Construction & Home Improvement

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Adding a room, renovating an existing room, replacing floor coverings, landscaping your yard, or doing some much-needed repairs? Finding a good contractor is important - a home improvement project gone wrong can cost you. A good ad isn't proof a contractor does quality work. Find out for yourself. Check with friends, neighbors, or co-workers who've had improvement work done, and check out a contractor's reputation on online ratings sites you trust. Get written estimates from several firms, keeping in mind the lowest bidder may not be the best choice. Also important: know the signs of a scam.

DO YOUR RESEARCH

BEFORE YOU HIRE A CONTRACTOR

ASK QUESTIONS

WHAT TYPE OF INSURANCE DO YOU CARRY?
Contractors should have:

WILL YOU BE USING SUBCONTRACTORS ON THIS PROJECT?

UNDERSTAND YOUR PAYMENT OPTIONS.

GET A WRITTEN CONTRACT.
It should be clear and concise and include the who, what, where, when, and cost of your project. Before you sign a contract, make sure it includes:

AFTER YOU HIRE A CONTRACTOR, KEEP RECORDS.
Keep all paperwork related to your project in one place. This includes:

BEFORE YOU SIGN OFF AND MAKE THE FINAL PAYMENT, CHECK THAT:

SIGNS OF A HOME IMPROVEMENT SCAM

How can you tell if a contractor might not be reputable? You may not want to do business with someone who:

THE HOME IMPROVEMENT LOAN SCAM

Here's how the scam works: A contractor calls or comes to your door and offers a deal to make repairs or remodel your home. He says he can arrange financing through a lender he knows. After he starts, he asks you to sign papers; they may be blank - or he might hustle you along and not give you time to read through them. Later you find out you've agreed to a home equity loan with a high interest rate, points, and fees. What's worse, the work on your home isn't done right or isn't completed, and the contractor - who may already have been paid by the lender - has lost interest.

TO AVOID LOAN SCAMS, DON'T: