Homeowners should take care hiring contractors

Get everything in writing, and always be the instigator: be wary of contractors who approach you.

The Better Business Bureau recently issued a warning to homeowners to do their research when hiring contractors, just as the area has been targeted by sales people claiming to be able to offer a deal on furnace and air conditioner systems that will save residents money.

The door-to-door sales people were in Ashcroft late last week, following reports from a neighbouring community that the operators often became intimidating when making their pitch; to the point that the RCMP had to be called in more than one case.

Evan Kelly, Senior Communications Manager for BBB serving Mainland BC, says that “Unfortunately, there are shifty people out there with morals that are few and far between. We’ve seen instances where the elderly are overcharged for work that may not even be required. Beware of people who are too pushy, and always make sure you’re the instigator.”

A common tactic is for contractors to approach homeowners, particularly the elderly, and tell them that they need roofing repairs done. They might also claim that they can offer a cut rate because they have material left over from another job, or that they’re a factory rep and can offer a good deal.

Kelly advises people to do their homework when it comes to contractors. “Ask for references, and get quotes from at least three different contractors.” Ask the references questions such as how was the quality of the work, was it completed within budget and on time, and was the customer satisfied with the work.

If you do go ahead with a contractor, says Kelly, “Get everything in writing, signed, on company letterhead. Don’t pay everything up front; usually the deposit should be between 10 and 15 per cent of the total cost of the job. And never pay with cash.”

Homeowners can check out businesses at www.bbb.org. They can also use the BBB’s “Request a Quote” system, which allows people to find and check contractors in their area. To use the system, go to www.mbc.app.bbb.org/connect.

“There are many local contractors out there with a good track record that will deliver quality work on time and within budget,” says Kelly. “We want the public to make sure they’re hiring a reputable firm, especially when it comes to something as important as home repairs.”