Need to Make a Home Repair? Here's How to Avoid the Scams
From time to time, every homeowner needs some type of repair around the house. Fortunately, there are people who make a living handling home repair tasks ranging from installing new doorknobs to major renovations.
However, not everyone who claims to be a home repair specialist actually has the skills or the motivation to do the job right. If you want to outsource home repairs to someone who will do a professional job for a reasonable charge, here are some ideas on what to look for.
Bonding and Liability Coverage
Verifying that the service provider is bonded and insured is a primary concern. Fly-by-night scam operators usually don't go through the trouble and expense of protecting themselves and their customers from possible mishaps.
The Right License
Check with your local municipality regarding licensing laws that pertain to contractors and others who offer home repair services. In the United States, it is not unusual for anyone offering repair services that are likely to run over $10,000.00 USD to need a contractor's license.
Some jurisdictions require painters, cabinetmakers, and carpet installers to also have a license to operate. Once you know what type of license is required to perform the repair you have in mind, only deal with businesses and individuals that have the right credentials.
Estimates in Writing Only Please
Always ask for an estimate in writing. Honest home repair professionals have no problem providing this type of documentation. In fact, they are likely to offer a written estimate. If there is any hesitation about supplying a written estimate, thank the individual for his or her time and move on to the next service provider on your list.
How Much Up Front?
Expect to pay a percentage of the projected final cost before the work actually commences. Try to keep that amount to no more than one-fourth of the grand total. The remainder is due once the job is completed and you are happy with the results. If this type of arrangement is a problem, then you know that particular provider is not for you.
Staying in Touch
At a minimum, you want at least one telephone number and a physical address. Take the time to verify both are valid. Many providers also offer landline numbers or pagers in addition to mobile numbers and physical addresses. A post office box is fine as long as you still know the physical location of the business.
Check Those References
Don't forget references. Ethical home repair professionals are happy to provide these. Once you have them in hand, follow up with each one. Get information like how easy it was to work with the provider, satisfaction with the quality and timeliness of the work, and if the customer would hire the provider for future projects. If anything you hear strikes you as being too good to be true or causes any type of unease, look for another provider.
Should you find later that the work was not done according to your specifications or the agreement is not honored in any manner, contact the provider and attempt to settle the matter amicably. If that is not possible for any reason, don't hesitate to contact local consumer protection agencies and watchdog groups. In the long run, you will do the community a great service.
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