The construction industry is not immune to fraudulent activity, and many homeowners have fallen victim to shady contractors. This is usually most frequent after a natural disaster, when homes typically suffer some sort of damage. At this time contractors usually advertise their services, and some may even offer special rates. This can happen at other times as well. Your home will need repairs at some point, but you can avoid becoming a victim of these practices.
- Go local. There are qualified contractors in your area, so don’t be swayed by cheap rates offered by unfamiliar service providers from out of state. If there is a problem, you might have difficulty locating a contractor who is from a different state. You may even find that the contractor is not licensed at all.
- Check the paperwork. Any professional contractor should be able to provide proof of insurance and a current license. Ask any contractor you are considering for this information. You can verify this with your local Better Business Bureau. Any sub-contractors who will be involved in the project should have the necessary licenses and insurances as well. This will protect you if a worker is injured, as you will not face a claim on your homeowner’s insurance, a target of fraudsters.
- Get a contract. Every qualified construction professional will provide clients with contracts that outlines all the details of the project. It will be up to you to read it over and ask questions about anything you don’t understand. Contracts should not be handwritten, and both you and the contractor should have a copy. Be wary of a contractor who tries to push you to sign a contract quickly.
- Avoid cash payments. Generally it is a bad idea to pay in cash because if there is a problem with the work, you will have no way to trace the payment. This might also be an indicator that the company is not legitimate and that this is an attempt to avoid paying taxes. Safer options are paying by check or credit card. You should not make full payment before the work is complete.
- Look for signs of professionalism. Characteristics of a professional in a particular field include a verifiable address, a company website with work samples, marked company vehicles and company stationery.
To protect yourself from construction fraud, you should also learn as much as you can about any subcontractors who will be involved in the work. If you are carrying out repairs, find out whether the work will be covered by your insurance. Fraudsters will always come up with new ways to scam homeowners, so always be cautious when you need work done on your home.
The construction business is not without its fair share of risks; we all understand that. Call us at 407-316-8544 to discuss ways to detect and avoid construction fraud in Orlando and throughout central Florida.