For some homeowners, DIY is actually more favourable to them than hiring a contractor to carry out the work. Aside from the financial savings related to DIY, some fraudulent tradesmen have really given contractors a bad name. With television shows constantly airing and unearthing rogue traders and neighbours filling your ears with tales of their horror stories from the builder who “ruined their driveway and drained them of their savings”, hiring a contractor can be a scary prospect.
The problem lies with the fact that you have minimal or no knowledge in the contractor’s area of work and you have to hand over a hefty sum of money to get the work done. How do you know when you’ve found a reasonable quote? How do you know if their work will be to a satisfactory standard? The truth is, you’re putting your trust (and money) into a stranger’s hands. Hiring a contractor however, needn’t be such a gamble if you are aware of some of the most common techniques used by these con artists.
Always beware of door-to-door salesmen who “happen to be in the area” with spare materials left over from another job. These rogue traders typically knock on your door and quote you with a seemingly attractive price to overhaul a certain aspect of your home, right there and now.
Scam artists are often reported to offer homeowners a new driveway (or similar) with spare materials they claim to have left over from a job they have just completed for one of homeowner’s neighbours. Often, these materials have actually been stolen from a previous job (the last customer is likely to have paid for them when having their job done) and although they will eagerly provide the service they’re offering, expect bitter disappointment with the finished product.
Sit back and think: Reputable tradesmen would never have the time to go door-to-door and “offer their services” to neighbours. It’s more than likely the job you’ve had done will start to crumble in a very short space of time, and it’s even more likely that the “convenient” fraudulent contractors won’t be around to hear your complaint…
One of the easiest scam techniques to detect is when a tradesman asks for all or a considerable proportion of the bill upfront. They may use the spiel that they “need the money for materials” which, at first glance, is quite believable.
When you’ve given the con artist the money they require, they head off to “get their materials” and as you wait long into the night for their return, it becomes apparent you’ve been taken for a ride. You ring the number on their business card they left with you and find a dead line or it goes straight to voicemail.
If a contractor asks you for an upfront fee, it should never be in excess of 10% of the total bill or $1000 (if that’s less than 10%). If they’re asking for any more then kindly decline their services, the chances are they’ll complete the work to a less than satisfactory standard or won’t complete it at all.
Sit back and think: In what other situation would you ever gladly hand over large sums of money to a stranger before receiving their goods/service? There’s no reason why the contractor can’t wait until you’re happy with their work before receiving payment.
One of the scammers’ favourite techniques used by rogue traders is to “assess” your house and identify a potentially catastrophic problem. They swoon in like heroes, rescuing you from your crumbling house. The only issue here is that the “problem” they’ve identified is actually very minor or never there to start with. In some instances, con artists have even reportedly caused intentional damage to homeowners’ properties so they can diagnose and fix the problem and obtain a heap of cash for doing so.
These con artists charge you a large sum of money to fix an allegedly huge problem that you believe to be true. The clever part aspect of these scams is that there’s a small chance of them getting caught, once you’ve handed over the money and found that your problem’s fixed you’ll commend them for doing a good job – earning them reputation and opening the doors for them to scam even more people/
Never hire a contractor to perform work for you if they’re the first to give you a quote. How are you supposed to calculate a reasonable amount to pay for the work if you don’t have a second opinion? Plus, you’re more likely to get a reputable contractor to bring their price down if you tell them of other, lower quotes you’ve received.
Sit back and think: Would you ever go shopping for a product with a high price tag without comparing its price to other shops first? When handing over large sums of money you need to think rationally, never feel pressured by a contractor to hire them there and then. Reputable tradesmen will allow you time to make your decision on whether to hire them or not without being pushy.
When choosing a contractor to renovate your home you need to be aware of scam techniques so you can identify and avoid them. Where possible ask friends, neighbours and relatives to recommend a contractor who they hired and whose work they were more than happy with. Always go with your gut instinct to, if a price seems to low there could be a reason behind that. Of course, if you’re wary of a firm you could always search their name on the internet to see if they have any scam stories about them.
Stephanie Staszko is a home improvement writer for Bathshop321, who retail bathroom accessories and suites for renovation and remodelling.