Our home is our castle, and we want to make sure it’s well maintained. But home improvement can be expensive, prices vary widely depending on the contractor we use, and we want to make sure we get the best deals. However, we also need to ensure we work with reliable, trustworthy people. Unfortunately, property scams can also come in the shape of home improvement fraud. There are a lot of fraudsters or just bad contractors offering their services, and some of them will try to lure you into hiring them with some dubious tactics.
The “too good to be true” offer
Probably the most widespread and successful home improvement scam is the one which starts with an ad or a flyer advertising a service at a cut throat price, such as a boiler service for £9. That’s a tempting offer which will attract consumers. Once the technician arrives, he will explain to the homeowner that their boiler is in very poor condition, way worse than average, and quotes them a different price – one that’s significantly above the £9 initially quoted.
The “using leftovers” offer
A construction contractor rings your door bell and says he has just completed a job in your area, and that he truck of leftover tiles, asphalt, paint or whatever else (it is most common with roofs and driveways). Rather than take a loss on the supplies, he will offer to repave, for instance, the driveway or the garage at a very low price. His quote will be way below market price.
Don’t fall for this great deal. Once the contractor starts working, he will claim to have discovered an issue that will significantly raise the price of the job. If you object, the fraudster may threaten to walk away from the job, leaving you with a half-finished driveway. Another scenario is when he accepts an upfront payment and disappears.
The “home improvement loan” offer
Contractors may offer you to help you finance the work by offering you a home improvement loan, for which they may receive a kickback from the lender. Or worse, there might not be any lender involved, which would mean the contractor would lend you money illegally, most likely at extortionate rates. Never borrow money via a contractor, go to your bank instead or look out for how improvement loans on trusted comparison sites such as Moneysupermarket or USwitch.
The “using your home as show home” offer
Another way to lure you into hiring a dubious contractor will be by offering you to use your home as a show home and demonstration object for the contractor’s work, in return for a discounted price. In some cases, trustworthy contractors might do so as well after having completed the job, but this should not be part of the negotiation process before the job is completed.
In summary, it’s is the same as with fake listings: if the deal seems too good to be true, it probably is – and it is key to find a technician you can trust and who comes recommended by others.