by Christy Heitger- Ewing

Avoid Scammers by Educating Yourself Prior to Hiring a Contractor

“Spring is in the air!”

It’s a great feeling, isn’t it? When temperatures start to climb, flowers begin to bloom, and we inhale the sweet smell of freshly mowed lawns, these are signals that the winter blahs are behind us and lighter, brighter days are ahead. But something else also tends to emerge come spring – those people who ring your doorbell around dinnertime, asking if you’d like your windows replaced, your house repainted, or your roof reshingled. Some of them are pretty smooth talkers, but that doesn’t mean they’re legit. By all means, feel free to hire a tween who wants to make a few bucks pulling weeds, but when it comes to big home improvement projects, don’t be taken by a scammer.

“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.”

Refer to BAGI to find reputable builders, remodelers, and suppliers. There is even a section of their website “Find a Remodeler” in which 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. It’s not unusual for unscrupulous, flyby- night roofers to swoop into town following a hailstorm to take advantage of homeowners who have just experienced tragedy.

“These homeowners needed 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. For instance, don’t agree to pay a contractor the full amount before the work begins, and if you pay in installments, do so after the completion of specified sections of work.”

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