How do you prevent a contractor from ripping you off?

In extreme cases, the contractor may owe you more than the state limit for small claims. You may also feel more confident hiring an experienced lawyer. If you have a problem with your home improvement project, first try to resolve it with the contractor. Many disputes can be resolved at this level.

Follow any telephone conversation with a letter you send by certified mail. That's proof that the company received your letter. Keep a copy for your files. Spending time on contract details early in the process can save you from headaches later on.

The contact should be extremely detailed and, if possible, list the products by name and serial number. You should include a schedule for project completion and a progressive payment schedule, as well as how you and the contractor will manage the changes. Don't be afraid to negotiate changes to the initial contract you receive from the remodeling company. We hope that this letter will be enough to draw the contractor's attention and initiate a positive dialogue to resolve the issues.

The first warning letter should be worded “calmly” so that the contractor is not offended, but rather takes it seriously enough to work with you. If you hire a contractor to improve your property and they are not paid, the contractor has the right to impose a lien on that property. Many homeowners say the main reason for their dissatisfaction is that the contractor was overcharging them and asking for more money over budget. If interested, ask the contractor to add you to the policy and then bring you the documentation listed.

Pay attention to how different contractors communicate with you, how comprehensive their estimates are, and how inclusive they are. Contractor scams are one of the oldest tricks in the book and can damage more than just your wallet. That involves doing a bit of homework and taking the time to evaluate the contractors you are considering hiring. However, if it's obvious that you're dealing with a bad contractor who demands more money or overcharges, you have the right to report the contractor or file a claim with your Bond or the contractor's state licensing board and even decide to file a lawsuit.

Check out the following articles and videos from home improvement expert Danny Lipford to learn how to select the right contractor for your next job and avoid getting ripped off. GreatBuildz is a free service that connects homeowners with trusted, carefully selected general contractors and supports the project from start to finish. Some contractors can take advantage of charging a high price for their services and delivering incomplete or deficient work. Another dispute may arise with the contractor when the owner agrees that an additional item is needed, but feels that the contractor's price is too high.

You can file a case in small claims court if you think a contractor has shorted it or left it in the sawdust. In addition, you can decide to fire your contractor and bring in a new one to finish the remodel, but keep in mind that this could lead to a budget dispute.

Roberta Burgees
Roberta Burgees

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