Consumer Alert: Attorney General Todd Rokita warns against home improvement scammers; partners with Indiana Builders Association

As we move into spring, many homeowners across Indiana will begin planning for home improvement and repair projects around the house. Home improvement projects can bring added comfort as well as value to your home. Whether you are making improvements such as replacing windows and doors, adding a home office, or updating a kitchen or bath, it is important to hire a professional to keep projects from becoming a source of frustration and a costly endeavor. Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita is warning Hoosiers to take precautions and do their research before hiring a home improvement contractor.

“Hoosiers can protect themselves by doing their research, asking the right questions, and getting a written contract that defines the full scope of the work and specifications for the job,” said Attorney General Rokita.

Consumers can look to sources like the Indiana Builders Association (IBA) as a part of their research.  The IBA has more than 2,600 members, many of whom perform home improvement services. The IBA also offers homeowner resources to connect consumers to industry professionals for their next project. 

“Our members are invested in making their communities better. Fly-by-night and out of state contractors who come in town after a storm to take advantage of our friends, family and neighbors gives the whole industry a tarnished reputation,” said Paul Schwinghammer, IBA 2022 President. “The IBA is a trusted resource when it comes to making an informed homebuying, remodeling, or general repair decision. Additional info can be found at https://buildindiana.org/homeowners/.”

Consumers should do their homework to prevent the headache of doing business with an unscrupulous contractor. Attorney General Rokita and the Indiana Builders Association offer the following tips to avoid falling victim to a home repair scam:

  • Ask your family, friends, and co-workers for contractors they have used who have done good work.
  • Before signing a contract or making a payment, contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division and the Better Business Bureau for complaint information on contractors you are considering.
  • Get multiple bids from local contractors. Avoid contractors who spontaneously show up at your door offering a “bargain” price for painting, driveway sealing, roof repairs, etc.
  • Get a written contract before making a payment. Indiana law requires home improvement contracts exceeding $150 to be in writing. Before signing the contract, make certain it includes:
    • The price of the job
    • Payment schedule
    • A detailed description of the work and materials
    • Estimated start and completion dates
    • The contractor’s name and address
    • A name and telephone number of the person to contact if problems arise
    • The contractor’s e-mail address
    • The contractor’s signature
  • Never pay for the entire project before the work begins.
  • If you do make a down payment, remaining payments should be tied to completion of specified amounts of work.
  • If the contractor is arranging financing, the contractor should provide you with an installment sale contract disclosing various credit terms like the finance charge and the APR.

Even if preventative measures are taken, problems may still arise. Take time to talk to your contractor to resolve these issues. If problems continue, put your complaints in writing and send them to the contractor. Be sure to keep a copy of these complaints for your records.

The Consumer Protection Division of Attorney General Todd Rokita’s Office works to safeguard the rights of Indiana citizens every day. If you have questions or complaints regarding home improvement scams or other consumer issues, visit www.IndianaConsumer.com.

About Brian Scott

I play on the radio from 7 am -1 pm weekdays on 98.9 FM WYRZ and WYRZ.org. Follow me on twitter @WYRZBrianScott or e-mail me at brian@wyrz.org.

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