By Kevin Gillies
With spring weather upon us, many folks around the North Fraser region are fixing up their homes.
And with so many home repairs and improvements going on this time of year, the local Better Business Bureau is warning area homeowners who are looking to begin remodeling or repair projects that they should also be on the lookout for home improvement scams.
“A big chunk of business inquiries we get deal with contractors, roofers, painters and landscapers,” says Evan Kelly, senior communications advisor for the BBB serving Mainland B.C.
“Anything with home improvement, especially the exterior, can be the tool of scammers,” he warns. “Crooks can see the outside of a home and convince the homeowner it needs work.”
BBB advises homeowners to be wary of contractors who promise work at discounted prices or show up at your door claiming they’re doing work in your neighborhood.
The BBB recommends the following tips before anyone hires a home improvement business:
• Check out a business — Be sure to check out any business at bbb.org before hiring it. At this website you can view BBB business reviews, read complaints and customer reviews and find out more information about many renovation or repair companies.
• Get multiple estimates — Before agreeing to a work contract, get yourself at least three bids, estimates or quotes in writing. Don’t feel pressured to go with the lowest bid, as it might reflect the quality of materials.
• Ask for references — Ask for at least two or three references from the business’s last few jobs and ask questions about the quality of work. Ask if the work was within budget and on time, and to the customer’s satisfaction.
• Check out licenses — Be sure to check if the business is properly licensed in B.C., if applicable. It’s also important that any business you hire is properly insured if working on your home.
• Get everything in writing — Do not sign a contract until you have read through it entirely. If you made verbal agreements, they should be included in the written contract. Any deposit or payment plans should be included, as well as, any warranties or guarantees.
Evans warns that homeowners should be wary of a few things too:
• Be suspicious of a contractor who approaches you with an offer of a cut rate because he has extra material from a previous job.
• Be wary of lines like, ‘I’m a factory rep and can offer a good deal.’
• Beware contractors who approach you claiming they can see your roof needs work. Always get a second opinion before agreeing to work in this situation.
• Always in business it is best practice for you to instigate any market transaction.
The BBB says it’s always best that you have enough time to look into a company or contractor before agreeing to have any work done.
The BBB is dedicated to helping people find trustworthy businesses and brands. Last year, people turned to BBB more than 165 million times for BBB business reviews — all available for free at bbb.org.
“Before hiring a contractor on the spot, be sure to do your research and check out a business at bbb.org,” Kelly advises.
“There are many local contractors with a good track record that will deliver quality work on time and within budget. You can even request a quote through our website.”
BBB Serving Mainland B.C., founded in 1939 serves the Lower Mainland, Thompson-Okanagan, Northern, Central and Southern Interior BC, and the Yukon.
Kevin Gillies is a freelance writer for Black Press.