6 Home Improvement Scams To Watch For

It’s Home Improvement Scam Season! Bankrate has 6 phrases that you should watch out for if a home improvement scammer comes calling:

• “I just happen to be working in your neighborhood.”
• “I have materials left over from another job.”
• “I need the cash up front.”
• “I have a special offer that’s good for today only.”
• “I can help you finance the project.”
• “I want to use your home as a model.”

We’d like to add that whenever you are considering a home improvement project, you should get several estimates and ask for references. Don’t hire some guy who shows up at your door. —MEGHANN MARCO

6 sleazy home improvement scams [Bankrate]
(Photo: seawallrunner)

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  1. johnsonjackson says:

    The ” I need the cash up front” words have been used on me. The result a partially finished project and no way to right the wrong. In the end it would have cost more to sue the contractor than it was worth. Be Careful!!!!

  2. monkeyboy says:

    After Katrina, I hired some guy passing buy to do some very minor work on my siding. He was “working in the neighborhood”. His truck was filled with all the equipment needed. For $75, it saved me a lot of hassle to find someone, and he did a good job.

    Granted, if I had $500+ work to be done, I probably would have gotten some references. :)

  3. mikesfree says:

    What area code is the free house in? IF that were in california it would be worth 2 million.

  4. tcabeen says:

    @mikesfree: Hah! I was about to ask. I’m definitely interested, and this is just in my price range!

  5. Hedgy2136 says:

    Get a contract UP FRONT detailing exactly what work is to be done, in what time frame and costs. I can’t stress that enough. If it isn’t in writing, good luck getting the work done to your satisfaction or suing. NEVER hand over all of the money until you are completely satisifed that your contractor has fulfilled his obligations.

  6. shdwsclan says:

    I dont know about a small job, your making a risk.
    There was a story in my nieghborhood that some landlord hired a contractor that was working illegally, was working as a contractor illegally as a contractor[no liscense] and didnt even speak english all because they were of the same nationality .

    The JOB = paint a recently vacated unit.

    The Problem = The contractor left a worklight lit near paint thinner, and the canister exploded, the room was engulfed in flames, then the roof started on fire, and then the entire apartment complex and the adjacent complex also started on fire. The street was closed because the smoke was so black.
    In the end, 3 people lost their lives, 30 families lost their homes and possessions. Many of them did not make much money.

    So, a $75 paint job turned in to the contractor having his visa revoked and deported for free to his country of origin and banned or something.

    The landlord lost a major piece of real estate and the rest of any cash in his savings from the 30 negligence litigations and lets not forget the 3 people dead.

    So, basically, an unlicenced contractor is something you take a very big risk on. Since you will probably have to supervise this guy, your better off doing the work yourself if your not mentally or physically handicapped.

  7. The Bigger Unit says:

    They forgot “I work for Home Depot…”.

  8. Mary_Beth says:

    A couple of other things to consider:

    - If anyone is going door to door in your neighborhood, check them out with the local police. Some counties require everyone who is soliciting to obtain a “peddler’s” license. Plus the police may know if there have been any reports of theft with the same MO.

    - If he says he’s doing work in the neighborhood…check with your neighbors.

    - Be wary of out of state license plates. There are people who just travel around the country pulling scams like this…also watch to see if he’s got the whole family riding shotgun in the truck.

  9. Terminixsux says:

    Oh, and don’t forget to be wary of the so-called legitimate contractors like Terminix. Their slimy salespeople will tell you about your infestation, sell you a very expensive system with frequent check-ups. Then their service technicians will fail to show up, and when they do, their system will never find any of the insects from the reported infestation.

    They know you’ll worry about the potential loss to your biggest investment, and then they prey upon that worry. And their guarantee, hah!! The damage was probably pre-existing or for some other reason it won’t be covered.

    I have an insect eaten porch and a bunch of those bait traps still in my yard as a testament to their ineffectiveness and fraudulent practices. Forget the BBB. They seem to be right in pockets of this corrupt organization.

    If you want more examples of this, just check out:

    http://www.consumeraffairs.com/homeowners/terminix.html

    http://www.syix.com/emu/html/tcc32.html

    http://www.hometimemedia.com/692693.html

    http://www.ripoffreport.com/reports/ripoff195799.htm

    http://www.syix.com/emu/html/tcc28.html


    The list goes on….

  10. Celeste says:

    I dunno…. we just got our driveway paved at a discount because one of our neighbors was having his done. He (the neighbor) called around to some of the other residents on the block to let us know he was having it done, and the paving company lowered the prices for all of us, since they could get all that business in one location in one day. We did check out the company in question before agreeing to the deal, but it cost us significantly less than previous estimates we’d seen. So sometimes it does pay off to work with someone ‘who just happens to be working in your neighborhood’. And it’s so much nicer than the old gravel drive.

  11. Terminixsux says:

    I refreed my tree guy to the neighbors too, and he made out quite well. This was a bit different, as I knew he was ligit. I suppose looking for these convenience deals islike buying the speakers from the wierd guy in the van. Good price, but you are gambling with the product. Your best bet is to evaluate the risks, and if you’re feeling good or lucky, roll the dice. Otherwise, pay more and get piece of mind.

  12. Terminixsux says:

    refreed…DOH!! “Referred” I wish this had spell check as I am a horrible typist, two fingers at a time.

  13. rugger_can says:

    @Celeste:

    Indeed, my parents had the same done for them. They where a well known local company that was doing their neighbors drive. He (the neighbor) came over and let him know about it. Funny thing was he had been quoted more from them when he was interested and he ended up saving a bit on shear luck. They did a great job.

    But having said that, those circumstances alone would be the exception that proves the rule. These “scams” are praying upon the exception to con you into false sense of security. So unless you can trust the referral or know of the company. Just say no thanks or get their quote and shop around. Besides home reno’s are not something one would purchase with the same bravado as girl guide cookies one would assume?

  14. tcabeen says:

    @Terminixsux: Firefox has spellcheck built in.
    For instance, in this post, href, your username, and spellcheck are underlined with red dots. Instance was also underlined with red dots, because I had spelled it isntance. Just something to consider, if you really do want spellcheck. :)

  15. Canadian Impostor says:

    @Celeste: That’s a different situation. Your neighbor saying “Let’s pool in” is different than some guy knocking on your door and offering to pave your driveway.

  16. CaptainRoin says:

    @The Nature Boy: beat me to it. I was going to say “Welcome to Home Depot!”

  17. texasannie says:

    My parents had the siding on their house done at a discount by a contractor who contacted them because he wanted to use the house as a model. Their house is on a corner lot, so driving by and turning the corner lets you see all four sides of the house. They signed a contract, no money was exchanged upfront, and everything went as planned. The job was done well, and at a good price. Everyone came out ahead on that one, and 14 years later the siding still looks great.

  18. Shea says:

    @Mary_Beth

    For the past thirty years, my father has supported our family by working as a mason exclusively in one upper-class neighborhood in Virginia. He’s never advertised, never gotten a license or insurance, and has gotten clients exclusively by word of mouth and door-knocking.

    His clients have been high-profile lawyers, owners of major sports teams, and government officials. They haven’t been turned off by his dirty pick-up truck with out-of-state plates or his lack of a license. Instead, they take him up on his offer to show them a few of the jobs he’s done in the neighborhood, and then they reap the benefits of high-quality work done at an unbeatable price.

    I don’t want to live in a society where I call the police every time someone knocks on my door. Use your best judgment when it comes to solicitations, but don’t freak out just because some one puts more effort into personal connections rather than more modern marketing techniques.

  19. unamericanvalues says:

    This is one of the things I love about America(NOT), “I’m with Home Depot your roof will fall of in a year or two, if you give me eight thousand dollars up front. I’ll have an unlicensed illegitimate day laborer over at your place to replace the roof within three years. This amazing deal of a life time could be yours if you give me eight thousand dollars.”

    I mean come on, who couldn’t resist the deal of a life time?