Pittsburgh, PA – April 29, 2021 – The Better Business Bureau of Western PA is warning consumers to carefully research home improvement contractors when considering hiring a business to do work on their home or property this spring. Recent complaints received locally by BBB allege consumers hiring businesses to perform work at their home after paying a deposit, but the work is either never performed or never completed. Complaints also involve consumers having issues contacting the business and obtaining refunds.
“As many people begin the process of completing various home improvement projects this spring and summer, be sure to find someone reputable and registered, regardless of the cost of work.” says Caitlin Driscoll, public relations director of the Better Business Bureau of Western PA. “In many instances, consumers think they are getting a great deal, but fail to do their research and end up losing money to companies that do not fulfill their obligations.”
In addition to checking with BBB before signing a contract, BBB advises consumers to do the following when searching for a home improvement contractor:
- Verify registration. The Home Improvement Consumer Protection Act requires all contractors, who perform at least $5,000 worth of home improvements per year, register with the Bureau of Consumer Protection of the Pennsylvania Attorney General. To find out whether a contractor is registered with the Office of the Attorney General call 888-520-6680 or visit attorneygeneral.gov.
- Research contractors. Search local contractors for free on BBB.org and to find a trusted home pro near you. Discover basic company information, a company’s BBB rating (ranging from A+ to F), three-year complaint history, customer reviews and more. Ask friends and neighbors for referrals.
- Cost compare. Before making a financial commitment, solicit at least three bids from prospective contractors based on the same building specifications, materials, labor and time needed to complete the project. Remember that the contractor with the lowest bid may not be the best suited for the job.
- Confirm insurance. Request proof that the company has up-to-date insurance covering workers’ compensation, property damage and personal liability. Ask for a current copy of the insurance certificate for your records.
- Don’t pay in full. Never pay for an entire job in advance. The law states for a contract of more than $5,000, a contractor cannot accept a deposit in excess of 1/3 of the contract price, or 1/3 of the contract price plus the cost of special order materials. Whenever possible, pay by credit card and request receipts.
- Understand your contract. Before signing a contract, read over it in its entirety. Do not sign if there are any blank lines or if there are any statements you don’t entirely understand. The law requires that a copy of the contract be given to you at the time of signing, so be sure to request one if you are not initially provided with it.
- Recognize red flags. Avoid contractors who approach you at your home claiming to have material leftover from a previous job and they can offer you a great deal. Be cautious of contractors who try to pressure you into signing a contract immediately or claim that no contract is needed.
ABOUT BBB: For more than 100 years, the Better Business Bureau has been helping people find businesses, brands and charities they can trust. In 2020, people turned to BBB more than 220 million times for BBB Business Profiles on 6.2 million businesses and Charity Reports on 11,000 charities, all available for free at BBB.org. The International Association of Better Business Bureaus is the umbrella organization for the local, independent BBBs in the United States, Canada and Mexico. BBB Serving Western Pennsylvania was founded in 1931 and serves the 28 counties of Western Pennsylvania.