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Avoid a Home Repair Scam

Here are some tips to avoid getting ripped off by someone posing as a contractor.

Many people in this area suffered roof and home damage following the storm earlier this week. Sadly, there are people who will come to damaged areas and try to take advantage of the situation. 

According to the National Association of the Remodeling Industry - Building Industries Exchange (NARI-BIE), con artists will often show up in neighborhoods affected by disasters and solicit business, offering "great deals" and usually asking for a large down payment. NARI-BIE says that often, they offer you a discount because the materials are "left over" from a local job.

Spotting these con artists is sometimes difficult, but there are things you can look for and ways to check them out. 

NARI-BIE says, "Frequently, these fly-by-night operators drive vehicles with out-of-state license plates, or set up temporary offices from which they can move quickly once authorities start looking for them."

There are several signs that a contractor might not be legitimate. A homeowner should think twice if a contractor:

  • Comes to your door unsolicited.
  • Uses high-pressure sales tactics.
  • Requests full payment before completing the work.
  • Gives a post office box without a street address or phone number.
  • Promises to begin and complete the work more quickly and cheaply than any other company.
  • Says they just finished work on your neighbor's house and have just enough materials to do repair work on yours.  They might say they can give you a better bargain if you let them do the work today since they have the supplies now.

Prior to agreeing to allow anyone to work on your home, NARI suggests that a homeowner:

  • Get the name and address of the company that person allegedly represents.
  • Get all details of the offer in writing and carefully review it. Be sure you understand everything in the contract and that any verbal promises made are included in the contract.
  • Determine how long the company has been in business and call organizations with which the contractor is affiliated, such as NARI or other trade associations, to determine the firm's legitimacy.
  • Ask for references and contact each one.
  • Remember that any legitimate company that wants your business will be more than willing to allow you the time to do your homework.  Don't fall prey to high-pressure tactics such as "this is the only chance you have" or "by tomorrow the extra materials will be gone."

[This information was adapted from a press release submitted by NARI-BIE.]

About NARI-BIE:  Building Industries Exchange (NARI-BIE), a non-profit trade association serving the construction industry and their allied businesses, since 1952, is best-known in the community as the sponsor of the Pottstown Home Show, returning to Sunnybrook March 1-3, 2013 and local contractor referral organization.  Additional information about NARI-BIE services and programs may be obtained by visiting the Exchange’s website at http://pottstownbie.org, their office located at 801 North Charlotte Street in Pottstown, or by calling 610-323-1700.

NARI is a professional association whose members voluntarily subscribe to a strict code of ethics.  Homeowners may wish to search www.NARI.org for additional tips, or to find a qualified professional who is a member of NARI.  Homeowners may also call the NARI National hotline at 847-298-9200 and request a free copy of NARI's brochure, "How to Select a Remodeling Professional.”

matthew Dickson November 03, 2012 at 03:56 AM
I work for home depot we have been hearin a lot about this. We call it the tail light warrenty. Once u see their tail lights its over..... that's y were offefin services like roofing n others...or atleast that's what they tell us
James Derstine November 03, 2012 at 04:26 AM
If I've counted correctly, the same company has come to my door (in Lansdale) five times this year offering free estimates for new siding and windows. When, I politely declined, they went on with their sales pitch until I just repeated no and closed the door. I'm kicking myself now for not remembering their name, but it certainly seemed like a shady business practice. If I decline your free estimate four times over a six month span, why would you come back a fifth time? I guess their employees must work on commission but how annoying and unprofessional.
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