Avoiding Home Improvement Scams
Consumer Assistance Hotline:
New York State Gasoline Price Hotline:
- Check for a license where required (these counties have licensing requirements for home improvement contractors: Nassau, New York City, Putnam, Rockland, Suffolk and Westchester)
- Ask for proof of insurance coverage (e.g. workers compensation, property, liability)
- Ask for local references and call the references to see if they were satisfied with the work. If possible, visually inspect examples of the contractor's work; do not rely on photographs provided by the contractor
- Get at least three written estimates, especially if the job is big
- Ask about experience and training
- Inquire whether the project requires a permit, and who is responsible for obtaining it. Consider double-checking with local authorities about whether a permit is required.
- Get a written contact. Under the law, contracts for jobs costing $500 or more must be in writing, but it's best to get a written contract in all cases. Make sure the contract includes:
- The approximate start date and completion date of the work, including any contingencies that would change the completion date
- A specific description of the work and materials, including brands, model numbers and other identifying information, along with the price
- A requirement that the contractor will comply with all applicable laws, regulations and codes, and that no work will be done until the contractor has obtained all necessary permits.
- Keep in mind that the law gives you three days to cancel a home improvement contract. Cancellation must be in writing and should be sent to the contractor by certified mail, return receipt requested
Last Modified: April 26, 2011