Avoid contractors looking to work on your pocketbook

John North, Dayton Better Business Bureau president. CONTRIBUTED

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John North, Dayton Better Business Bureau president. CONTRIBUTED

Spring is a little over a week away. For many, the start of spring is the time to start tackling home improvement projects. Taking the correct precautions before hiring a contractor can help reduce a negative experience. Better Business Bureau can help you find a trustworthy contractor to get the job done right.

Over the last year, more than 3.5 million inquiries and more than 4,100 complaints were recorded about general contractors with your BBB across North America. Locally, nearly 28,000 inquiries were recorded during this same time period. Nationally, general contractors were the second most inquired about industry during this period.

BBB’s Scam Tracker took nearly 90 reports of home improvement scams national since Jan. 1 of this year. Losses to these scams were more than $77,000 during this time or an average loss of about $880 each. (Scam Tracker is a tool that provides consumers and businesses across North America with a place to report scams and fraud, and to warn others of malicious or suspicious activities.)

BBB recommends a few tips for finding a reliable contractor this spring:

• Consider a company’s reputation and years of service.

• Shop around and get at least three quotes. Don’t settle for the lowest bid.

• Consider the time the contractor takes to deliver the estimate. Did you get it by the date promised or late. It could be a sign of how your project will be handled.

• Check with family and friends. If they’re happy with a company, most likely you’ll be too.

• Ask the contractor if they have a physical location.

• Avoid a contractor asking you to get required permits.

• Don’t be intimidated by a contractor pressuring you into making a quick decision.

• Be wary of anyone showing up in an unmarked vehicle or going door-to-door. Do your homework before hiring on the spot.

• Ask if the contractor will be using subcontractors. Don’t hesitate to ask the contractor to meet them and ask for their references too.

• Determine if the company belongs to a professional trade organization and if it is in good standing with them.

• Get a written contract, detailing the work to be completed including verbal promises, warranties and guarantees. Don’t sign anything until all blanks are completed.

• Never pay in full upfront. However, some contractors may ask for a deposit for building materials.

• Consider paying by check or credit card. Avoid someone only accepting cash.

• Make sure the company is licensed, bonded and insured as appropriate.

• Ask questions. Don’t be afraid to inquire about something if you don’t understand.

Remember, you can always get help from BBB, like a list of BBB Accredited contractors and BBB Business Reviews on ones you're considering. Contact your BBB by visiting www.bbb.org or calling (937) 222-5825 or (800) 776-5301.

John North is president of the Dayton Better Business Bureau.

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