Look up the problem yourself
LightField Studios/Shutterstock Many repair technicians will try to charge you for a bigger job than you need so they can make more money. If you know that something is wrong with your house, research how other people have fixed it online. A scam that George Strauch, owner of Glass Doctor in Ramsey, NJ, sees a lot is people being charged for completely new windows when a simple solution was available. “When the temperatures inside and outside the home vary drastically, many windows will build moisture on the inside,” says Strauch. “People believe that something is wrong with their windows and many repair technicians will take advantage of this, suggesting that either their windows are old, not sealing properly, or are cracked.” Then, homeowners end up spending thousands of dollars on new windows that they didn’t actually need.
Get a permit
fizkes/Shutterstock This is a step that many homeowners skip because they think it’s a waste of time. To avoid a home improvement scam you should always require your contractor to pull a permit. “By doing all work with a permit, the city will then provide inspections to make sure the work was done to code and by law, the contractor must fix any issues identified by the inspectors,” says Zachary Rose, founder of Rose Architects. “By skipping the permit process, you are at the mercy of the contractor and there is zero accountability for their work.”
Be smart about payments
alinabuphoto/Shutterstock Do not pay more than 25 to 33 percent of the total job cost as a deposit. Hold off on your final payment until the job is finished and you are satisfied with the completed work. Also, don’t make a final payment until you receive a lien waiver stating that the contractor has paid subcontractors and for supplies. These are things every homeowner needs to know ASAP.