How to Avoid Houston Contractor Scams When Making Home Repairs
Whether from friends, neighbors, family members, you name it, we’ve all heard stories about the homeowner who was scammed by their contractor. Simple tasks around your Houston home like taking down trees, paving driveways or even replacing indoor fixtures can become a big hassle if you haven’t done your research on the experts you’ve hired to do the job. But that doesn’t mean you should shy away from having the work done entirely, there are dozens of ways to protect yourself from becoming another story passed around the neighborhood.
Here are several ways to avoid contractor scams when making repairs to your Houston home:
Before you sign on the dotted line with just any contractor, you will want to gather recommendations from friends, family and others who have had similar work done. Don’t make any quick decisions based on a special discount you see in an ad or contractors that cold contact you. If you need additional options, ask your KW Energy Corridor Team agent— Remember, your agent is a wealth of resources!
Don’t rely on verbal agreements
Even if your contractor comes highly recommended, it is always smart to get every detail in writing. You may have had a nice conversation about the scope of your project and you’re certain the contractor understands the work you want completed, don’t rely on your verbal agreement alone. If something goes awry, you have few legal protections as you signed the contract that didn’t include everything you discussed.
Don’t provide money upfront
One common scam tactic is to ask clients for money upfront before any work is completed. Even if your contractor explains that the money is to cover the materials he has already ordered or equipment he has rented to complete the job, you should never pay more than 10 percent of the total upfront.
Always require a building permit
Building permits are required for any construction project of significance, but it is not uncommon for contractors to try to skirt the rules and avoid pulling one for their job. Contractors may also try to have you apply for a homeowner’s permit, which is typically for do-it-yourself projects, and places the liability on the homeowner alone. Always ask the contractor to pull a building permit which will keep unlicensed contractors away from your project and ensures they answer to the inspector, not you.
Plan ahead for changes
While one hopes that their home repair project will move forward without any unforeseen obstacles, a wise homeowner knows to expect them and plans ahead. The last thing you want is for your contractor to inform you they have run into problems along the way, which will drive up your costs. Get a plan in writing prior to signing your contract about how to process change orders and require a written approval from both the contractor and yourself before moving ahead.
Making small improvements to your Houston home can make a big difference in the eyes of a buyer, and of course, your home value! If you’re making repairs to your home in preparation to sell, the next step is to consult the expert advice of the KW Energy Corridor Team!
KW Energy Corridor Team
11757 Katy Fairway | Suite 930
Houston, TX 77079