In the current economy, more people are choosing to hold onto their homes as opposed to trying to sell them. While doing so, they are taking advantage of the opportunity to do some home repair and improvement, no doubt hoping that it will benefit them in the future when the home market turns back around.
Of course there are always those who would seek to make a profit from somebody else’s misfortune, and there is an entire industry of scam artists that has grown up around the home repair industry. Many of these scams are quite convincing at first, but in the end are only designed to part you from your money.
Here are my top five home repair scams
The Leaking Roof. Who among us hasn’t had someone knock on our door and offer to have our roof replaced in order to prevent more serious damage to our home? The removal and replacement of roof shingles typically costs $5000 or more, with deck replacement (the wooden base beneath the shingles) adding thousands more. Remember that roofing shingles are designed to last 15 to 20 years. You should only consider replacing your roof if you have a lot of shingles missing or of granular material residue from shingles is accumulating in your gutters. As for the deck, full replacement is rarely required. Repairing the damaged portion is usually perfectly adequate.
Waterproofing The Basement. This is the crazy first cousin to The Leaky Roof, where somebody tells you that in order to stop your basement water problems that you will need to dig out your entire foundation and have it waterproofed, usually costing somewhere between $5000 and $15000. In fact, most basement water solutions are much simpler and less expensive.
Termites. The ubiquitous termite letter is a vital part of any real estate transaction. Unfortunately, too many people buy into the myth about termites being able to literally destroy a house, which makes it open season for scam artists who will use such misinformation to bilk people out of $3000 or more. Don’t just take anybody’s word for it. You house isn’t going to cave in. Take the time to research and hire a local, qualified pest control company, preferably one that will give you a five year guarantee.
Chimney Sweeping. You get a knock on your door from a gentleman who has just cleaned your neighbor’s chimney and is offering to do yours for the low price of $39.95 (or whatever that day’s low rate is). Once inside the chimney, however, he finds additional problems that can be repaired at additional costs. In no time at all, the $39.95 quote is a distant memory. Hire only chimney sweeps that have been certified by the Chimney Safety Institute Of America, and be prepared to pay a minimum of $250 for an inspection, and more if cleaning is actually required.
The Fungus Among Us. Fears about mold run rampant, especially if you think there might actually be mold in your home. Scam artists will try to talk you into paying out $500 – $600 for a mold inspection, then route you to a mold removal company that they are in cahoots with. When dealing with any kind of mold problem, hire companies that have been certified by industry leaders such as the Institute for Inspection, Cleaning, and Restoration Services (IICRC). They will be able to identify any mold problem and carry out appropriate remediation procedures.
So when taking the time to do your home improvements, also take the time to do your homework and research on anybody who tells you that a certain job must be done at a certain time. Taking that time to do so may save you thousands of dollars and a lot of headaches.