How to avoid getting ripped off by home contractors

Don't Waste Your Money

No one plans to hire a bad home improvement company.

But if you want to avoid getting ripped off, there are some important steps you need to take.

It happens all the time: a well-meaning contractor walks off the job, never gets started or takes your money and never shows up.

Tri-State homeowner James Van Gorder said a contractor took his money upfront to do roof repairs, but never came back.

"My own sister said, ‘You should call a lawyer. I think this guy is trying to scam you,’" Gorder said.

To avoid a home improvement nightmare, first check the Better Business Bureau or our partners at Angie’s List who say you should try to speak with two or three recent customers before committing to a contractor.

Angie’s List says you should be sure to ask open-ended questions. Don't ask just “yes” and “no” questions.

You want to get the contractor talking so you can pick up tidbits about their experience. It’s also important to keep in mind that a contractor is probably going to give you references that had a good experience – not the negative ones.

Angie’s List recommends you ask a contractor exactly what kind of work they have done.

And ask the contractor’s references if he or she showed up on time and what kind of problems they encountered – if any. Also make sure to ask if the job came in according to budget.

And don’t forget the most important question: Would you hire them again?

The most important thing you can do when hiring a contractor is to do your homework before you sign anything or give a down payment.

Research, use Google and talk to people who have used that contractor so you don't waste your money.

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Don't Waste Your Money is a registered trademark of the EW Scripps Co.

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