Home Improvement Scams – What to Look Out For

The sad fact of life is that for every hundred reputable remodeling contractors who will carry out your construction project to your exact specifications, on time, and at a reasonable price, there are a few rogue cowboys out there whose only objective is to steal your money as quickly as possible with no regard for their workmanship or if any work gets done at all!

Having said that, there are many things you can do to avoid becoming a victim of these scammers. Here are some helpful ideas from one of Minnesota’s experienced exterior remodeling contractors, Tollefson Bros. Exteriors located in Bloomington, MN.

As a start, ask friends of yours for recommendations. They may have had work done by a particular remodeling contractor previously who carried out a professional job at a fair price. If that’s not possible, make sure the contractor can prove their competence by finding out if they are trained to do the job and whether they are members of a particular trade or business association. The contractor himself should be able to supply that information and give you contact information of associations with whom you can verify their claims.

Always ask for a written estimate or, better still, a fixed quote before any work starts. By getting a few written estimates so you can make comparisons, you will be assured you are paying a fair price for the work you want done. Ask if there is any “small print” and ask them to explain anything you don’t understand. Amend the bid, if necessary, before you sign any contracts.

You should also ask certain questions, in addition to verifying their ability and reputation to do the job as mentioned above. This should include asking how many projects like yours they’ve completed in the past couple of years. If you ask, they should give you a few references so you can contact previous people who have had work carried out by the tradesman. Ask them to produce an insurance certificate so you can be sure that you’ll receive compensation should the job go wrong.

When it comes to payment, try to limit, or even eliminate, any upfront payment as much as possible and always pay by check or by credit card. Never use cash. Quite often, a reputable contractor will not require any payment until the job is completed to your satisfaction. If it’s a big job that’s going to take some time, they may require some form of payment upfront for materials and additional labor costs first. If that’s the case, make sure you have a written receipt and their signature to prove that they have received payment, including the exact amount, before starting the job.

Where possible, negotiate payment in stages. For example, a portion of the total bid is paid at the start of work, another payment after the work is half done, and the rest upon satisfactory completion. Don’t make any final payment until you’re fully satisfied that the work has been completed to your specifications and, if the contractor is using other sub-contractors, ensure that these have all been paid before handing over the final payment to the main contractor. Don’t make any final payment until the residential contractor hands over written warranties for materials and for the quality of workmanship and that you have written proof that all sub-contractors have been paid in full.

Providing you ask the right questions, get satisfactory answers, do your research and get everything put in writing, there should be no problem. But watch out for scams. These include remodeling contractors that only accept cash, those that ask you to pay for the entire job upfront, those who do not provide you with a business or a home address and telephone number or suggest that you borrow money to pay for the job from a lender they know, or those that solicit door-to-door.

Knowledge, vigilance and awareness are your best forms of protection to make sure your home improvement project is finished without any hitches.

Tollefson Bros. Exteriors has been serving the Minnesota communities of Minneapolis, St. Paul, Bloomington, Eagan, Apple Valley, and Lakeville for over 12 years from their central location in Bloomington.

Contact Tollefson Bros. Exteriors by visiting our web site www.tolefsonbros.com, calling us at (952) 881-2218, or use our online contact form 24 hours a day.

Tollefson Bros. Exteriors carries an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau, is a Preferred Contractor for Owens Corning, and is a Certified Vinyl Siding Installation Company by the Vinyl Siding Institute.