Prices that seem too good to be true, usually are too good to be true. Many homeowners have regretted their decision to act on a “great deal” that turned into a bad deal.
Avoid unknown companies selling door to door
Do not buy from an unknown company selling door to door. Some contractors have well-rehearsed, door-to-door scams designed to quickly separate you from your money.
Be wary of the high-pressure sales technique
Resist the high-pressure sales technique. Some companies often offer “today only” incentives to encourage the homeowner to make a decision on the spot.
Be patient during the busy season
Many home service industries are seasonal. During the busy season, the better companies get backed up.
Moonlighting occurs when an enterprising and dishonest employee steals a customer from his or her employer. For example, an employee working for one company might come out to do an estimate but then offer to do the work for less money on non-company time.
Don’t make a hiring decision based on a company’s sign in your neighbor’s yard
A company’s sign in your neighbor’s yard does not mean your neighbor was satisfied with the company’s work. Multiple homeowners have reported hiring a company simply because a neighbor had previously hired the company.
Remember that one referral is only one referral
One referral doesn’t always tell the whole story. Many homeowners have reported hiring companies because a neighbor or friend had recommended that company.
Thoroughly check references
Always do your due diligence. Before hiring a company for a major project, such as remodeling, interview many of the company’s references.
Only compare apples to apples
Make sure you’re comparing companies equally. Some companies knowingly deliver low quality at a low price.
Avoid business on a handshake
Insist on written, signed contracts. If a company representative or contractor claims his or her handshake is as good as a contract, it probably is not.
Avoid large, up-front payments
Protect your finances. Beware of scams and always assume the worst.
Never open an account for a contractor at a local store
Poor or nonexistent credit is a bad sign. Some individuals or contractors request an account at a local store in the homeowner’s name to allow the contractor to charge the homeowner’s materials directly to this account.
Do not help contractors
Protect yourself and the contractor. If you help a contractor and the contractor gets injured, the contractor may be able to make a tort claim against you.
Do not lend tools to the people you hire
Contractors should arrive at a jobsite with their own equipment. Many homeowners have reported contractors and technicians who failed to bring the required tools with them.
Keep valuables out of sight
Minimize risk from the beginning. Multiple homeowners reported thefts when unknown contractors, employees, or technicians were working in their homes.
Monitor workers in your home
Protect your home and your valuables. Never leave unknown workers alone in your home and never hide a key for an unknown worker.
Avoid cash payments
Be wary of contractors who insist on cash. A few contractors and service providers demand cash payments or offer substantial discounts for cash payments to avoid bounced checks, garnished wages, and Uncle Sam (although we have no direct proof of any company engaged in tax avoidance).
Write a check to the company you hired, not to an employee
Know who you’re paying. Some unethical employees and/or unethical subcontractors steal from homeowners by convincing them to write checks directly to them or to a different company from the one the homeowner hired.
Request lien releases on major work
Protect your property. A lien is a claim made against a homeowner’s property by an individual or company that has supplied labor and has not been paid.
Never make the final payment until you are completely satisfied
Money is power. Contractors are much less interested in making you happy after they have been paid in full.