It is officially starting to feel like fall. With the seasonal change also comes a difference in the type of scams frequented. One of the most prevalent changes in scams during the fall is a shift towards home improvement scams. BBB sees a shift in focus away from back to school and employment scams towards maintenance scams like people claiming they can clean your gutters on the cheap or home improvement scams like charging a fee to build a fire pit but after getting the fee never completing the task. At the beginning of the seasonal shift, which we are in currently, BBB typically sees an increase in pool closing and winterizing scams.
What BBB sees typically occurs in a pool scam is also true of most other home improvement scams. A “business” will make contact with the homeowner and offer an incredible deal on the project. The “business” may try to justify the low price by saying things like, “We are a large company in another state and are trying to break into the market.” Whatever the reason, the person may explain that they are giving you the price, it is hard to say no to a fantastic offer like that. What typically happens next is they will ask for a partial payment or half of the fee upfront. After they get paid, the person will usually leave and cease communication, or they will start the job and then leave you with an incomplete project.
To make sure you’re not left high and dry with a pool or other type of contractor, BBB of Middle TN and Southern KY compiled a list of hiring tips.
Always get a quote on a project from multiple businesses; this allows you to know the industry standard prices and can help you ask questions. An easy way to get multiple quotes is by going to BBB.org, where you can request multiple quotes quickly.
Talk to at least three different contractors to get a good feel for what’s available. Everything you add to the project impacts the cost. Try to get a quote for a similar plan every time.
See how long they have been in business
Check on the companies BBB profile to see how long they have been in business. Successful construction and maintenance take more than equipment, and one way to tell if a company knows what it is doing is to look at past jobs. Choose a contractor that has been in business with a solid reputation and a list of local references. All accredited companies have an actual body of verified work they have completed and that it has been completed well in the past.
Compare Costs and Quality
Ask the contractors to provide quotes in writing with a breakdown of what that price includes. If a contractor doesn’t supply their bid in writing, find someone who will. Then place all three documents side by side for an apples-to-apples comparison.
Don’t just look at the total. Research the quality and types of materials and work they are doing. For example, if they’re installing a pool, check the filtration system, look at the quality of plaster they quoted you, and what their warranty covers.
Make sure the contractor’s communication style matches yours
If a contractor is too busy to call you back within a reasonable amount of time, that could signal the potential for communication problems later. Look for a contractor that communicates well and asks questions to understand your goals and budget.
Check Organizational Memberships, Certifications, and Licensing
Licensing requirements for contractors vary, depending on where you live. Check with local and state ordinances to see what’s required in yours and look for trade association memberships. If contractors skirt regulations in this area, that’s a red flag, they’ll cut corners in other ways that will cost more in the long run. Know that all BBB accredited businesses have their required licenses before they are certified so that we can save you this step.