Finding a contractor for home improvement projects

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) — June is National Homeownership Month, and summer is a great time for some home improvement projects.

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) has tips on how to confidently find the right contractor to make your house a home.

Karen Reeves, president and CEO of the BBB of North Alabama, said it’s important to keep scams in mind when finding a contractor.

According to the BBB Scam Tracker Risk Report for 2023, home improvement scams were the riskiest for people who are 55 and older.

Reeves said it’s important to be wary of people who go door-to-door offering services.

While not all of them are scammers, the BBB said home improvement scams often start with an unsolicited offer like that or an ad posted on social media.

Reeves recommends doing your “homework” by evaluating any contractor and checking their history.

The BBB reports that scammers will impersonate well-known companies to convince homeowners to give them the initial payment, and will then disappear.

According to Reeves, one rule of thumb when searching for a contractor for a project is to receive at least three quotes from different contractors.

Reeves said that can help ensure you aren’t being taken advantage of and that you are not paying too much for services.

Another tip: never pay the total project cost upfront, even if they’re offering a big discount for doing so.

The BBB recommends that you stagger payments throughout the project, so you can periodically check the work as it’s done to make sure you are happy before you pay them more.

Reeves said most deposits should range between 10% and 30% of the total project cost.

“Homeowners should avoid contractors that ask for more than half of the total project cost upfront,” the BBB recommends.

Another thing to keep in mind is licensing requirements.

Depending on what work you’re having done, state or local regulatory agencies require different licensing.

Industries that typically require licenses include electricians, HVAC, plumbers and pesticide applicators.

Reeves suggests that homeowners double-check that the contractor has the correct, valid license.

A homeowner could be held liable for work that does not comply with building codes or leads to property damage if the work was completed by an unlicensed contractor.

For more tips, including what to do if you receive an offer that seems “too good to be true,” click here.

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