Avoid Being Scammed by Contractors

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How not to get scammed by contractors

You can take the steps to make sure the next time you hire a contractor you are not scammed. You hear everyday somewhere in our country where an individual hired a contractor and they took off with the money.

As a Contractor myself I want to make you aware of ways you can protect yourself. It’s hard for me to come behind another contractor who took the money and ran. Not only does the customer want the job complete but they want you to do it at a discount or loss because of the contractor before you. Most times I have to walk away. Though I feel your pain, I cannot do the job if my company is not making a profit.

Here are some suggestions I have to avoid the construction scam.

  • Always hire a licensed contractor. For the sake of saving money, many people hire Bob’s cousin around the corner instead of seeking a licensed contractor. A licensed contractor is held at a higher standard and most times cost more, but you are getting someone who knows and practices your States codes. You can also go to the Secretary of State web-page and locate or check an individual’s license and status.
  • Check with your county compliance office. Most counties have contractors that they use and will refer you to their list that in most instances you can find on-line. There are some corners you can’t cut. The old adage you get what you pay for is still true. Ask for references and call them.
  • Do not give all of your money for the project up front. Most legitimate contractors will ask for a supply draw up front. This is for the supplies they need to complete your project. If it is a small job, one day -one week, break the payments up as the job progresses. Most times with small jobs the only payment that is needed is the supply draw and the final payment at completion of job. If it’s a larger job that requires a permit, then you adjust the payments accordingly.

Sign a contract detailing the scope of work.  This way there is no question about what you are paying for.  If you want something additional most legitimate contractors will have you sign a change order.  This details the changes or add-ons you requested with the additional fees.  These fees should be paid at the time of request.

1/3 supply draw/labor

1/3 Rough end inspection draw

1/3 Final inspection draw

You may ask,” why not just go ahead and pay for everything and get paid at the end?” Just as consumers have troubles with contractors, contractors also have trouble with consumer scams. Most of us have had the experience of getting taken at least once. For us that is one time too many. As a contractor, if I lose labor I can deal with that. To purchase light fixtures and wire or panels for a customer and then never receive payment is not a risk most of us will take unless it is a big contracting firm who can take the risk.

It is also important to make sure your contractor has liability insurance. Should there be any unforeseen damage then you are covered.

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carol roach
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Posted on Oct 12, 2009

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Debra Brown

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