Now that you’re more aware of the prevalence of home improvement scams, you’re probably wondering what can be done to protect yourself or older family members from becoming the next victim. Fortunately, there are simple steps you can take to avoid scammers.
Look for Warning Signs
There are some clear warning signs you’ll observe when a contractor is intent on defrauding you. Here’s what to look out for if, for example, an unsolicited representative comes to your door offering to replace your windows.
- Asking for a high payment, or even the entire payment, upfront.
- Only accepting cash payments.
- Using high-pressure tactics to try to force you into a quick decision.
- Offering to do the job without a contract.
Do Your Homework
If you are dealing with an honest contractor, they will have no problem providing you with the following information so you can determine if they’re a legitimate business.
Ask to see:
- Their license and insurance information.
- A list of references. This should include names and phone numbers so you can contact previous customers they’ve done work for.
- A written contract. A good contract will detail the price, materials and a timeline for completing the job.
Other things to check on:
- Read any online comments and reviews about the business.
- Shop around and get several estimates.
Don’t Pay the Full Amount at Once
If, after researching, checking references and reviewing the contract, you feel like this is a legitimate company you would like to do business with, it’s time to discuss payment. Understandably, most reputable contractors require a down payment to begin work, but they should never ask for more than 50% upfront. You can then negotiate a schedule that will allow payments to be paid at certain stages of the project, with the final payment being made when the job is done to your satisfaction.
Stay tuned for Part 3 of our series, where we will discuss the characteristics of a good contractor. In the meantime, give Renewal by Andersen of Northeast PA a call at (610) 849-2800 if you see replacement windows or doors in your future!