Avoiding Home Improvement Scams

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Consumer Assistance Hotline:
(518) 474-8583
(800) 697-1220

Consumer Complaint Form
DOS Newsroom
FOIL Requests
  • 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