How to Not Get Scammed by So-Called General Contractors

The East Coast has been slammed by multiple hurricanes in the last decade—sometimes even in the same year—which means the numerous people affected are all looking for contractors to help them rebuild. Even if you’re not trying to repair damage from a hurricane, it’s easy to be taken advantage of by a shady contractor. How do you know who is operating above board, and who should be avoided? Contractor scams are easy to spot once you know how.

Here are our best tips on how to avoid contractor scams:

  • Don’t be rushed: If you’re hiring a contractor due to storm damage, you should be very cautious of anyone who wants to start the remodeling process immediately. It’s crucial that your home undergo mold remediation—and be completely dried out—before work can begin. That’s a two- to three-week process. This is also just a matter of general wisdom. If a contractor pushes you to hire them and get started right away, before you can research them and discuss all the details, steer clear. There are scam contractors called “storm chasers” that travel to storm-affected areas to take advantage of local residents. However, this can happen anywhere. Trust your gut and get all the facts first.
  • Look up their license and insurance: Verify your contractor’s business license, contractor’s license and insurance policy before you let them so much as lift a hammer. Search online for a legitimate website, reviews and customer testimonials. Contact your state licensing and insurance boards to make sure everything is up to date.
  • Hire a local contractor: When you work with a local company, you’re less likely to encounter shady business practices—especially because they’re less likely to pick up and leave without completing the job.
  • Get quotes from multiple contractors: Getting prices from multiple contractors ensures that you won’t get sucked into a “too good to be true” quote. You’ll get a better idea of what kind of pricing is the average.
  • Make sure you get it in writing: If a contractor offers to forgo contracts in order to start right away, consider that a giant, waving red flag. You should get the quote in writing, as well as a contract. Be sure you understand what’s included in the price and what the timeline may be.
  • Don’t let them neglect permits: Another giant red flag is when a contractor offers to start without getting building permits. This exposes you to legal liability, fines, fees and delays to your project. Always have them secure permits.
  • Ask for customer testimonials: Ask if they know anyone who would be willing to let you look at a job they’ve done, or who will talk to you about their experience. Most contractors are happy to provide this information.
  • Document the work: Finally, take photos and videos to document the project’s progress throughout. If an issue arises, you’ll have proof of what’s been done—and what hasn’t.

Now that you know how to avoid contractor scams, call John G. Moser & Son, Inc. for a quote.