Thursday, September 11, 2014

How to Avoid Contractor Fraud

Starting a house project? Read these helpful tips before you hire a contractor.

                -Get a list of reputable contractors from your insurance company, the Better Business Bureau or a specialized consumer organization like Angie’s List.

                -Contact multiple contractors, and obtain more than one estimate.

                -Don’t allow a contractor to inspect your property if you’re not home.

                -When the contractor is inspecting your property, personally watch him conduct the inspection.

                -Obtain the terms and conditions of the project in writing, including details on specific supplies being used     and who will purchase and deliver them. Include an estimated completion date and a price-deduction schedule if work takes longer than promised.

                -Ask about warranties on work.

                -Make sure the contractor gets the necessary permits and puts them in his name.

                -Ask for references from recently completed work. Call them and look at the work if possible. Ask if there were issues and if the homeowner would use the contractor again.

                -Ask the contractor if he has liability insurance, and get the policy number and agency’s name. Call the agency, and ask them to provide you with a liability certificate of insurance. There should be no charge to you as a customer of a contractor.

                -Avoid signing the contract until the document is reviewed fully and/or discuss the terms of the contract with a legal representative or a knowledgeable source.

                -Pay the contractor by check or credit card rather than in cash.

                -Don’t pay for work in advance. If possible, don’t pay until the work is done. If you do agree to pay portions at different stages, make sure the bulk of the payment is made at the end of the project after inspections are passed.

                -Get these details in writing.  
        -Ask for proof of insurance and get certificates of insurance especially workers compensation.

Sources: Ohio Department of Insurance, PIAA of Ohio, and Ted Kinney, CIC, CPCU, ARM