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Defend yourself against contractor scams

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Hiring a house remodeling contractor should be a transaction grounded by a firm foundation of confidence. Come to the table prepared with these strategies for staying away from the more frequent contractor scams.

Four personal references should be listed

Typically, a private contractor will have three references when showing up for a conference. Asking for one more could be beneficial. A fourth reference should be from somebody who had a problem with the work. They will have called the contractor back to fix the problem. This is the best way to figure out how a contractor really works. It will help you know the contractor's values.

Sometimes you need a backup

Typically, contractors are honest with you. It is still better to be safe than sorry. If you live alone, have a friend on the premises when you meet with the contractor so that it appears that somebody else live there. Your friend will eventually leave and so will the contractor. Lock the doors and windows after they leave.

The contractor might be on the Better Business Bureau for you

While it may be frequent sense to check a contractor's record with your local chapter of the Better Business Bureau, not everyone goes the extra mile. Check them out with BBBs in surrounding states, particularly if you seek home remodeling following a natural disaster.

Verify permit and bonded status

Before any contractor is hired, you need to verify the contractor's license, operating permits and bonds. FEMA devastation inspector Lanard Cullins told Bankrate that customers should verify a contractor's documents through the secretary of state's office in any state in which they're licensed. Checking with local authorities to ensure they have complied with the law is also advisable.

Make sure you talk to an insurance agent in the property remodeling business to discover out what you need for a contractor bond, states Phae Howard. Howard is from the National Center for the Prevention of Home Improvement Fraud currently.

Making sure insurance is there

Make sure you know how your contractor's insurance is working before you employ a contractor. Make sure your contractor won't have any problems with stolen equipment.

Sometimes contractors will ask for your insurance information and get a hold of them for you. Cullins states this is a scam. Never give individual insurance information or proceeds to any contractor.

Don't purchase your own supplies

Hitting you up piecemeal for supplies (or supply money) at regular intervals is a sign that your contractor is unprofessional. Sometimes you'll have to buy. Don't give the contractor money directly then. Meet them at the supply store, purchase what's needed and make sure the materials will be delivered to the site the day they're needed.

Getting the place inspected

Make sure an inspector comes to check the project being done. Do this after the permits have been pulled by the contractor. Using an inspector before and after a project is also a good safeguard.

Play it safe with contracts

Unless you are sure about the details, including anything in the project, do not sign the contract with a contractor. Before you sign the contract, have it reviewed by a lawyer.

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