INDIANAPOLIS — As spring begins and people consider home improvement projects, Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita is warning people about scammers as he kicks off National Consumer Protection Week .
Whether you’re making improvements like replacing windows and doors, adding a home office, or updating a kitchen or bathroom, it’s important to hire a professional to prevent projects from becoming a source of frustration and an expensive undertaking. Rokita warns Hoosiers to take precautions and do their research before hiring a home improvement contractor.
“Hoosiers can protect themselves by doing their research, asking the right questions, and getting a written contract that outlines the full scope of work and job specifications,” Rokita said.
Consumers can turn to sources like the Indiana Builders Association (IBA) as part of their research. The IBA has over 2,600 members, many of whom perform home improvement services. The IBA also offers resources for owners to connect consumers with industry professionals for their next project.
“Our members are invested in improving their communities. Overnight, out-of-state contractors who come to town after a storm to take advantage of our friends, family and neighbors are tarnishing the reputation of the entire industry,” said Paul Schwinghammer, President of the IBA 2022.
Consumers should do their homework to avoid the headache of doing business with an unscrupulous contractor. Rokita and the Indiana Builders Association offer the following tips to avoid falling victim to a home repair scam:
- Ask your family, friends and co-workers which contractors they have used that have done a good job.
- Before signing a contract or making a payment, contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division and the Better Business Bureau for information about complaints about contractors you are considering.
- Get several offers from local contractors. Avoid contractors who spontaneously show up at your door by offering you a “bargain” price for painting, sealing the driveway, repairing the roof, etc.
- Get a written contract before making a payment. Indiana law requires that home improvement contracts over $150 be in writing. Before signing the contract, make sure it includes:
oh The price of labor
oh Payment schedule
oh A detailed description of the work and materials
oh Estimated start and end dates
oh The name and address of the contractor
oh The name and telephone number of the person to contact in the event of a problem
oh Contractor’s email address
oh Contractor’s signature
- Never pay for the entire project before the work begins.
- If you make a down payment, the remaining payments must be tied to the completion of the specified work.
- If the contractor arranges financing, the contractor must provide you with an installment sale agreement disclosing various credit terms like finance charges and APR.
Even if preventive measures are taken, problems can still occur. Take the time to talk to your contractor to resolve these issues. If problems persist, put your complaints in writing and send them to the contractor. Be sure to keep a copy of these complaints for your records.