Avoid Home Improvement Scams 

LENOIR, NC (July 11, 2023) — Whether it’s adding a swimming pool, remodeling a kitchen, or building a house, home improvement scammers are always looking for ways to take advantage of consumers. 

In 2022. the NC Attorney General’s Office received 957 complaints about home improvement scams, ranking sixth on NC Attorney General Josh Stein’s Top 10 consumer complaints. 

The NC Licensing Board for General Contractors offers these important tips to protect consumers from substantial financial loss and emotional stress: 

  • Plan the project in detail and who will be needed to complete the project. No two projects are the same and some may require a specially licensed contractor. For information about permits required, contact Caldwell County Building Inspections at 828-426-8585 or online at caldwellcountync.info/buildinginspections.
  • Get several estimates. When comparing estimates from different contractors, look at the cost, quantity, and quality of materials in each estimate. Be sure the estimate includes the total price, materials to be used, a timetable for payments and the expected time of completion.
  • Verify the contractor’s license. In North Carolina, a general contractor must be licensed if the contract is valued at $30,000 or more. Visit portal.nclbgc.org/Public/Search to verify contractor license.
  • Check at least three references. Contact each reference and ask if they were satisfied with the contractor’s work and if the contractor kept to the schedule and contract terms.
  • Require a written contract. The contract should be a detailed description of the work to be done, the material to be used and the equipment to be installed. Be sure there is a schedule of payments and a timeline for when the work will be completed.
  • Do not make a large down payment. The down payment for work to begin should be minimal. Beware of contractors asking for a large down payment so that they can purchase the materials to begin your project.
  • Make payments as work is completed. Set up a payment schedule that follows the work as it is being completed. Never pay for something that has not been completed. Do not pay for anything in cash.
  • Monitor the job in progress. Regularly check on the progress of the work. Permits should be displayed by the contractor while the work is being done.
  • Do not make the final payment until the job is satisfactorily completed. Verify that all liens have been released.
  • Keep all paperwork related to the job. Be sure to keep a record of all documents that pertain to the project. This includes the contract, any written changes, all bills and invoices, receipts of payments and all correspondence with your contractor as well as photos of the job in progress.

To report any scam, call Attorney General Josh Stein’s consumer hotline toll free within North Carolina at 1-877-5-NO-SCAM or (919) 716-6000 or file a complaint at ncdoj.gov/file-a-complaint/.

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