The Nuts and Bolts: September 17, 2013 The Nuts and Bolts: September 17, 2013

A little DIY, FYI…

Is it just me or are home improvement scams rampant these days? Not a week goes by without some news story about a family or elderly couple swindled out of their savings and left with a shoddy home improvement job, if anything. It’s heart breaking, really.

Many of us here at have had plenty of interaction with contractors, both good and bad, and we’ve noticed a few clear indicators that will tell you if the person you’re working with is trustworthy or going to leave you weeping and broke.

Man scamming old couple
“I’m scamming you!” “We like ham too!”

Here are our top 5 telltale signs of a scammer:

1. The classic “free” consultation. Free inspections are just a scammer’s way of saying “Let me find every minor flaw with your house and scare you into expensive renovations.” Don’t allow a contractor into your home unless you know and trust them or have thoroughly groomed their references. Otherwise, you’re only opening your door to their intimidation games.

Sleezy looking character.
...I have a good feeling about this guy.

2. On the spot decision. Hiring a contractor is not just about paying them, but in most cases giving them complete access to your home. This is a serious decision to be making. You need to be sure that this person is absolutely 100 percent trustworthy, and when they pressure you to make a quick decision, it’s probably a sign they aren’t. Time reveals everything, friends, and a con artist know this as well as anyone.

3. So, you have no friends? Remember all those references you had to list in your last job interview? There is a reason major corporations rely on those, and you should too. A contractor proud of their work is always eager to send you to former clients. Just be sure to really confirm these are real references and not just the contractor trying to win an Oscar.

lonely contractor
A shady contractor…cursed to a life of lonely benches.

4. Dollar, dollar, bills y’all. A wise person once said, “Nothing good happens at an ATM past midnight” which lends itself to this next scam indicator. When a contractor wants cash and only cash, they are trying to minimize their paper trail presence. Paper trails don’t worry reputable people—only evil villains bent on world domination (or just leaving you with a half-finished kitchen). Always make sure there is a record of your payment to them, or else it’s just your word against theirs.

Trashed kitchen
Your mother-in-law will probably say this is an improvement.

5. But I want it now! Following on the coattails of our last telltale sign, along with wanting cash, scammers typically want all or a majority of the money upfront. How very convenient for them! Whether they do the job, don’t do the job, or do a garbage job, they already got paid… and good luck getting that money back (no paper trail, remember?).

So there it is-- our top 5 telltale signs that you’re dealing with a scammer! When you absolutely, positively cannot DIY it, make sure you’re hiring a trustworthy profession and don’t be afraid to do your homework and take time with your decision.

Got a New Project You're Proud of?

Post it on Your Projects!