How do you tell if a contractor is ripping you off?

Scared Straight: Some Horror Stories Be clear with the details of the job: When launching into a home renovation project, it's important to know exactly what you need. By researching your project, you'll be better prepared to talk to contractors and be able to tell them exactly what you need. In addition to being able to better understand what they say to you, some contractors feel that people are ignorant of what is needed and that they will take advantage of it. Get multiple quotes: Each job has different costs, often even the same job will vary in cost from one contractor to another, so it is important to obtain several quotes in order to measure what the average cost should be.

Sometimes, just because someone does the work for less doesn't mean they're going to be better and vice versa with someone who's the most expensive. Multiple quotes will also give you a better advantage when contractors bid for your work. Get separate quotes for materials: By dividing materials and labor, you'll be able to see exactly what you're paying for. Sometimes you'll even realize that buying the materials on your own will save you a lot of money.

Contractor scams are one of the oldest tricks in the book and can damage more than just your wallet. 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. The more experience the contractor has in working with your specific needs, the more confident they will know what to do if a problem arises. Or they can tell you that this is a busy season for contractors and that you should set up your project with them because they can do it right away.

You've had a good start to finding a contractor after searching a popular online directory of home services. In the same way, you should be careful with a contractor that is difficult to contact, you should be careful with the lazy contractor. In addition to having a time frame for the project, it's important to ask the contractor to sign a “time and materials contract.” That's one way to avoid evening outfits and usually means that the contractor has at least a minimum amount of insurance so you don't keep the bag if something goes wrong. If you don't feel comfortable going into details about why the contractor didn't get the job, simply let them know that you've decided to go with another company for your project.

Even before the project has started, it's a good idea to know what type of payment programs the contractor has available. Beware of the common scam where the contractor assures the landlord that the home will be used as an example for advertising purposes and that's why you can bid much lower than the competition. Simply put, a contractor sets their own hours and these hours not only determine how quickly the project is completed, but also reflect the contractor's overall professionalism and commitment to the project. All 203,000 contractors approved by the FHA are paid in phases and only when they reach a certain level of work completion.

Most contractors should be able to give a specific time frame, as well as plan what will be done and when. If you suspect this type of theft, compare the bill of materials included in your contract with the receipts for the materials your contractor actually requests. While a 10-20% project cost overrun is normal even with “good” contractors, a 50-100% cost overrun is not normal and could be indicative of a dishonest or bad contractor.

Roberta Burgees
Roberta Burgees

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