HomeBensalem TimesBucks County warns of home improvement contractor fraud

Bucks County warns of home improvement contractor fraud

The following was submitted by Michael Bannon, director, Bucks County Consumer Protection/Weights & Measures

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With the onset of warmer weather and those tax return monies coming in, many consumers are considering sprucing up or making changes to the inside and/or outside of their homes. Consumers should always take the time to make sure they are protecting their hard-earned money and one of the biggest investments we have, our homes.

First, decide what upgrades you would like to make.

Take the time to compare pricing for the materials, making sure you are comparing the same products and getting the most for your money. Calculate exactly what will be needed. This way, even if you are hiring a contractor, you can be assured you are only purchasing/paying for what your job will need.

It is always a good idea to get several reputable and registered contractors to provide written estimates. This can be time consuming, but it allows you to have an idea of what the going rate is for your home improvement.

Keep in mind though that the cheapest quote may not always be the best quote. You certainly do not want to throw away good money after bad by having to hire another contractor to correct the original contractor’s mistakes and/or shortcomings.

Word of mouth recommendations are helpful. Ask family, friends or even neighbors who recently had work done and were happy with the outcome, the name of the contractor they used.

Once you have found a few companies you are considering, including their contact info, you can always call Bucks County Consumer Protection to inquire if there are any complaints on file in their database. A Consumer Protection Investigator can also check to make sure they have a valid Home Improvement Contract Registration on file with the PA Office of Attorney General.

You can find additional and helpful information, including red flags to pay attention to, in the “Hiring a Home Improvement Contractor” booklet on the Bucks County Consumer Protection Department website at BucksCounty.gov/CP.

Click on “Consumer Tips” to get to the brochures section and open the “Hiring a Home Improvement Contractor” booklet. You can also call the office at 215-348-6060 if you would prefer a copy mailed to you.

The information in the booklet provides consumers great information on what to look for and what to be aware of with contractors, including but not limited to the wording required in the contract, such as an estimated start and completion date, a payment schedule not requiring more than a ⅓ deposit as required by law, and any warranty terms.

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