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A brief guide on how to avoid home improvement scams

Home improvement scams have been on the increase for years now and they show no signs of slowing down. There are currently so many different home improvement scams that it is difficult to decide which one of them to write about. Scams thrive due to home owners’ ignorance of scam warnings signs. If you are a homeowner, there are some tell-tale signs you can watch out for to reduce your vulnerability to scam artists and hopefully avoid home improvement scams altogether.

Habits typical of home improvement scammers

Home improvement scammers typically begin a home construction or repair job, but shortly after you pay them disappear without completing the work never to return. Sometimes they may comeback and complete the job, but do shoddy or substandard work.

Other scammers talk their way in to unnecessary home repairs or deliberately damage the house so that you can pay them to do the repair. Yet other unscrupulous contractors pick valuable items like jewelry and money while working in your home without your notice. You often only come to realise your valuables have been stolen when the scammer has long gone.

Warning signs of a home improvement scammer

If a contractor shows up uninvited at your home driving a van that has no company name or has an out of town/country number plate, be very suspicious. Credible and established contractors have enough advertising and business referrals and rarely go from door to door to get work. Also, be suspicious of a contractor who wants the total sum of payment of work given up front.

Tips to protect yourself from scam contractors

It can be difficult to identify a scammer at first interaction. Fortunately, there are tips you can use to protect yourself and avoid most home improvement scams.

Tip I: Resist promises of special deals

Before you hire a home improvement contractor, make sure the contractor has proper licencing and or registration credentials. Check with your local authority or consumer agency for home repair assistance and to confirm the contractor's licence. Don't allow yourself to be pressured into giving quick jobs on promises of special arrangements like one-day deals.

Tip II: Demand a written contract

Before you hire a contractor, demand a written contract with details like when the job starts, specific work to be done, materials to be used and work guarantees. Sign the contract only after you have carefully read and are comfortable with the fine print of the document.

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Tip III: Pay only in small deposits

Finally, pay contractors in small deposits to discourage dishonesty and avoid home improvement scams. Never pay the total sum of work upfront before the job is done. Ideally, schedule timelines for payment deposits upon completion of certain milestones of work. This way you will avoid the majority of home improvement scams out there.

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