Clouds aren’t the only things that roll in with severe summer weather. Contractors who attempt to cash in during the aftermath of a storm by promising low prices for home repairs and delivering substandard or incomplete work may also arrive on the scene.

Help protect yourself, your money and your home from repair rip-offs by learning to spot these red flags:

Some Warning Signs of a Scam

Be alert if contractors:

  • Offer unsolicited services for such projects as driveway sealing, chimney rebuilds and roof repair – projects that are commonly “pitched” to homeowners.
  • Quote a reduced price on the work because of “materials left over from a job down the street.”
  • Offer a discount for using your home as a “demonstration.”
  • Employ pushy door-to-door sales tactics or advertise through flyers or newspapers.
  • Appear to be from out of town or working out of a pickup truck.
  • Demand immediate payment in full.
  • Accept cash only.
  • Provide no written contract.
  • Are not willing to produce references.
  • Fail to provide proof of insurance and proper licensing.
  • Suggest financing or recommend financing through someone they know.
  • Ask you to secure any required permits.
  • Promise insurance compensation for their repairs.

Ways to Help Protect Yourself

These tips can help you hire a reputable contractor:

  • Get multiple quotes from local established businesses.
  • Take time to make your decision.
  • Do your research. Look into professional affiliations and Better Business Bureau reports, and follow up on references from previous clients.
  • Check for up-to-date licenses, and verify insurance protection.
  • Insist on written estimates and a written contract that includes contact information, important dates and a breakdown of costs. According to Federal Trade Commission rulings, you may be able to cancel a contract of more than $25 within three business days of signing it at your home or in a seller’s temporary business location.

The National Association of Home Builders offers additional tips for hiring a dependable professional contractor on its site. For storm repair tips, visit the Better Business Bureau website. And before you hire any contractor for storm-related repairs, always contact your insurance agent, to make sure home repairs will be covered.

About Jeffrey Wyatt