Use caution before accepting bids to avoid scams

As we enter spring, homeowners may be looking for new ways to spruce up their properties. Better Business Bureau Northwest & Pacific has seen an uptick in customers searching for general contractors to help get the work done.

BBB has received more than 72,000 inquiries to general contractors since January — that’s up nearly 4,000 from last year. There were more than 2,700 searches in Idaho and western Wyoming. Unfortunately, scammers are hoping to capitalize on this interest by finding ways to con consumers and contractors out of money.

In 2017, there were nearly 350 home improvement scams reported to BBB Scam Tracker across the U.S., resulting in more than $600,000 lost. While these scams typically targeted homeowners, contractors who hire subcontractors to help with their work can be just as vulnerable.

The Better Business Bureau suggests doing the following things to find a trustworthy business to help with your renovations.

First, check out licenses. Be sure to check if the business is properly licensed in your state. It’s also important that any business working on your home is properly insured.

The second is request at least two or three references from the business’s last few jobs. Ask questions about the quality of work, if it was within budget and on time and to the customer’s satisfaction.

Lastly, get multiple estimates. Before accepting an estimate, get at least three bids or quotes in writing. Don’t feel pressured to go with the lowest bid, as it might reflect the quality of materials.

Along with doing your research, there are red flags you should look for when discussing someone working on your home. A building permit is required for most construction and remodeling projects to ensure the work will be done to code. Any reputable contractor will get all necessary permits for the job and won’t try to persuade you to do it yourself.

Be skeptical if a contractor tells you they need a cash payment up front to purchase materials or rent equipment. A down payment may be required, but you shouldn’t have to pay for the entire project in the beginning. Also if you come across a contractor going door-to-door offering their services. Never let someone into your home, instead, ask for their business card and close the door. You can research the company later to see if they are legitimate.

For more information on finding a contractor you can trust, visit

Find a trustworthy local business by searching for contractors with the BBB App at

Jeremy Johnson is the eastern Idaho marketplace manager for Better Business Bureau, serving the Northwest and Pacific. Contact her at by

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Source: Business