Unfortunately, there are many contractors out there who aren’t aboveboard. You need to protect yourself and your home from contractor fraud, whether it’s incomplete projects, poor workmanship, or repairs that violate your warranties. Here are our tips to avoid contractor fraud.
Check their Qualifications
Contractors of all sorts can belong to organizations that are relevant to their trade. At a minimum, all should have a license to perform their trade.
We can’t speak for all other kinds of contractors, but roofers should be associated with:
- The National Roofing Contractor’s Association (NRCA)
- A shingle manufacturer (we’re Select ShingleMasters for Certainteed)
Other types of contractors will have similar organizations.
Ensure They Have Insurance
Even the most practiced professionals make mistakes and have accidents, which is why they should have insurance. If a contractor you hire doesn’t have insurance, it may actually be you who is liable for their error in the end. No reputable contractor will shy away from showing you proof of insurance.
Contractors should also be bonded, which means the business owns a surety bond. This bond is a chunk of money that can be drawn on if the company makes an error, even if the company is suffering financially.
Another way to ensure the company is legally above board is to see if they are willing to get a permit. If a permit is necessary for the work they will perform for you, they should insist on receiving one before they start work on your project. Refusing to get a permit can be illegal, and it also helps shady contractors hide their tracks.
Look Into Reviews
Poor workmanship leaves behind a trail of unhappy customers. It’s worth your while to check out online reviews of the contractors you are considering. Finding out what their past customers think of their work can be very enlightening. In particular, look at older reviews, as sometimes it takes homeowners time to find issues.
If you personally know any of the contractor’s former customers, they are an excellent source of information. Ask those you trust who they’ve had good work from, or who to avoid.
Consider the Price
There are two major red flags you can find in a poor contractor’s pricing scheme. First, if a contractor’s price is significantly below their competitor’s, it usually means that they are cutting corners somewhere. Maybe they don’t pay their employees well, don’t’ have the proper equipment, or don’t intend to do the work you’re asking of them at all.
That’s another thing to watch out for. Contractors who demand full payment upfront may be running a scam where they never start, or never finish their work, and disappear so you can’t sue them.
Trust Your Instincts
Do you get a weird feeling about a contractor? Maybe they don’t seem communicative, or professional? While not necessarily a sign that something illegal or untoward is going on, you shouldn’t ignore your instincts. It’s always best to hire contractors you trust. After all, you want to develop a relationship with a contractor you trust so that you have a reliable company to turn to when you need more work done in your home.