Typical Contractor Scams To Watch Out For

There are laws in place for building homes or performing construction work on someone’s property—and for a good reason! Scams and shoddy work done by under-experienced contractors are becoming all too common nowadays. While a lot of contractors are professional and honest, unfortunately not all of them are. Here are some things to look for to avoid being scammed:

1. Are They Fully Licensed?

Contractors working without proper licensing can put your investment at risk. Depending on the state, there are certain laws in place that regulate whether a contractor requires a license to even be allowed to take on your project.

For example, in the State of Virginia, construction law varies from those of other states. Here it is mandatory for a license in Virginia for any work that goes beyond $1,000. Contractors who are not licensed to take on your project could be scamming you in addition to simply being dishonest.

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Does this mean you should completely discard the idea of hiring a handyman without a license? Not exactly. However, your chances of being cheated do increase if the contractor is not licensed, putting you at risk of losing hundreds of dollars on a job barely done.

2. Are They Requiring You to Pay Up Front?

So, you think you found an amazing, fully licensed contractor, but then they tell you they will need the money up front to purchase materials and get started on your project right away. This is the most common ruse used to scam people. When you hand over the money upfront, one of two things will happen:

-They will disappear.

-They won’t do a good job since they know you can’t fire them after already having paid them.

How do you protect yourself? You never want to pay more than $1,000 or 10% of the project’s total amount. In most states, this is the legal maximum. It shows that you are a reliable client, and the contractor asking for more than that is probably trying to rip you off.

3. Don’t Just Take Their Word for It!

Scam artists can be very charming and agreeable about pretending to do whatever it is you want. They may even suggest their own extra touches. However, they don’t include this in the contract agreement you signed. Many clients don’t think much about this since they received a verbal understanding from the contractor.

It’s only a matter of time before you notice that the extra features discussed are not being built. When you mention it to the contractor, they will most likely tell you they were not included in the contract or the price. Here, you will have two options – pay for these extras or live without them.

The best way to protect yourself from this is to carefully read the contract before signing. If you notice even the smallest discrepancy, bring it to their attention. Unfortunately, after you sign the contract, you have very few options.

4. No Permit, No Problem?

Every contractor is legally required to have a building permit if the work conducted exceeds a specific amount. If you are hiring someone for a large project, you need to ask to see their permit not only to ensure they are credible but that they are meeting safety codes.

There are smaller interior jobs that could go unnoticed without a permit. However, a large job cannot be hidden, and authorities will notice. If your contractor is asking you to apply for a homeowners permit, they are probably trying to scam you. Taking out your own permit means you will be doing the job yourself, making you responsible for everything if there is a problem.

To protect yourself from this scenario, always make sure the contractor has a building permit before allowing them to conduct any work in your home.

Unfortunately, there are more con artists around us than we would like, which is why it’s important to be vigilant and careful whenever hiring a contractor. Never hire someone on the spot. Instead, take your time to make sure they are reliable and will offer you a quality service.

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