The Door-to-Door Game
In this scam, a door-to-door salesperson offers you a “good deal” because “we just happen to be in the neighbourhood with all our material and equipment.” The contract usually has to be signed right away to get the special price.
Or, a salesperson may offer to “inspect” your furnace, chimney or roof, free of charge. Afterwards, you are told that immediate and expensive repair work must be done. The individual then offers to do the work and has a contract ready for you to sign.
The Disappearing Contractor
Never let a contractor talk you into making a large down payment “to pay for materials.” The contractor may cash in the deposit and never finish – or even begin – the job they were hired to do.
Keep down-payments to a minimum (we recommend 10%) and never pay the full amount of the contract before the work is all done. Remember, legitimate home renovation companies have enough credit to buy the materials they need.
The Paper-Free Deal
Not having the right paperwork – estimates, contracts, professional licences, building permits – is a warning sign that a contractor is not reputable.
A contract is your best protection as a consumer. It’s also a good idea to avoid cash deals. Although they can be appealing, if anything goes wrong with your project, you won’t have proof of payment without a receipt.
Remember, reputable companies comply with the law. A professional licence shows that a contractor is qualified to do the work you’re hiring him or her to do – like plumbing or electrical. Building permits allow your municipality to make sure that any work you have planned meets the Building Code standards and by-laws.