With spring in full force and many homeowners starting on renovation projects during COVID, BBB is reminding homeowners to avoid getting scammed by doing careful research before they spend their hard-earned money.
“Now is typically the time each year when BBB starts receiving an influx of complaints related to home improvement projects going sour,” says Rosalind Scott, president & CEO of BBB serving Vancouver Island. “Scams typically involve victims paying cash up front to contractors for jobs that are never completed, while complaints usually involve consumers being unhappy with the work completed by a contractor, especially for the price they’ve paid for the job.”
Whether you are remodeling your home, making needed repairs, or sprucing things up to put your house on the market, the following tips will help make your next home improvement project a success.
- Come up with a budget and stick to it. Home improvement projects can get expensive, fast. If you don’t want to break the bank, create a realistic budget to figure out how much you can spend ahead of time. Be upfront with contractors you hire about how much you can spend on a project as well.
- Think about the pros and cons of DIY projects. If time and motivation is no problem for you, you may be able to tackle some basic home improvement projects on your own, but other projects may require further expertise. If you don’t have a background in construction, it’s usually best to hire a contractor to help with larger projects, such as plumbing, tiling, tree removal, exterior painting, and general remodels.
- Give high priority to projects that keep your home clean and safe. If your home is in need of repairs, take care of those projects first. For example, fix that leaky roof before you give your home’s walls a fresh coat of paint. In addition, don’t forget to stay on top of regular home maintenance tasks to maximize the cleanliness and safety of your home.
- Up the value of your home with a bathroom or kitchen remodel. Remodeling your bathroom or kitchen can completely change the look and feel of your home, creating a space you enjoy being in – not to mention it can add quite a bit of value to your home. For large scale remodels, hire a contractor that specializes in construction and remodeling services.
- Improve energy efficiency. Save money (and the environment) by improving the energy efficiency of your home. Energy saving projects that are worth taking on include checking and replacing the seals on all windows and ducts in your home, installing new windows, and looking into green energy options like solar panels.
- Get multiple quotes from contractors. When you are ready to start your home improvement project, be sure to get multiple quotes from several different companies. Never be pressured into hiring the first person you speak with. Comparing pricing and services is a critical step in choosing a skilled contractor you can trust.
- Properly vet contractors before you hire. Even if the price is right, don’t hire a contractor before doing some research. Ask the contractor to provide references. Look up their name or company name online and pay close attention to any reviews or complaints from previous customers. Verify that the contractor is licensed and insured and get an estimate and contract in writing. Read contracts carefully before you sign them.
- Think about permits. For larger projects, you may need to pay for building permits. Do you research ahead of time and understand that even if you hire a contractor, you may still be responsible for the cost of the permits.
- Don’t get scammed. Stay alert to any suspicious behavior on the part of “home improvement specialists.” Red flags include not putting things into writing, demanding upfront payment, unexpected price changes, high-pressure sales tactics, unsolicited free inspections (that usually reveal the need for an urgent repair), and cash-only deals.
For more information about BBB serving Vancouver Island visit: bbb.org/Vancouver-island.