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Watch out for bogus home improvement contractors

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NOW IS the time to prepare your home for the cold months ahead. At this time of year, with popular home-improvement services ranging from heating to roofing, it’s important to do your research on contracting businesses to avoid falling victim to a scam.
Houston Better Business Bureau is warning homeowners to be aware of common fall home-improvement scams that may be circulating in your neighborhood.
Heating: Before doing business with a contractor, find out what model system you own and its maintenance history. Make sure to check that the contractor’s licensing and insurance meet the state’s requirements.
Don’t forget to ask family members and friends for recommendations and also check out reliable contractors at bbbhouston.org. Be cautious of any heating contractors who solicit work door-to-door or claim they’re offering a special deal for working nearby – that’s always a red flag.
Roofing: Your project requires skilled and qualified roofers, so it’s important to thoroughly research contractors. Be sure to obtain at least three estimates for the job and don’t feel under pressure to hire the one submitting the lowest offer – it will not always be the best.
Make sure the contractor does a thorough inspection rather than a quick estimate from the ground. Be sure to ask for proof of insurance, any required licenses and necessary permits.
Be wary of any contractors who solicit work door-to-door or offer low prices because they have left over materials from a previous job – again, it’s a red flag.
Chimneys: If you often cozy up by your fireplace or wood stove, it’s important to have your chimney cleaned and inspected annually to ensure your safety. A reputable chimney sweep will be able to clean and detect any dangerous problems within the chimney.
Be sure to request several estimates from different chimney sweeps to compare the cost of the job that is needed. Check the credentials and find out through Chimney Safety Institute Of America, or CSIA, whether each contractor is certified and can provide proof.
Ignore chimney businesses that solicit by phone or door to door and that claim they are just “in the neighborhood”. These scammers promise an extremely low price for their service but , once they start working, they will “discover” an urgent repair. They will take your money and either not finish the job or leave your chimney in worse condition than it was before their arrival.
As with any home-improvement service, it’s important to do your research before hiring a contractor. Many scammers claim to be legitimate but aren’t the contractor they claim to be. Although there are scammers around, there are still many reputable home-improvement contractors that will get the job done on time and within budget. To find a reliable contractor that you can trust, check out our BBB’s accredited business directory today at bbbhoustonpages.org.

Jordan Rzad is the senior director responsible for internet marketing at Houston Better Business Bureau.

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