Keeping the “Con” Out of Contractor

Spring is here and you have a list of home projects you want to tackle, but you are worried, because you’re not the most adept when it comes to the whole DIY thing. Maybe your house needs a new coat of paint or you want to hang some new ceiling fans or light fixtures. Perhaps you have some repairs that need attention or maybe you want to go all out, demolish a wall or two and do some serious renovations. Okay, you have established you don’t want to “do-it-yourself” . . . now what?

Scam artists and fly-by-night companies are rampant in the Contractor/Handyman trades and their favorite targets are unsuspecting homeowners. Single women, single moms and seniors are especially vulnerable to these unscrupulous service providers particularly in cases when the repair needed is an emergency. The time when everyone needs to apply acute scrutiny to a handyman or contractor is in the aftermath of a natural disaster such as a hurricane, flood or tornado. These events not only cause shortages of available service providers but they also stir droves of scam artists out of their hiding places like cockroaches.

Research The Company

One of the first things you should do is a Google search of the business name. Look for complaints or lawsuits and whether or not the business made efforts to resolve those problems. Also check the quality of their website. If their “first impression/best foot forward” is rife with spelling and grammatical errors, odds are they will apply the same attention to quality in your project.

Research The Owner

Run a search on the name of the individual too. Just as with the business, look for complaints or lawsuits levied against the person who is actually going to perform the work. Where the most conscientious service businesses use recruiting companies to locate qualified employees, some home repair businesses simply place an ad in a local paper. Although it was not the intention of the business to hire unskilled labor, their failure to do a bit of research could inadvertently place the clueless employee at your front door.

Use Independent Outside Sources

Another wise step is to log on to your local regulatory website and verify whether or not the business and the individuals who work there are properly licensed in your state. In Florida, there is the Department of Business and Professional Regulation. Staffed by lawyers and former licensed professionals, not only does the DBPR provide information on licensing verification they are also very eager to help you when you realize you’ve been scammed. In addition to the DBPR, Angie’s List is another valuable resource you might want to consider when beginning your investigation process.

Making the proverbial Honey-Do list is the easy part. The challenge is finding a reputable service provider who will solve your problems rather than create a whole new list of headaches for you to deal with. So how do you know if the handyman who shows up to paint your house, hang those fixtures and knock out those walls is really qualified to do the work? The most effective way to avoid the frustrations of un-handymen and the scam artists who put the “con” in “contractor” is to do some homework before you let them near your house.

2 Responses to Keeping the “Con” Out of Contractor

  1. Very helpful article. I’d recommend checking out the Better Business Bureau, as well. Check to see if they get good reviews.

  2. Great post! There are scammers out there I know. However, legitimate contractors get a bad rap from these unlicensed, out of town fakes along with the common stereotypes. Kinda of discriminatory if you ask me. The BBB are sort of useless. They have paid membership and give preference to members, in my opinion.

    The DBPR is good if the contractor has a state license or suit/complaint pending. Local licensing offices can give status on licenses and insurance for local jurisdiction. Best thing is to check their business and owners names out in public record for the county they are located as well as yours. It will show liens and law suits filed.

    Always take 3 bids on any home project.

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