BBB: Spring high season for home improvement scams
As the weather gets warmer, consumers are turning their focus to home maintenance, remodeling and repair projects.
“Although Spring has just begun, consumers are planning home maintenance, improvement and renovation projects,” said Tom Bartholomy, president of the Better Business Bureau of Southern Piedmont. “So, it is not surprising that home and garden-related businesses dominate the list of top consumer searches.”
According to the BBB, 12 of the top 15 types of businesses that consumers in the Southern Piedmont are researching the most are home-related. They include businesses from air conditioning repair to home improvement to tree services.
“Spring is the high season for home improvement projects,” Bartholomy said. “Unfortunately, it is also the high season for home improvement scams.”
The BBB advises homeowners to be wary of contractors who promise work at cut-rate prices or who show up at your door claiming that they are doing work in your neighborhood.
“You need to do your homework before you hire any business,” said Bartholomy, “especially when you are hiring someone to work in your home.”
According to the BBB, consumers should hire a local contractor with a good track record of doing business locally.
“There are hundreds of reputable contractors in our area who will deliver quality work, on time and within budget,” added Bartholomy.
The Better Business Bureau offers these tips for hiring a contractor:
• Track record — Check out a company’s BBB rating and complaint history. You can search by company name, telephone number or website.
• Cost comparisons — Get at least three bids in writing.
• Licensing — Check to see if the company you plan to hire has the proper licensing. On the N.C. General Contractors Licensing Board website, click on Licensee Search.
• Insurance — Verify the company’s liability insurance to protect you against damage. To contact the N.C. Department of Insurance, call 1-800-546-5664 toll-free in North Carolina.
• References — Ask for references from the company’s last three jobs and check them out.
• Written contract — Do not sign a contract until you have read the terms and conditions, warranty and payment schedule carefully.
• Deposit and payment — Final payment should not be made until the work is completed. Do not pay in cash; pay by check or credit card.
• Warranty — Get warranty information in writing on products and installation.
• Bonding — Be sure all workers are bonded to protect you against theft or damage.
• Criminal history — Check out anyone you allow into your home to see if they have a criminal history. In North Carolina, go to www.doc.state.nc.us and select “Public Offender Search.”
For more information, visit www.charlotte.bbb.org
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