Owning a home can be a dream come true, but with that responsibility comes the need to make occasional home improvements to keep your home up-to-date and running smoothly. As you consider upcoming projects, we want to share common home improvement scams and steps you can take to protect yourself and your home.
The discount pricing scam typically involves receiving a lowball quote from a contractor regarding a home improvement job. One group targets elderly homeowners, uses a fake company name and has no identification on their work trucks.
The underpricing will make it seem like you are getting a great deal, however, once the job starts, they will add unnecessary fees or claim they have to do other, related work to finish the project, increasing the final price dramatically. If the initial repair cost seems too good to be true, it probably is.
In the Neighborhood
Fraudsters may stop by unannounced, claim to have finished a job nearby and offer to do work at a deep discount because they have leftover materials. After receiving payment, the unscrupulous contractor may disappear, or in other instances, you will be left with shoddy and unprofessional results. This is most commonly regarding driveway paving and the contractor having extra asphalt.
Bad Loan Terms
For bigger home improvement projects that require a home equity loan, a contractor may offer to arrange financing for you through a lender they know. Sometimes the paperwork will include blank spaces that will be filled in later. Never sign an agreement with blank spaces—you could wind up with loan terms that were different than you expected.
Tips for How to Protect Yourself and Your Home:
- Recommendations– Get recommendations from people you know and trust. If others have good experiences with a company, it is more likely that you will too. Also, make sure you work with licensed and insured companies.
- Research- Look up the company online and see what other people have to say about them. If you can’t find any information online or the reviews are bad, rethink using them for home repairs.
- Review– Assess several different project estimates before choosing a company. Understand what a fair quote would be regarding price, materials and timeline.
- References- Ask the company for references. It is important to understand past customers’ experiences regarding whether the project was completed on time and if there were unexpected costs.
- Read- Before agreeing to anything, read the fine print of a contract thoroughly to understand all of the project terms. Don’t let a contractor rush you into making a decision about your home before you have time to ask questions and feel comfortable with the deal.
Understanding the different home improvement scams will help you avoid falling victim. Remember to stay vigilant and continually brush up on new scams in the community. If you have any questions or suspect you’ve become a victim of fraud, call 781-444-2100 or your local branch as soon as possible.