Photo of a Kitchen

When most people want to make home improvements, they usually remodel the kitchen. This room can add the most value to your home, and even if you’re not ready to sell, it can greatly improve your life when it is brought up to date.

While you may be able to handle painting the walls on your own, a kitchen remodel is a huge undertaking that will require the help of a contractor. Beware of unscrupulous contractors who will try to take advantage of you through various contractor scams.

A few bad apples spoil the reputation of the bunch because there is such a thing as a reputable contractor. You just need to know what to look for to spot a good contractor vs. an unscrupulous contractor.

Knowing what to look for when you are trying to find a reliable contractor will help. First, take a look at the most common home improvement scams to help you spot them at the first warning sign.

They Offer to Help Finance the Job

You should be wary of scam artists when a contractor says they can arrange financing through a lender and presents you with papers. It may seem like he’s trying to simplify things for you and has your best interests at heart, but don’t sign anything before thoroughly checking it out.

You may be roped into signing a home equity loan with a high-interest rate and fees. With this contractor scam, they are likely getting a kickback from the lender. If a contract has blank spaces that need to be filled in after you sign the papers, do not ink your name.

Not all contractors are trying to scam you with financing, but you should read every part of the document first and make sure you understand all the terms before agreeing to them.

They Ask For Advance Payment

Another one of the most popular scams is when a contractor tells you they’ll need the money up front. In this contractor scam, they will tell you they must order materials to start the job. To do so, they’ll ask for 50% of the project price in advance, and that they only accept cash.

This is typical for unlicensed contractors who will either disappear or do subpar work. In the latter situation, he knows you can’t fire him because you’ve already paid him.

Homeowners should know that a large down payment is a major red flag. That’s not to say that all down payments are contractor scams. The most you should ever pay for a reasonable down payment on your kitchen remodel is about 10% to 15% in an initial installment. From there, you should pay in the same increments as agreed upon until the job is complete.

They Tell You to Trust Their Word

One home improvement scam you should always watch for is when a contractor tells you they will include something via a verbal agreement. Always protect yourself by making sure all specifications you discuss, including the suggestions made by the contractor to add a little something extra, are detailed completely in your contract.

If you don’t, you could end up with a contractor job that isn’t what you had discussed. Additionally, he’ll tell you that since he didn’t include those features in his price, you’ll have to either do without them or pay him more.

A quality contractor’s business reputation is on the line, so a contract will protect you both. On a trustworthy contractor’s contract, you’ll see a detailed schedule of the work, payment terms, and procedure for any changes. You’ll know you’ve found a good one when they are happy to answer all your questions and confirm what’s in the contract. You can also have a lawyer review the paperwork to ensure you choose the best person for the job.

They Put You in Charge of the Permit

You are required to get a building permit for any construction project on your home. Building officials can then visit to confirm the work is up to proper safety codes. The homeowner’s permit should be pulled by the contractor.

In this contractor scam, the contractor will tell you that you need to apply for the required building permits. Don’t fall for it because taking out your own building permit for a contractor job means lying to the authorities about who is performing the work. You’ll also be responsible for monitoring inspections.

Photo of Well Furnished Kitchen

Sudden and Unforeseen Problems

When a contractor calls to tell you that the price you agreed on has gone up after they have started working, you are falling into one of the biggest home renovation scams. Problems do arise even with honest contractors, but they will provide a procedure for addressing change orders.

Limited Time Offers

One of the surest signs of contractor fraud is the use of high-pressure sales tactics to force you to make an immediate decision. When you’re investing in a kitchen remodel, it’s a huge undertaking and a big decision. An insured and trustworthy contractor will want you to take time to think it over and compare prices, experience, and portfolios.

How Can Home Improvement Fraud Be Prevented?

You may want your kitchen remodeled, but before you choose from contractors in Bothell, it is a wise idea to take a few steps to prevent becoming a victim of fraud.

For starters, always have a written contract before the work begins. Make sure that the contract is crystal clear in every detail with the full scope of work. Additionally, they should have their contractor’s license and be an insured contractor.

Get references before signing the contract and check every one of them. Check with the Better Business Bureau, the Department of Consumer Protection, and the National Association of the Remodeling Institute (NARI) to make sure they have the proper licenses needed to legally do the job. 

If you want to have full confidence in a contractor you can trust, Home Care Contractors is Bothell’s kitchen remodel contractor of choice. You can view our home remodeling portfolio and then contact our Seattle area general contractors to ask questions and discuss your project in detail. 

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