According to the Arkansas Attorney General, every year, home improvement scams are among the top 10 consumer issues in Arkansas. When contemplating improvements to your home, here are some things to consider:
Select a Contractor
Any contractor building, repairing or doing improvements to a home costing more than $2,000 is required to be bonded and licensed by the Arkansas Contractors Licensing Board. Contact the board at ACLB.Arkansas.gov or (501) 372-4661 to verify a contractor’s license, the date it was issued and whether any complaints have been filed against that contractor. Ask for recommendations from people you trust.
If you've run into a contractor who has done any of the following, you already know that the contractor is a potential rip-off artist:
- Just happens to have materials left over from a previous job
- Only accepts cash payments
- Asks you to get any required building permits
- Does not list a business number in the local telephone directory
- Tells you that your job will be a "demonstration" to show potential new customers
- Pressures you for an immediate decision
- Offers exceptionally long guarantees
- Asks you to pay for the entire job upfront
- Suggests that you borrow money from a lender that the contractor knows
Insist on a Written Contract!
Have a written and signed contract before any work begins on your home or property. Specifically, make sure the following information is contained in the contract:
- Your name.
- The name, address and telephone number of the builder or contractor.
- A complete and detailed description of the work to be done and the materials to be used, including the grade, quality and quantity.
- A provision requiring your written approval before any price increases are implemented or before the scope of work is expanded.
- A statement that explains the builder’s or contractor’s guarantee on the work to be performed.
- A starting date and, more importantly, a completion date.
- A complete description of the cost of the job, full disclosure of the payment terms and the financing costs, if any.
- Your signature and the contractor’s signature.
Use Caution in Hiring:
Think twice before hiring out-of-town or unknown contractors, especially those offering half-off labor or any other the other “red flags” mentioned above.
Question contractors who use terms like “special introductory offer,” “limited-time offer,” “buy one get one,” or those who offer discounts to use your house as a “model home.”
Do not fall for high-pressure tactics from contractors who want to discuss the price of the job later.
Beware of those demanding a full payment before work is finished.
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