Home Improvements – Important Things to Know and Ask
As you plan your home improvements, it is important that you protect yourself as well as your investment. Please use this tip sheet to help you ask the right questions to do just that and to minimize the chance of any possible misunderstandings that may occur.
These may be warning signs of a potential scam:
- Door-to-door salespersons with no local connections that offer to do home improvements for substantially less than the market price.
- A company that lists only a telephone number or a post-office box number to contact, particularly if it is an out-of-state company.
- Contractors that fail to provide customers references when requested.
- Do not admit anyone into your home unless he or she can present you with identification establishing his or her business status. When in doubt, do not hesitate to call the worker’s employer to verify his or her identity.
- Contractors demanding cash payments for a job or who ask you to make a check payable to a person other than the company name.
- Offers from a contractor to drive you to the bank to withdraw funds to pay for the work.
- Get all estimates in writing.
- Do not be induced into signing a contract by high-pressure sales tactics.
- Never sign a contract with blank spaces or one you don’t fully understand.
- Remember, you have three business days from the time you sign your contract to cancel any contract if the sale is made at your home. The contractor cannot deprive you of this right by initiating work, selling your contract to a lender, or any other tactic.
- Determine whether or not the contractor will guarantee his or her work and products.
- Determine whether or not the contractor has the proper insurance by requesting a certificate of insurance.
- To protect your property, request a final waiver of lien when all work has been completed. Suppliers and subcontractors have a right to file a lien against your property if the general contractor fails to pay them.
BASIC NECESSITIES IN A CONTRACT
- Contractor’s full name, address, and a phone number on the contract.
- Description of the work to be performed.
- Total cost of the work to be performed.
- Schedule and method of payment, including down payment, subsequent payments, and final payment.
- Homeowner should receive a copy of the signed contract and keep it in a safe place for reference as needed.
- Make sure contractor is supplying windows that are NFRC rated and that contractor is EPA certified.