INDIANAPOLIS – As Spring starts and people look at home improvement projects, Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita is warning people about scammers as he kicks off National Consumer Protection Week.
Whether you are making improvements such as replacing windows and doors, adding a home office, or updating a kitchen or bath, it is important to hire a professional to keep projects from becoming a source of frustration and a costly endeavor. Rokita is warning Hoosiers to take precautions and do their research before hiring a home improvement contractor.
“Hoosiers can protect themselves by doing their research, asking the right questions, and getting a written contract that defines the full scope of the work and specifications for the job,” said Rokita.
Consumers can look to sources like the Indiana Builders Association (IBA) as a part of their research. The IBA has more than 2,600 members, many of whom perform home improvement services. The IBA also offers homeowner resources to connect consumers to industry professionals for their next project.
“Our members are invested in making their communities better. Fly-by-night and out of state contractors who come in town after a storm to take advantage of our friends, family and neighbors gives the whole industry a tarnished reputation,” said Paul Schwinghammer, IBA 2022 President.
Consumers should do their homework to prevent the headache of doing business with an unscrupulous contractor. Rokita and the Indiana Builders Association offer the following tips to avoid falling victim to a home repair scam:
- Ask your family, friends, and co-workers for contractors they have used who have done good work.
- Before signing a contract or making a payment, contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division and the Better Business Bureau for complaint information on contractors you are considering.
- Get multiple bids from local contractors. Avoid contractors who spontaneously show up at your door offering a “bargain” price for painting, driveway sealing, roof repairs, etc.
- Get a written contract before making a payment. Indiana law requires home improvement contracts exceeding $150 to be in writing. Before signing the contract, make certain it includes:
o The price of the job
o Payment schedule
o A detailed description of the work and materials
o Estimated start and completion dates
o The contractor’s name and address
o A name and telephone number of the person to contact if problems arise
o The contractor’s e-mail address
o The contractor’s signature
- Never pay for the entire project before the work begins.
- If you do make a down payment, remaining payments should be tied to completion of specified amounts of work.
- If the contractor is arranging financing, the contractor should provide you with an installment sale contract disclosing various credit terms like the finance charge and the APR.
Even if preventative measures are taken, problems may still arise. Take time to talk to your contractor to resolve these issues. If problems continue, put your complaints in writing and send them to the contractor. Be sure to keep a copy of these complaints for your records.