Spring means a lot of things: longer days, warmer temperatures, trees and flowers (and allergies) in bloom, migratory birds returning from their winter homes.
It also means fixing up all the stuff on your house that broke, fell, cracked, blew away or started leaking over the winter. This also means home repair scammers coming out of the woodwork.
Many homeowners can do some repairs on their own, but most of us need help with bigger issues. Additionally, age plays a role in our ability and confidence to perform certain tasks. At 40 you might be willing and able to climb a ladder onto the roof; at 80 it may not seem like such a great idea. Home repair scammers often target older homeowners for this very reason.
Here are five things to watch out for.
- Someone knocking on your door: this is the number one way non-trustworthy contractors will approach you—out of the blue, at your doorstep, allegedly just having noticed some major problem with your house while in the neighborhood. No legitimate contractor works this way.
- Claiming to have extra materials left over from another job: any contractor worth your business isn’t going to “accidentally” order too much of anything.
- Refusing to put anything in writing: a verbal agreement without a written contract detailing the job and final cost is an invitation for the price to suddenly double or triple when the (likely shoddy) work is done. Get multiple bids, in writing, before beginning any major repair.
- Wanting full payment in cash up front: this is a setup for a classic take-the-money-and-run scheme.
- High-pressure sales tactics: don’t trust anyone trying to make you reach an immediate decision. A good contractor knows most homeowners are not going to go with the first bid, and that price isn’t necessarily the only deciding factor when choosing.
Be extra cautious after any kind of major storm event that caused flooding or other damage. Scammers will hit the streets in droves after a big storm, offering to fix rooves and gutters and siding. But the same rules still apply. You don’t want to end up losing money on some contractor who did lousy (or no) work.