1. License? What license?
With the economy rebounding, homeowners may be more likely to include remodeling projects in their 2015 budgets. Spending on home improvements has nearly recovered from the Great Recession, with an estimated $314 billion spent in 2014, up from a low of $276.5 billion in 2011, says Kermit Baker of the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University.
That means more business for good and bad contractors alike. Unfortunately for consumers, telling the two apart isn’t always easy.
2. Our contract favors me
When it’s time to sign on the dotted line, most contractors will present homeowners with a boilerplate agreement, experts say. While it’s fine to start off with a standard document from the American Institute of Architects or other organization, the contractor should add plenty of detail particular to the job, Pendleton says. At worst, a boilerplate contract with scant detail leaves a contractor too much wiggle room to add expenses or cut corners, and at best it leaves room for misunderstanding.
3. I could take your money and run
Home improvement and construction complaints ranked second out of the top 10 consumer complaints of 2012, according to a Consumer Federation of America survey of state and local consumer protection agencies. Industry experts say that such scams can run the gamut including doing shoddy work, failing to complete the job, and preying on natural disaster victims. And some scammers simply collect a down payment on a job and disappear.
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