Spring gives off a great feeling, doesn’t it? Temperatures have risen, flowers have bloomed, the sweet smell of freshly mowed grass is in the air, and the winter blahs are behind us. Lighter, brighter days and warmer weather present an opportune time to begin home improvement projects, but with that comes a dark cloud: scammers who will present you with a great deal to complete a project, but then deliver poor results or no results at all.

“Do your homework so that you’re sure you’re hiring a trustworthy builder or contractor,” says Steve Lains, Chief Executive Officer at Builders Association of Greater Indianapolis (BAGI). “It’s important to get a contract in writing that describes the full scope of the work as well as any specifications for the job. It’s also a good idea to check the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division and the Better Business Bureau for complaint information to see if the contractors you’re considering are on the list.”

If you’re looking for a home services expert, refer to BAGI to find reputable builders, remodelers, and suppliers. There is even a “Find a Remodeler” section on the BAGI website where homeowners can review a list of reputable companies that do stellar remodeling work. The Indiana Builders Association (IBA) is also a great source as they have more than 2,600 members, many of whom perform home improvement services. The IBA offers homeowner resources to connect consumers to industry professionals.

While there’s a place in this world for trusting hearts, blindly trusting a stranger to tackle a home repair project could cause frustration, distress, and financial loss. Be smart about who you talk to and trust your gut! If you’re dealing with someone who’s confusing you or pressuring you to make an immediate decision, they’re most likely a scammer.

“Homeowners need qualified, honest, ethical inspections of their home,” says Lains, who notes that the best way to find these people is by referral. “Ask family, friends, and colleagues for recommendations of contractors they have used and trust.”

He also suggests homeowners be smart about payments. Never hire someone who requests that you pay up front, tells you they only accept cash, or recommends that you borrow money from a lender they know. Professional, legitimate contractors will accept payment after the completion of the work.

For more information, visit bagi.com or buildindiana.org/homeowners.