Responsible Contractors exists to arm you with companies you can count on. It’s no secret that crooks will go where the money is. Remodeling and home improvement in the US is more than a $500 billion industry. While there are many honest companies out there, it’s important to be prepared to spot a scam when you see one. Here are some tips for knowing whether or not you can count on a company.
License and Bonding
Washington has many safeguards in place to prevent contractors from scamming the public. Information on every approved contractor is available to the public, so you can check out the company for yourself. Home improvement and remodels come with a lot of specifications. There are permits required, and building codes to which all homeowners and contractors must adhere. A contractor who does not build up to code can end up causing trouble for you as a home owner down the line. Ultimately, it is your responsibility to make sure your home meets all state requirements. Before working with a contractor, verify he is legitimate through WA State LNI. If you can’t find him on LNI, don’t work with him.
In addition to being properly licensed and bonded, a reliable contractor should take out the building permit for you. If asked to attain your own building permit first, be wary. Untrustworthy contractors may ask this so that any failure to meet state requirements will fall on you alone. A trustworthy contractor will take out the permit for you, so the state will know he is the one doing the construction, and will be the first point of contact if something isn’t up to code.
It is normal for companies to request 10%, or up to $1,000 up front, relative somewhat to the scale of the project. If a company is requesting that an excessive amount be paid in advance, it is a red flag. It’s more difficult for you as a homeowner to walk away, or fire a company, that now has a large chunk of your hard-earned money at his disposal. They know that. Be careful about how you turn over your money.
Another red flag to look for is a contractor who asks you to take his word for your requests, and will not put it in writing. A good contractor will be transparent. Every promise should be in writing, and every question should be answered. Contractors that try to scam you will sound agreeable, friendly, and persuasive. They may assure you that even though it isn’t in the proposal, they will be happy to do that for you. Be careful: If it isn’t in writing, it isn’t guaranteed. A contractor that is unethical will make assurances and promises that aren’t in writing in order to win your business, without any follow through. If it isn’t in writing, there is little to no legal obligation on their end, regardless of hearsay. Read the proposal carefully. A contractor you can rely on will be open and transparent with all your concerns!
Hiring on the Spot
There are companies out there that do not allow the customer time to check out their references and licenses. Often times a company will drive up and knock on your door, claiming they have leftover product that they can give you a great bargain off if you say yes immediately. Whether paving a driveway, landscaping, or storm repair, it’s risky. There are times it may be a good financial deal, but if anything goes wrong, without prior diligence, you will have little to no protection. It’s worth spending a little more to ensure you’ll work with a company who will take care of you long after the fact.
Scams do exist, and companies do fail to provide what they promise, but you don’t have to be a victim of this! Know what to watch out for and how to check out a company. When you’re ready to remodel, visit responsiblecontractors.com first! We endorse companies that are properly licensed, ethical, trustworthy and reliable. You’re putting thousands of your dollars up to create the home of your dreams: You should have peace of mind throughout the process.