Most home improvement contractors are reputable people who do a professional job for fair prices. But if you’re thinking of hiring someone to repair your driveway (asphalt paving or concrete patching), you should take a few simple steps to ensure that you aren’t taken advantage of by a disreputable contractor.
Driveway repair is one of the most common improvement projects that untrustworthy contractors target in order to scam homeowners (for one of the many examples of driveway repair fraud arrests, check out this arrest report.) When spring arrives every year, many people discover that their driveway has developed cracks, and getting repaved or patched becomes a priority. Unfortunately, many homeowners don’t do some very easy homework before paying a contractor to fix their driveways, and they end up getting shoddy repair work (or worse).
Before you hire a local asphalt repair or concrete patching contractor, make sure to get references from them from nearby homeowners who have used their services. Take some time to make sure that their required local licensing, insurance and bonding is up-to-date and legitimate. And remember: NEVER allow a contractor to start work until all agreed-upon services and charges are put into writing.
Another tip that will help out if something ends up going wrong: if you can, be sure to pay by credit card instead of cash or check. When you pay by credit card, you will have more options for recouping your money if you end up getting cheated.
If a contractor insists that you pay in cash, tells you that you need to decide on services right away, or if they are from out of state, be very cautious. All of these are red flags for scammers. Professional contractors usually accept credit cards or checks, and have no problem providing you with an estimate on services that does not require immediate approval.
Another warning sign that most homeowners don’t watch for: be suspicious of contractors who say that they can give you a cheaper price because they have “leftover materials” from other repair jobs. An experienced concrete patching or driveway repair company almost never has leftover materials, because they know exactly how much asphalt paving or concrete patching product is needed for a specific job.
For more great advice on how to spot driveway repair scammers, you can check out this great article from the Better Business Bureau.
If you end up dealing with a contractor who you think might trying to scam you, it’s a good idea to make a call to the police and file a report. Not only will you be protecting yourself, but you’ll also be saving other local homeowners from falling victim to the same scammer in the future.