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March 18, 2013

The Law and Your Home

Remodeling and the Law

What's the best way to guard against swindlers?

Despite all the statutes, if you have to rely on the law to get your money back from a shoddy contractor, you will have to wait a long time. Take matters into your own hands by carefully checking the reputation of any contractor ahead of time. Be wary of contractors who:

  • Claim to work for a government agency. Check it out.
  • Offer free gifts. Ask the following questions: What exactly are the gifts? When will you receive them? Can you get a price reduction instead?
  • Engage in door-to-door sales or try to get your business by telephone solicitations. Be especially wary if the sales pitch demands an immediate decision to take advantage of prices that won't be available tomorrow. Most reputable contractors don't engage in such tactics.
  • Offer an unsolicited free inspection of your furnace or basement. Rip-off artists use this ruse to get into a home and either fake a problem or damage a sound furnace and good pipes.
  • Claim your house is dangerous and needs immediate repair unless you already know it does. Have a company name, address, and telephone number and other credentials that can't be verified. Fly-by-night operators often use a mail drop and an answering service while hunting for victims.
  • Promise a lower price for allowing your home to be used as a model or to advertise their work. (Has the price really been lowered? What does the "use of your home" entail?)
  • Engage in bait-and-switch tactics. After luring you with an ad that offers an unbeatable deal on a job, these contractors tell you the materials aren't available for that job but they can give you a bargain on another, more expensive, job.
  • Leave delivery and installation costs out of their estimates.
  • Offer to give you a rebate or referral fee if any of your friends use the same contractor.
  • Insist on starting work before you sign a contract.

>>Which federal laws are applicable to remodeling projects?
>>What protection do I have once I sign a contract?
>>What kind of state and local laws apply to contractors?
>>What's the best way to guard against swindlers?
>>How do I find a reputable contractor?
>>Should I have a written contract with the contractor?
>>What should the contract include?
>>What should I watch out for when the job begins?
>>What can I do if the contractor violates the contract?

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