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How to Avoid Home Improvement Scams

Five Home Improvement Scams You Can Avoid   

The weather is warming up, and so is the home improvement season. Whatever remodeling project you may be considering, here are five scams to watch for and how to avoid them to save yourself money, headaches, and heartaches.

  1. The Home Remodeling Experts Come to You! If someone shows up at your door because they are “working on another home in your neighborhood,” turn them away. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reports that these are often scams. But if you are interested in the remodeling or home improvement offer, do some research first. Visit the Better Business Bureau and search for the contractor or business. Additionally, . If you find anything negative, don’t use them.
  2. They Can Help You Save Money with Materials Left from Another Job. Don’t trust this contractor. If they have materials leftover from another job, those supplies may be stolen from the previous homeowner. Plus, what’s stopping them from using materials you buy on their next job? Stop the cycle and just say, “No.”
  3. They Pressure You to Make a Quick Decision. Before hiring anyone, get multiple bids. Getting multiple bids forces a slower process and often weeds out scams. Also, ask for references before signing a contract or hiring a contractor. If they don’t have references, ask about nearby homes where they have done work. Then, knock on that homeowner’s door. If the homeowner was scammed, they’ll tell you all about it.
  4. They Ask for Cash and Payment Up Front. It’s okay to make a partial payment for part of the work beforehand and the remaining amount when they’re done. But if the contractor asks for the full amount, and in cash, it’s a scam. Montana law states that contractors can only ask for 5% of the total amount up front, with the remaining balance due upon completion.
  5. They Want You to Get the Building Permits. Yes, city and county permits can slow down any project. But that red tape is there to protect you as a homeowner. If a contractor refuses to get the proper permits, they may be hiding serious issues, such as an invalid or expired license. Always hire professionals who work within the law.

Extra Credit: Read the Contract Carefully
The FTC recommends that every homeowner read remodeling contracts thoroughly. Before you sign any contract, be sure there are NO blank spaces and that it has the following:

  • Estimated start and finish date.
  • Clear costs to start the project and the amount required at completion. The initial fee should not be more than 5% of the total project cost.
  • All materials needed to complete the job and the costs for all of it.
  • The contractor’s name, address, phone number, and license number.
  • A written statement of your right to cancel the contract within three business days before the work begins. This clause protects you from a “no-show” contractor.

Report Scams to the FTC
If you become the victim of a home remodeling scam, check the FTC consumer resolutions page and the National Association of Home Builders.

Start Your Home Remodel at Clearwater Credit Union.
Whether you’re considering a new kitchen, deck, or bathroom renovation, Clearwater can help you finance it with a Home Equity Loan or Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC). Plus, once you have access to the equity in your home, you can use it for anything, including debt consolidation or a much-needed vacation.


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