Metro Nashville Police Department just shared this article from the Middle Tennessee Council of Aging with tips for hiring contractors:
“Spring is the season for home repair and home improvement. Some homeowners may have a hard time physically and/or financially maintaining their homes. It is because of this that they are targeted by scammers. Most contractors are honest and hardworking but how can you tell? Here are five ways to identify if a con-tractor is trying to defraud you.
1. “You’ll Need to Pay First”
According to the Better Business Bureau, this is the most common scam report-ed. The contractor will tell you that materials and equipment need to be ordered. Once you hand over the money, a couple things can happen. One, they disap-pear. Two, they complete the work carelessly and haphazardly.
2. “Trust Me”
You have hired your contractor, you have sat down and discussed what work you want done and your expectations and the contractor agrees. Now it is time to sign the agreement. You notice some of the details and upgrades are not includ-ed. The contractor tells you to “trust me”; it will be taken care of. The next thing you know, the work is not done. Now the contractor tells you that he did not in-clude those extras in the quote he gave you and you will have to pay more mon-ey.
3. “We Don’t Need a Permit”
Any significant construction project is required to have building permit. This al-lows officials to visit occasionally to ensure the work meets safety codes. Dis-honest contractors will tell you that a permit is not required. Others will try to have you take out a homeowner’s permit. That would mean lying to authorities about who was doing the work and make you responsible for monitoring the in-spections.
4. Unexpected Problems
The construction has started or even finished and suddenly the contractor tells you there were unforeseen issues like termites and now the price has skyrock-eted. Sometimes additional fees are legit, but other times dishonest contractors will bid very low to get their foot in the door and then increase the cost later.
5. Extra Materials
This fraud usually comes from paving companies or roofers or painters. They tell you that they have extra materials and they can perform the work dirt-cheap. A couple things can happen. One, they actually do not do the work and take off with your money. Two, they start the work and the job is more involved than they thought and it will cost even more. Third, the work is completed care-lessly and in one year your roof is leaking or driveway cracking.
Here are just a few tips to be aware of:
Hire contractors currently licensed from the TN Board of Licensing contractors. Call 1-800-544-7693 to verify the license. You can also ask the Board if they have had any complaints.
Ask the Board if the contractor has paid the insurance bond. This will protect you if the company goes out of business or does shoddy work.
Use word of mouth. Ask friends, neighbors, etc. for suggestions who did great work.
Ask for references and verify those references.
Avoid using a contractor that only has a PO Box or answering service.
Call the BBB at 615-242-4222 or TN Consumer Affairs Division at 615-741-4737 to see if any complaints have been filed
Always get more than one bid from different contractors”