All people want to live comfortably in their houses. However, as any homeowner will tell you, maintenance and repairs are always necessary. Furthermore, as we age, the facilities in our existing houses need some improvements.

Carrying some much-needed maintenance and repairs may require significant time and effort. The obvious first step is to choose a reliable contractor to do the work for you. However, if you encounter scammers, they may leave your house worse than it has ever been. Or they can leave it as it is without improving a thing.

But how can you determine whether a contractor is genuine or simply out to grab your money? Before you employ a professional for home repairs, learn about the warning signs of a home improvement scam and how to help yourself avoid taking the bait.

The Baits

Here are some home improvement scam baits to watch out for:

a. A Handyman Knocks on Your Door to Offer Their Services

Scammers who travel the door-to-door circuit usually wait for bad weather to strike to prey on individuals who cannot defend their homes and need fast repairs. They may even examine your roof for free. In fact, experienced contractors in your region will be too preoccupied to knock on doors asking for employment. Before hiring contractors that come to your door to see if they can perform any work for you, you should always ask for business cards or other contact information. 

b. A Contractor Requires a (Large) Down Payment to Start the Job

If your contractor requires a down payment to purchase supplies, that number should be at most one-third of the total cost of the work. A red flag should be raised if a contractor requests a large amount of money in advance, in one lump payment, without presenting proof that they will accomplish the work.

c. A Contractor Offers You a Great Rate on a “Surplus of Material” From a Previous Job

Why is this a scam bait? The first possibility is that the materials in question do not exist. The scam artist may merely want you to write them a check. The second possibility is that the materials might have been stolen or are too cheap and low-quality. If it’s roofing materials, the contractor may be seeking to dump leftover shingles from a prior project. If this is the case, you should decline the offer.

d. A Contractor Says a Decision Must Be Made Quickly 

Contractors that provide time-sensitive discounts to potential customers often use this high-pressure sales tactic. They seek to exploit your vulnerability by pushing you to decide quickly to get what they want. They may expect you to choose them without properly examining their work or collecting estimates from their previous clients. No respectable company would ever force their clients to make a quick decision.

Don’t Take the Bait

If you notice any red flags, take the following easy steps to avoid being scammed. 

1. Hire Only Licensed and Insured Contractors

Inquire about their state license and insurance status to ensure they legally do their job. It would be best if you never accepted someone’s word for anything. Con artists often accomplish their objectives by betting their victims will not properly scrutinize the facts provided. 

If you need help continuing after acquiring a contractor’s license number, you may search for it in your state’s database that verifies general contractor licenses. You may discover the site you need to visit by utilizing a search engine and entering the phrase “verify a general contractor’s license in [state name].” You can also use Nuwber to see if their phone number is registered under their name or if they just use someone’s contacts for scamming people.

2. Make Use of Online Community Forums and Social Media Channels

A town-wide Facebook group and online forums are fantastic ways to check for trustworthy local suggestions on where to hire builders or other home improvement professionals. Users on these networks are fearless about sharing their negative experiences. Customers who are satisfied with the outcomes are more likely to recommend an organization that provides good services to others.

3. Don’t Make a Huge Down Payment

Remember that the first payment should be one-third of the overall cost. If a contractor tries to convince you they need a substantial sum of money upfront for supplies, this is a red flag. If you do transfer your money at the beginning of the process, the scammers will take it and never come back to do the job. You should only make a down payment (not the whole sum, though) when you are sure that you won’t be scammed.

4. Obtain Several Quotes

Before making a final selection, get quotes from at least three contractors. If the costs vary, choosing the lowest is not wise. If one offer is much lower than the others, you should dismiss it. A single contractor can only deliver the same service at such a low cost if they plan to compromise the quality of their job dramatically. If they offer you a low price, it might also be a ruse to get your down payment.

5. Always Demand a Formal Contract

A legally enforceable written contract must be in place after selecting a contractor. The contract should include a detailed description of the work to be done, the cost of all materials, the start and finish dates of the job, and the information about any guarantees that may be offered.

6. Take Your Time

Con artists can take advantage of your rush to make a judgment. They loathe it even more when clients seek counsel from their family and friends. When a contractor applies pressure, it is to prevent you from asking questions and knowing the truth. Spend time learning as much as possible about the contractor to decide whether you feel comfortable having them in your house. 


Scammers are ready to take advantage of homeowners who do not know how to ask the appropriate questions, conduct their homework, and only proceed once everything seems to be going well. If you know how to avoid falling for home improvement scams, you won’t have to worry about being a victim.


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