Unfortunately, some home improvement companies and contractors scam customers for their own benefit. Be aware and avoid scams by reading our top 10 scams in home improvement and the solutions for how to avoid the scam.
Scam #1: Not Being Properly Insured
The Deception of lying, being reckless, unconcerned and thoughtless and burdening you with the consequences and liability should seriously bodily injury or property damage occur.
- Reality: These Ct home improvement contractors will initially present a business card / stationary stating their insured and hope this is adequate proof. If homeowner persists the uninsured Ct home improvement contractor will initially ignore request or state it’s being mailed or some other excuse hoping you either forget or you’re seduced with a cheap bid. The other scenario is they actually provide you a copy of their insurance policy, however is it valid?
- Solution: If any Ct home improvement contractor doesn’t provide proof of insurance then dismiss them. When any Ct home improvement company hands you a copy of their insurance policy you still must confirm by calling the insurance company. Any contractor can hand you a certificate illustrating up-to-date coverage however be invalid for prior non-payment. Make sure policy includes both “workers compensation “& “general liability “coverage. Note, if owner of home improvement company states “I’m not required to have workers compensation coverage because of no employees “. This is a false statement. Once you decide which confirmed / insured Ct contractor to hire and before signing contract once again call insurance company and request another copy of coverage with you being named on the policy as an “Interested Party”. This would entitle you to receive notice during duration of remodeling project should this policy be altered or cancelled due to non-payment or none renewal.
Scam #2: Not Being Properly Licensed
The Deception of lying, being reckless, unconcerned and burdening you with the consequences of shoddy work and monetary expenses.
- Reality: Any work performed by an unlicensed contractor is subject to be build improper especially when a permit was not obtained or rendered work will later to be subject to be partially dismantled to assure concealed work met building codes or worse, rendered work later to be totally demolished due to zoning violations.
- Solution: Confirm this Ct home improvement company is licensed by first requesting a copy of their Ct home improvement license (illustrates registration number, contractors name & address, effective and expiration date). Note, the State of Ct supplies a wallet size license and its State law that it must be in contractor’s procession and must be shown upon request. I would request to view both the wallet size home improvement license and motor vehicle driver’s license to confirm same name & address appears on both documents and driver’s license photo matches this person. Second, contact either or both, Ct BBB & Department of Consumer Protection to confirm authenticity of home improvement license and if still valid.
Scam #3: Amount of Experience
The Deception is their skilled, experienced & knowledgeable in their profession. They’ll tell you and have it displayed on their business cards, stationary, web site & truck.
- Reality: The word “Experienced “is subjective and could be exaggerated or you can be misled. A Ct home improvement contractors interpretation differs from homeowners. Homeowner’s perception is being qualified, skilled and knowledgeable. A contractor’s perception is calculated only in “Years “with a bias opinion of themselves. Contractors will include their “experienced time “when laid off, unemployed, collecting unemployment, in a different profession or worse, incarcerated. Also, a home improvement license covers many other occupations besides carpentry, such as painting, landscaping, paving, fences, insulation, swimming pools, roofs, etc. For example, a contractor can tell you they have 30 years of experience in the Home Improvement industry (All true), yet didn’t perform the work / project your requesting.
- Solution: Make a non-bias decision by evaluating these Ct home improvement contractors during initial meeting (presentation, knowledge, thoroughness, demeanor, professionalism). Evaluate contents of proposal (detailed, vague or none), compare with other candidates. Make notes on omissions. Evaluate response time when requesting documents (insurance policy, copy of license, list of references). Evaluate promptness in responding to e-mails, questions and your concerns. Remember the amount of experience a Ct home improvement contractor states is only “Talk”. For example, a contractor with 8 years of experience could be more skilled & knowledgeable then another with 30 years of experience.
Scam #4: Shady or Falsifying References
The Deception is lying and misleading you into thinking their experienced, skilled and capable of performing your specific home improvement project.
- Reality: The old premise, contractor is in control by supplying 3 random references of their choice, however this method is flawed. Any company with an extremely low satisfaction record (7 unsatisfied customers out of 10) can still supply 3 satisfied references. If not, give you names of their friends / relatives. Your objective is to know what there’re not divulging.
- Solution: To establish the true identity of any Ct home improvement contractors performance “YOU” must control and establish guidelines. Dismiss any contractor that doesn’t supply references. Specifically ask all prospective companies for a least 3 references that are recent and similar to your type of project. In other words, don’t accept deck, window, and roofing or small handyman references if you’re considering building an addition, remodeling a kitchen or bathroom. Also specifically ask all prospective companies for the last 10 projects they performed, including name, contact number, approximate date and description of work. You’re objective is to establish their “Profile” such as type of projects their accustomed and familiar in doing (or lack of doing) along with the volume of work they performed (or lack of work). If you realize most or all of these last 10 jobs performed were roofing or building decks , than I would be skeptical about them building your addition or remodeling your kitchen or bathroom. Or if these 10 last references were many months apart, then contractor is either omitting names because homeowner was displeased or company not busy, both discouraging reason. If you’re constructing an addition thus request addition references, once you receive them and before calling references, you should ask contractor for a copy of the Building Permit. This will confirm that this particular contractor did this particular addition because all Building Permits illustrate date, type of work & company name. Don’t make the mistake of not calling references because you assume they must be happy if supplied by contractor. A contractor may consider a customer pleased if the job was completed and they were paid in full. However a customer could have been intimidated thus “bit their tongue”, however still willing to divulge issues contractor was oblivious to.
Scam #5: Contract Language
The Deception of not protecting homeowners “best interest”.
- Reality: Contractor being author of contract, thus has a great advantage such as , requesting a large deposit, structuring payments so money received well exceeds value of work rendered , final payment being a minimal amount and payments due upon the “ starting “ of a phase.
- Solution: Prior to scheduling a meeting to sign contract request a copy of contract prior, enabling you sufficient time to carefully read and understand all specifications and terms. Make notations on omissions previously promised or you expected included. Request changes to terms you don’t agree on, for example, payments due upon “completion” of a phase and not “starting” of a phase. A contractor can start a variety of different phases and complete none. Also request a larger final payment amount, an incentive for either contractor to finish or enough funds remaining to hire another contractor to complete unfinished work. Also request final payment is due upon Town Building Inspectors approving final inspection (if a permit was required). Also have language in contract stating “All new work will be done to code”, this will protect you from paying additional money beyond the contract price if upgrades in materials are required. For example, the contractor can state in contract that their supplying 2” x 8” floor joist, 2” x 6 ceiling joist, R-15 insulation in exterior walls , etc. , however when contractor applies for permit and once Building Inspector views plans informs contractor of errors of either undersized material or omissions of materials. Thus the added Language of “ All new work will be done to code “ will supersede the sizes mentioned in contract along with omissions.
Scam #6: Additional Work
An Unethical opportunity to make a windfall of money by overcharging.
- Reality: Additional work occurs by either homeowner requesting additional work as the project proceeds along or when unforeseen problems / issues are exposed. Your contractor has the opportunity / advantage to charge a lot more than normal because they have leverage knowing they have no competition.
- Solution: During your gathering of bids from all prospective contractors request a separate price on each “Wish List” item you may consider doing while the project is in progress. This could be skylights, extra lighting, a deck, installing oak flooring instead of carpet, etc. You’re objective is to “Lock In” the cost. Since the homeowner has the leverage prior to committing to a contractor and signing a contract, bids will be more reasonable. In regards to controlling the expense when “unforeseen “problems occur. My advice , if possible is try to anticipate problems, for example if you received a bid to strip your roof and install new roof shingles , get a square foot cost of replacing plywood should it be found to be rotten / damaged. I do understand the possibilities are endless and the best advice I can offer is deal with an honest, reputable, established Ct remodeling company.
Scam #7: Low Balling Bid
The Deception by this Ct home improvement company is the pretext you’re receiving a great price”
- Reality: Quote is intentionally less expensive compared to others because of omissions, inferior material and ambiguous wording giving false assumptions.
- Solution: Request a detailed written proposal, don’t accept verbal quotes. A detailed proposal should specifically describe each piece of material or merchandise opposed to just a generic description. A detailed proposal should include and specify a generous “Allowance Amount” on any merchandise homeowner must select, such as carpet, electrical fixtures, laminate flooring, tub, toilet, tile, vanity, medicine cabinet, faucets, etc. opposed to contactor supplying the lease expensive choices. A solution is for homeowner to place a monetary allowance amount on all these items that fluctuate in price and inform contractors so each contractor is quoting “Apples to Apples “. If homeowner is uncertain then have the first visiting contractor set the allowances amounts. There are other materials most likely needed that vary in price, some as much as a 40 % difference in cost. Both options do meet building code; however the less expensive items selected by contractor will make their quote more attractive however in reality you’re getting an inferior product. Examples are wall & floor sheathing ($25.00 a sheet for plywood or $13.00 a sheet for wafer board), roof shingles (with a 20 year warranty or a 35 year warranty.), vinyl siding & gutters (difference gauge thickness), windows & exterior door, etc. Compare all proposals , look for omissions, don’t assume all Ct home improvement contractors are supplying the same services , examples are dumpster rental, portal toilet rental, permits, being insured & licensed, lawn repair if excavating for an addition along with heavy equipment driving on lawn, etc. Also, a detailed proposal should include a list of items not included thus avoiding any assumptions.
Scam #8: Charging What Sounds Like a Reasonable Hourly Wage
The Deception by this Ct home improvement contractor is the pretext you’re receiving a discounted price thus saving money. For example, charging you $30.00 per hour opposed to the professional standards of $ 55.00 per hour or more.
- Reality: It’s possible your overall cost could be more expensive, even with a bargain sounding $ 35.00 per hour charge. This contractor / carpenter can be unproductive due to lack of knowledge, skills, experience & leadership qualities thus take 3 times longer to complete project. These deficiencies translate to you actually paying $ 105.00 per hour opposed to the professional standard of $ 50.00 per hour. In reality you’re not saving money, you’re paying twice as much as you should.
- Solution: I recommend request a total completed quote and don’t agree to an hourly charge, thus not worry when they started or ended work, how long their lunch was, how long their talking on their cell phone nor pay for their mistakes or lack of production, If this contractor / carpenter is insuring you that this reasonable sounding hourly charge is benefiting you then set a “cap” on the total cost with the following terms. Request a daily log of rendered hours, disbursement will occur weekly (not daily ) and value of disbursement payment will not yet be based on total logged hours but coincide with percentage of work completed in comparison to value of total cap amount. For example , if the labor cap amount is $1,600.00 and this carpenter logged 40 hours the first week and the job is 50% completed, then this person will receive $800.00 ( 50% of $ 1,600.00 ) opposed to $1,400 ( 40 hours x $35.00 per hour ). This payment method would assure you this carpenter doesn’t receive payments equivalent to cap amount without you receiving a completed project nor abandoning project once they realize it’s not worth their time to complete project with little remaining reward.
Scam #9: Promising to Complete Project a Lot Sooner Than Others
The Deception of contractor lying to be awarded the remodeling project.
- Reality: Company didn’t complete the project as promised however didn’t real care because they were awarded the job and made the money they expected.
- Solution: Stipulate a penalty clause in contract that X amount of dollars will be deducted for each day pass promised completion date. Make sure final contract payment is substantial for their incentive to continue working unit completed.
Scam #10: Excuses
The Deception of contractor lying and not taking responsibility nor being accountable for their actions and decisions.
- Reality: A majority of home improvement company owners don’t want to omit their faults , for example due to lack of skilled help, delays caused by not ordering special order items on time , delays due to lack of communication between this company and their sub-contractors. The excuses can go on and on.
- Solution: Take the stance that 99% of excuses are avoidable. Delays occur due to lack of preparation, misunderstandings occur due to lack of documentation & lack of communication , poor workmanship is due to lack of experience, discipline and knowledge. Protect yourself against these occurrences by at least compensating yourself monetarily. Have a large final payment for leverage to correct unsatisfied workmanship and have a penalty clause of X amount of dollars per day if project isn’t completed as promised.