We’ve all heard the stories. An overcharging contractor, a subcontractor who did shoddy work, or a contractor who disappeared altogether. There are unfortunately an almost infinite number of bad apples in the Albuquerque construction and home improvement industries. In order to gain your business, they promise the world, but then run off with your money. These scams target many unsuspecting homeowners every year.
The question is, how can you avoid being taken advantage of by these crooked contractors?
Read reviews and do your research
Reviews of contractors are easier to find now than ever before. Searching online yields a wealth of information, and you should take advantage of it. Choosing the first contractor in Albuquerque you find can be tempting. Reading reviews and doing your research can save you both time and money. You could end up saving thousands of dollars and avoid a lot of headaches by spending a few minutes reading online.
Get multiple estimates, and don't be cheap
You should only hire a qualified contractor if you plan to do home improvement work. It's important to get multiple estimates and research different contractors before selecting one. The first contractor you find or someone who offers low prices may seem appealing.
In the long run, these choices can end up costing you more, as inferior workmanship and low-quality materials can lead to expensive repairs. To make an informed decision about which contractor is right for your project, make sure you get multiple bids and research your options before choosing one.
Do background checks
A thorough background check is essential for large projects. There are a variety of important pieces of information that can be revealed by a background check, including whether the individual has any outstanding debts or legal issues. Furthermore, they can provide information about the quality of their previous work, including complaints from customers and previous employment. Often, background checks reveal things that weren't revealed in reviews, so they are an important part of the research process, particularly if you are hiring someone for a large or expensive project.
Insist on a written contract
A written contract is essential when dealing with any type of contractor. In many cases, contractors claim that they don't normally do things that way, so they don't have to provide a written contract. However, regardless of the words that a contractor uses, it is crucial to have a written contract detailing the terms and conditions of your job.
The written contract provides you with peace of mind by describing exactly what services and materials the contractor will provide, as well as giving you legal recourse in case something goes wrong. When a contractor balks at signing a written contract, this should raise a red flag and you should look for someone who can meet your needs and requirements. A well-written contract cannot be understated, so no matter how persuasive a contractor seems, insist on one!
Never pay a contractor by the hour
It is usually best not to pay contractors by the hour. There are several drawbacks to this approach that can ultimately result in unnecessary costs and frustrations for both parties. To begin with, contractors are incentivized to work more hours than are required by paying by the hour. You may be nickeled and dimed with extra requests and delays in order to get paid more money, even if doing so makes little sense from an operational standpoint. Paying by the hour can also lead to budget overruns and frustrations due to unforeseen costs.
Pay with a credit card
Paying for contractor services with a credit card is always the best option. You will have an added measure of protection in case the work is not completed as planned, or if the quality is not satisfactory. Credit card payments can be disputed with your credit card company if there are problems. By contrast, if you pay cash or write a check, you have no recourse if the job is not done correctly.
Don't pay the full amount until the job is done
It is not uncommon for contractors to request full payment up front and then fail to deliver. As the work is being completed, it is wise to pay in installments and inspect the work before paying the full balance. By doing this, you will have a chance to address any problems that may arise during the work process. Additionally, by paying in installments during the course of the project, you can ensure that you are getting high-quality work for your money and help prevent any unscrupulous contractors from taking advantage of you.
The best way to avoid getting ripped off by a crooked contractor is to do your homework. Get references, check them out, and ask lots of questions. Also, be sure to get everything in writing, including a detailed estimate of all costs. By following these simple tips, you can protect yourself from becoming a victim of contractor fraud.