How to Recognize and Avoid Contractor Scams
Contractor scams can lead to wasted money and unacceptable living conditions under your own roof. Keeping your HVAC system in good repair is a necessary and costly part of taking care of your Midtown home. When your heating and cooling system needs service or replacement, look for a reputable professional to do the work. Learn how to tell whether the professional you’re dealing with is a legitimate contractor or someone looking to cheat you.
Contractor Scams 101
Don’t put yourself in the hands of a scam artist. Here are a few of the questions you should be asking yourself to guarantee you’re not dealing with a shoddy individual masquerading as a contractor:
- Have you been asked to pay before the work is done? A reputable HVAC contractor will perform the work and then bill you. Some contractors may request a down payment; however, it’s likely that you’re dealing with an unsavory character if you’re asked to pay the full amount, or even half, before the job is completed. If you pay for the work up front, the so-called contractor may leave town with your money. Before you make a payment of any kind, confirm that the contractor has an office in the area with a physical address and phone number.
- Have you checked out the contractor’s credentials? HVAC contractors are required to hold a license with the Georgia secretary of state. You can call the state board at (478)-207-2440 or visit its website to make sure that the contractor is licensed to perform HVAC work. You can also ask the contractor to show proof of licenses and insurance. Hiring an unlicensed contractor could mean that the supposed professional doesn’t have the training or expertise to do the job. Even worse, if he or she doesn’t have insurance and something goes wrong at home, you could face costly and time-consuming legal issues.
- Have you confirmed the work? One of the more common contractor scams involves charging a homeowner for a part replacement without actually replacing any parts. If the job requires part replacement, ask to see the old parts, which the contractor hopefully removed from the system to verify that a new part is hard at work.
Hiring a Contractor - The Right Way
The best way to avoid contractor scams is to know how to vet and hire an HVAC contractor:
- Get an estimate in writing.
- Read the fine print, looking for factors like completion dates, labor cost per hour, etc.
- Make sure the contractor holds the proper licenses and insurance.
- Call references.
Casteel Heating, Cooling and Plumbing holds the licenses and insurance required by the state of Georgia in order to do business in the metro Atlanta area. We welcome your inquiries into our business to verify our expertise and training.