On Your Side Investigators: Tips for hiring contractors - NBC12 - Richmond, VA News

On Your Side Investigators: Tips for hiring contractors

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RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) -

Sometimes, no matter what you do to protect yourself, bad things can happen, but here are some tips to help your next home improvement job turn out the way you planned without you getting scammed.

If references cannot be verified, that's a warning. Contractors who demand a large cash-only deposit, or the entire amount up front, should not be hired. If they ask you to write the check to them and 'not' the company, bad thinks can come from that.

James Van Gorder hired a contractor and filed a complaint with 'Angies List' when he says the company took his money up front and never returned to do the roof work.

"Well, that is $5,000.00 that they got from me, but they didn't get that second check, thank God," said Gorder.

The founder of  Angie's List, a membership service that compiles customer ratings
of local businesses, says even if you vetted every candidate, bad things can happen.

"If you find yourself in a bad situation, it's better to cut your losses," said Angie Hicks. "Start over with a new contractor and get it done right."

Many contractors don't like taking on another contractor's unfinished work. Those who do, say the homeowner must be honest and open with the new contractor.

"Be transparent with that person that's coming to look at it with exactly where you stand financially," said contractor Doug Lynch. "Where exactly you stand from a time constraint. What your desires and needs are for the completion of the project."

If you do get scammed, file a complaint with the State Board of Contractors. If he's bonded and doesn't do the work, the contractors' board investigates and you may receive compensation.

"Don't hire the contractor that is not licensed," said Hicks. "Don't hire the contractor that doesn't carry proper insurance, because, while those might seem like little short cuts now, they could turn into big headaches down the road."

Here are some other red flags:
  • The contractor refuses to get building permits and tells you to get them.
  • They offer a special price, if you hire them today.
  • The contractor wants to work on weekends or after hours. 

Remember, always pay in installments as the work progresses - and hold back 10 percent until the job is done and you're satisfied.

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