The Nuts and Bolts: July 10, 2013

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A little DIY, FYI…

A Warning Against Home Improvement Fraud

With home improvement season in full swing, many are excited to get started on fixing up the home or installing that new kitchen. Unfortunately, along with more home improvement activity comes more scams. It’s important to know the signs of a home improvement scam artist to save yourself time and money.

The National Center for the Prevention of Home Improvement Fraud (NCPHIF) has released a list of do’s and don’ts for home owners looking for a contractor this summer.

According to the NCPHIF, a key “Do’ is to look for licensed contractors. Do not be misled by a business license, these are merely for tax purposes and do not represent the qualifications of the contractor. While not all projects require a state professional license, it is a great assurance that your project is in the hands of a professional that is on record and being held accountable for their work. Qualified contractors carry a “pocket card” for proof, be sure to check the license is valid and current.

Be sure to get the contractor’s complete information. For the NCPHIF, this includes “full name and complete business name, physical office address (not a PO Box), business phone, cell phone number, truck license plate state and number.” Also, be sure to call and confirm this information is correct.

The NCPHIF also suggests liability insurance. “Make sure the contractor has proof of general liability insurance and workers compensation coverage (when required by the State). Verify the coverage is sufficient and that the policy is valid and will not expire during the project. You should always contact your insurance agent for information and advice.”

Do not use a contractor who:

  1. Is going door to door or who is calling because they are “in the neighborhood.” Often they are not “in the neighborhood.” Selecting a contractor on the basis of them coming to your door or via phone call is always a questionable selection method. Would you pick a doctor for surgery who comes to your door?
  2. Wants to “inspect” your property when you are not home. Take photos before, during and after an “inspection.” Some contractors have been known to cause damage intentionally during an inspection.
  3. Asks you to get any required building permits. The party pulling a building permit is responsible, among other things, to assure code compliance.
  4. Offers you a discount because they have “leftover materials.” This may be a signal that another consumer paid for the materials and the contractor failed to leave the materials or give proper credit, or that the materials may be stolen. You may find that you are the next one to be subjected to unethical practices.
  5. Only accepts cash. Please do not pay cash. If you do pay cash, be sure to get a clear written receipt.
  6. Claims you will get a great rate because you project will be a “demonstration.”
  7. Offers exceptionally long guarantees or warranties.
  8. Asks you to pay for the entire job up front.
  9. Tries to scare you into repairs claiming they are urgent.
  10. Asks you to “deed” or “transfer title” to your property or sign a promissory note secured by your home.

“Home Doctors” Teams up with Best Bath

House Doctors, a home improvement franchise, recently announced its partnership with Best Bath as a preferred supplier of shower surrounds and bathtubs. Based on a Zillow Digs survey showing 60% of homeowners are planning home improvement projects this summer with the bathrooms being one of the most popular rooms to update, Home Doctors shifted focus from shower installations to baths.

Jim Hunter, President of House Doctors, said, "Gone are the days of the flowery colorful shower curtains, in are the open bright tiled spaces and glass shower surrounds. Tastes in bathrooms have changed over the years. Today people want bright airy bathrooms with cool glass fronted showers. Shower curtains are definitely not as popular as they were a few years ago. That's why bringing Best Bath on as a preferred vendor will be great for both companies and more importantly for our customers. It gives Best Bath access to our franchise network and our franchisees can now offer our customers some of the most innovative and best constructed bathing solutions on the market today."

Hunter continued, "The bathroom has always been a popular room to upgrade over the years as tastes change. On line resources like Zillow Digs can now give companies like ours the opportunity to keep up to date with the most popular trends that are happening with homeowners today."

Learn more at