Avoid a Scam: Tips for hiring a contractor

Tips for hiring a contractor

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Whether it’s repairs or upgrades, you may be considering hiring a contractor to do some work around your house.

Problems with contractors are one of the top five complaints the South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs gets every year.

Before you allow a contractor to start ripping up stuff in your house, get the project started on the right foot by making sure the company is reputable.

Your first step, check to see if the company is registered with the South Carolina Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation.

“On their website, they have a very easy tool called a Licensee Lookup that you can put the business name in and the person’s name in and see if they have the appropriate licenses needed,” said Carri Grube Lybarker who is the administrator for the South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs.

Once you know the contractor is licensed, Lybarker says you want to check out the company’s track record.

For that, you can begin with her agency’s website.

“See if they have complaints and how they dealt with those complaints, what types of complaints they were," Lybarker said."Do that online search again, because you can get some additional information through a simple internet search about whether or not a business acts in a reputable manner.”

And there are two clear signs that should make you think twice about dealing with a particular contractor.

“A red flag for contractors is if they ask for too much up front, like half of what the total project cost is supposed to be, and if they ask that a check be written in their name as opposed to a business name,” Lybarker said.

Lybarker says if a contractor does request money up front, it should be no more than the cost of materials to get that job started.

And if you do pay any money upfront, make sure that amount is deducted from the remaining cost of the project.

Once the work has started, or has been completed, if you’re not happy, Lybarker says your best bet is to work things out with the contractor.

But if that doesn’t resolve the issue, you can contact another contractor, and file a complaint with her office.

Lybarker says it’s always a good idea to talk with family, friends and co-workers to get references for contractors they have dealt with.

She also recommends a solid consultation before work begins, so you’ll know how long the job should take, and everything that the contract covers.

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