The No. 1 Sign You Shouldn’t Work With a Contractor, Experts Warn

Hiring the wrong contractor can be a nightmare for your home. A bad contractor can botch a renovation completely, costing you even more when you have to hire someone new to fix their mistakes. According to Home Advisor, U.S. adults typically spend anywhere from $250 to $58,000 on contractors, which is a lot of money to waste on bad work. But the Better Business Bureau (BBB) is now warning homeowners that shoddy work might be the least of their worries when hiring someone for a home renovation. Read on to find out what they say is the number one sign you shouldn’t work with a contractor.

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Never hire a contractor from an unsolicited offer.

The BBB released a statement July 14 warning homeowners of deceptive “contractors” offering services—with many of the recent scams reported to the BBB Scam Tracker related to driveway repair or paving services. According to the agency, these contractor scams typically start with someone leaving a pamphlet at your door or showing up unannounced at your home to offer their work.

“Be wary of unsolicited offers,” the BBB warns. “Most scams involving contractors begin when a random contractor makes an effort to go out of their way to offer an estimate that was never requested.”

Be wary if they ask for a large payment up front, too.

According to the BBB, a clear sign you may be working with a scammer is that they ask for a large percentage of the total price up front. The agency says that most contractors will require that you give some type of payment before work begins, but it should never be the full price or close to it. If you pay a large sum up front, the scam contractor will likely disappear completely.

“Make an agreement to stagger payments, so work can be inspected at various stages of the project,” the BBB recommends. The BBB also suggests that you pay with a credit card, as you may be able to dispute your charge if the contractor turns out to be a scam.

“If you use a check, write them out to a company, not an individual. Paying cash or using an electronic wallet app is risky, since there is no way to stop the payment or get cash back if anything goes wrong,” the agency explains.

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The BBB says you should research companies and contractors before you hire anyone.

Researching a contractor before you hire them is important, especially if you were contacted through an unsolicited offer. If you’ve been contacted by a scam contractor, their contact number or email may not work. With these types of scams, the BBB says there is likely to be “some hesitancy if there is question on the price or details about the business and where it’s located.”

Using the BBB’s website, you can eliminate contractors that have garnered multiple negative reviews and complaints. You can also do an internet search to find out if the company they claim to work for has been involved in any fraudulent activities or has a history of providing shoddy work.

You should also get everything in writing when working with contractors.

According to the BBB, everything you do with a contractor or contracting company should be done in writing. “Ask for an estimate in writing before payment is even discussed. Don’t let a contractor start working on a project until a written, signed contract outlining start and complete dates, a detailed description of the work to be provided, material costs, payment arrangements, and warranty information is provided,” the agency recommends.

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