Report: #5843

Complaint Review: Builders & Contractors

  • Submitted: Sun, July 22, 2001
  • Updated: Sun, July 22, 2001
  • Reported By: Tempe Arizona
  • Builders & Contractors

    U.S.A. Home Repair Scams. Warning Signs: *EDitor's Tips to Avoid Scams

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Home Repair Scams

Sooner or later every home needs repairs or improvements. Although some home improvement companies do good work, some do not. Dishonest companies only want to take your money, not repair your home. Many of these companies target older and low-income people. A home improvement scam could start with a telephone call or someone knocking at your door offering to "help" you with home repairs.

Warning Signs:
Warning signs you should watch for include when a salesperson:

Contacts you first (comes to your home uninvited or contacts you by telephone);

Tells you that you need to make repairs immediately;

Talks too fast (to confuse you) and pressures you to sign papers today;

Tells you that they are doing work in your neighborhood and claims they have "extra materials" left from another job;

Offers to use your home as a "display home" or offers a discounted price or "discounts" for referrals, but only if you buy today!

Tells you something that sounds too good (or bad) to be true. (It probably is not true!)

If you are a low-income resident, in most Counties, you may be eligible for minor home repairs or weatherization assistance. For a listing of agencies that provide assistance, contact your local city government.

Tips to Avoid Scams. Do your homework and be prepared
Before you contact a home improvement company, decide first what you want to have done and how much you can afford to spend. Don't let the company decide for you.

Talk to friends and family to get names of reputable contractors they have used.

If you need financing to pay for home repairs, shop around first. The financing offered by a contractor may be expensive, so check with banks, credit unions, etc., to see if you can find a better deal. Be wary of credit life insurance and credit disability insurance, as these can be very expensive and are rarely needed.

If you cannot afford to pay for home improvements in cash, many honest (and dishonest) home improvement companies will offer to finance the cost for you. Many times they want to take a mortgage (called a "deed of trust") on your home. A deed of trust means that if you do not make all of your payments, you could lose your home! So think twice before signing a deed of trust or any other contract -- ask yourself whether you are willing to risk losing your home if you get behind in your payments.

Get at least two estimates:
Many companies give free inspections and written estimates -- get two or three before choosing a contractor. Remember that the lowest price is not always the best deal. Compare costs, materials, and methods suggested by different companies to decide what materials and methods are best for your home.

Check out the contractor:

Is the company reputable? How long has it been in business?
Ask for references and then check them out! Make sure the company is licensed, bonded, and insured. Ask to see its certificate of insurance. Contact this web site, the Better Business Bureau and Attorney General to check on complaints.

Ask if there is a guarantee or warranty. If so, make sure it is in writing. If the company won't put its promises in writing, look for another company which will.

Understand the contract:
Do not sign the contract until you read it carefully. If the salesperson pressures you to sign before you read and understand all of the contract - don't sign it! Never rely on the salesperson to read or explain the contract to you. Ask a trusted friend or lawyer to assist you.

Do not let someone talk you into buying something you don't need -- or can't afford.

Do not pay for repairs in advance.
Pay the final payment only after the work is complete.

Do not sign a contract unless:
It includes a detailed description of the work to be done and specifies exactly what materials will be used and their quality;
All of the contractor's promises are in writing;
The contract includes the starting date and estimated completion date; and The contract is fair and the terms (including the price, finance charges and payments) are what you agreed on. If not, do not sign it!

Be sure to get a copy of everything you sign when you sign it.
Inspect the work constantly!

Make sure that the contractor has a City permit to do the work. Inspect all of the work very carefully to make sure it was done properly. If you have any doubts or questions, do NOT make your final payment or sign a "completion certificate" until the work is properly finished.

What You Can Do If You Are the Victim of a Scam?

Most states have laws that allow you to sue if you have been cheated by false or unfair sales practices. You may be able to file a lawsuit to cancel the sale and also sue for your money damages, your attorney's fees, and punitive damages. Under federal law, if your home is used as security for a loan, you may have the right to cancel (in writing) the loan or contract within three days of signing the contract.

If you think you have been the victim of a scam, you should:Consult a lawyer immediately. There are time deadlines to cancel sales and pursue legal claims.

Contact your county prosecuting attorney and the Attorney General's Office.
Contact us at and file a complaint. has ways of dealing with these complaints. ways are not convectional, but, they are perfectly legal, quicker and more cost effective.

The best guarantee against getting ripped off is INFORMATION. So ask plenty of questions, and be slow to sign anything or to part with your money!

This is not intended as specific legal advice. For legal advice, you should consult a lawyer without delay. Then contact us here at

Where to Get Help:
Not that it will do any good in most cases, you should also file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau or ask the BBB for information about a business before doing business with them. Most of the time BBB complaints are hidden from the consumer. Maybe, if a business has many complaints with the local BBB in your area, they will tell you they have an unsatisfactory rating. If so, we strongly recommend you not deal with that company.

Be sure to check with us here at the to see all complaints that were filed. Rip-off Reports never go away. Rip-off Reports can be Rebutted and updated at any time.
Don't let them get away with it.
Make sure they make the Rip-off Report!

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This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 07/22/2001 12:00 AM and is a permanent record located here: The posting time indicated is Arizona local time. Arizona does not observe daylight savings so the post time may be Mountain or Pacific depending on the time of year. Ripoff Report has an exclusive license to this report. It may not be copied without the written permission of Ripoff Report. READ: Foreign websites steal our content

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