Be on watch for Home Improvement scams


If you watch enough court TV, you'll know that there's a lot of unscrupulous home improvement contractors out there.

Don't be shy about asking several potential contractors many questions:

  • How many projects like the one I want have you completed in the last 12 months?
  • Are you insured and bonded?
  • Will you need a permit?

Never, ever rely upon a verbal contract! Get everything in writing! Avoid vague references; get all the details down including cost.

Red Flags:

  • A contractor who shows up at your door trying to get your business. If he just happens to be in the line of work that coincides with a current need you have, don't let this sway you.
  • Rushes you for a commitment or has a sense of urgency
  • Will take only cash
  • Has materials "left over" from a prior project; don't get suckered into this if he offers you a discount due to these "left over" materials.
  • Wants YOU to get the required permits
  • Wants upfront payment

Additional Tips

  • Investigate online sites that give legitimate reviews.
  • Ask the candidate to see examples of previous similar projects they've done.
  • Ask about their experience and how long they've been in business.
  • Try to go with a reputable company rather than "Joe" from a few blocks away.
  • Check for things like licensing and certification. Make sure their licensing is current.
  • Google the prospective contractor. In the search engine, pair their name with keywords like "rip-off," "scam" and "complaint."
  • Get references from trusted family members and friends, though don't put all of your stock in a reference.
  • Consider "Angie's List".

After going through the above checklists, your next step is to obtain written estimates; no phone or in-person oral estimates. The lowest bidder isn't necessarily the best choice. If someone's bid is notably lower than the other candidates,' ask why.

Robert Siciliano personal and home security specialist to discussingburglar proofing your home on Fox Boston. Disclosures.

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