Clouds aren't the only things that roll in with severe weather. Also on that horizon are unscrupulous contractors. Home repair scams arrive in the aftermath of storms as shady contractors cash in by delivering substandard or incomplete work. Help protect yourself, your money, and your home from repair ripoffs by learning to spot the red flags.
Warning signs of a scam
Be alert if contractors do any of the following:
- Offer unsolicited services for projects like driveway sealing, chimney rebuilds, and roof repair — projects that are commonly "pitched" to homeowners
- Quote a reduced price on the work because of "materials left over from a job down the street"
- Offer a discount for using your home as a demonstration
- Employ pushy door-to-door sales tactics or advertise through flyers or newspapers
- Appear to be from out of town or working out of a pickup truck
- Demand immediate payment in full
- Accept cash only
- Provide no written contract
- Are not willing to produce references
- Fail to provide proof of insurance and proper licensing
- Suggest financing or recommend financing through someone they know
- Ask you to secure any required permits
- Promise insurance compensation for their repairs
Ways to protect yourself
- Get multiple quotes from local established businesses.
- Take time to make your decision.
- Do your research. Look into professional affiliations and Better Business Bureau reports, and follow up on references from previous clients.
- Check for up-to-date licenses, and verify insurance protection.
- Insist on written estimates and a contract that includes contact information, important dates, and a breakdown of costs. According to Federal Trade Commission rulings, you may be able to cancel a contract of more than $25 within three business days of signing it at your home or in a seller's temporary business location.
The National Association of Home Builders offers additional tips for hiring a dependable professional contractor. For storm repair tips, visit the Better Business Bureau website. And before you hire any contractor for storm-related repairs, always contact your insurance agent to be sure repairs will be covered.