While most handymen are dependable and trustworthy, at this time of year in particular, rogue contractors put ads in local newspapers, post notices on bulletin boards and travel door-to-door looking for victims, and taking away business from legitimate contractors.
Connecticut Better Business Bureau President, Paulette Scarpetti, warns consumers can end up losing money and having to get someone to fix sub-standard work if they are not careful.
“Anyone can put a name, cell phone number and fake registration number on the side of a truck and call themselves contractors. Problems arise when they don’t finish their work, use inferior materials or simply disappear with consumers’ deposits.”
When hiring a contractor, it is essential to find someone with a solid track record of satisfying customers. Consumers who select reputable contractors can look forward to reliable work performed with quality materials and projects that are finished on time and within budget.
Avoid contractors who:
Solicit door-to-door, exert pressure to sign a contract on the spot, offer to use “leftover materials” from another job, only accept cash and ask that you pay for the entire job in advance.
Connecticut Better Business Bureau offers the following six tips to keep home improvement projects trouble-free:
Do your research - Research a contractor or handyman’s marketplace record at www.bbb.org.
Compare costs – The least expensive bid is not necessarily the best bid. BBB recommends consumers get project bids from at least three companies.
Verify the credentials – Verify that the company you plan to hire is registered with the Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection, (DCP) and that workers are properly insured and bonded.
In the event of problems with a registered home improvement contractor, Connecticut property owners who meet certain criteria may be eligible for up to $15,000 in compensation from the Home Improvement Guaranty Fund. The fund is a pool of money administered by the DCP, and maintained with money from annual assessments of registered contractors.
References – Door-to-door contractors may claim to have done work for your neighbors, however, BBB recommends asking for references and contact information from their last three jobs that are similar to the work you’d like done.
Get it all in writing – All contractors must provide a written contract specifying a payment schedule, details about the type of work to be done, exact costs, materials, a start and completion date and details about warranty information on products and installation. Connecticut consumers have the right to cancel a contract within three days of signing, under the federal “cooling-off law.”
Deposit and payment – A reasonable deposit would be between 25 and 33 percent of the estimated total project cost. Pay by credit card or a check made out to a company rather than an individual. Never pay with cash.
You will find additional helpful information at http://ct.bbb.org/
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Founded in 1928, Connecticut BBB is an unbiased non-profit organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. For more advice on finding companies and businesses, start your search with trust at www.bbb.org.