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5 hot tips to avoid being scammed


by cowboys and dodgy home improvement companies

Now Spring is almost upon us, the daffodils are in full bloom; people are starting to mow their lawns, cars are being washed on driveways, we say a firm goodbye to winter, however the impending warm weather also brings out the scam artists and the cowboys, all of whom are after YOUR MONEY!!!! Lets take a look at some ways that you can avoid being ripped off during 2008.

As many people have more or less been confined to their homes for the duration of the winter, it’s common to see far more people out and around now than in the colder months, doing gardening, odd jobs, painting exterior woodwork etc and they are easy targets for con-men and cowboys looking to make a few extra dollars from you. BEWARE!

"Spring and the onset of better weather here in Canada always brings out the cowboys, the dodgy door canvassers and the con-artists. "These people often target vulnerable people like lone women, old age pensioners and the like, and to be frank, they are out for all they can get.

When you have a pressing need to get something done, maybe tiding up an overgrown
garden for example, It can be very easy, unless you are forewarned and prepared, to
fall prey to a smooth-talker who just happens to have the perfect (and cheaper)
solution to your problem.

Home Improvement Scams

Home Improvement scams and cons come in many guises, but most of them emulate, in
some form, the "travelling handyman" or the builder who “happens to be in the area”.
A person knocks on a door, saying they're doing other work in the local area or that they have leftover supplies from a different job; rogue carpet fitters being a prime example of that. They offer to do some work, usually taking the money from the
customer in advance, “to go and buy some materials for the job” and are often never
seen again. Of course, there are many variations on this theme, but they all have
the same goal: to separate trusting homeowners from their money.

Don't ever hire someone unless you know, without question, their permanent business
address, and they can prove it.Check they have a land line phone number, and or a business card or something similar, with their details on. That's only the first question you should ask them. Reputable business people and established contractors will have no problem answering your questions and supplying proof of who they are and their expertise. If they have a sign written van outside, that can sometimes be a good sign that they are traceable. Also if you are looking for a TRUE PROFESSIONAL to work on your home, it is unlikely that they will demand payment in CASH only. Sometimes, a cheque at the end of the job is sufficient, or they may even send you an invoice for the work, with payment terms clearly stated, such as “payment to be made in 14 days” or similar.

Remember if you pay someone cash-in-hand, it is highly likely that there will be no
comeback and no guarantee, so if they paint your house, and a week later it washes
off, tough luck! (If this happens, it’s your own fault!..............& you should
take a bit better note of what we tell you!).


  1. Scrutinise anyone who might perform home improvement services for
    you—especially those who knock on your door and just happen to be in the locality at
    that time. Our advice is to say a firm “no” to anyone who APPROACHES YOU for work.
    They can’t be all that good if they have to knock your door. The best way from
    experience, is to tell the person that you rent the house. That usually does the
  2. Always demand to see proof of their permanent business address, proper
    identification and appropriate licensing and insurance BEFORE letting anyone into
    your home. Don’t be afraid to ask for official ID such as driving licence, business license or WCB coverage.
  3. Make sure you work out the details of the amount of the payment, the
    payment schedule, and the exact scope of work (the details of what work is to be
    completed on your home) before any money is exchanged and before work begins. Some contractors may ask for a small deposit. You should not pay more than a third of the total value as a deposit, and NEVER PAY THIS IN CASH!!! While the cheque is
    clearing, that can also give you time to check them out to see if they really are
    who they say they are.
  4. Get everything in writing. Asking for a written estimate might probably
    discourage a con-artist, as traditionally, a cowboy builder will provide you with
    his interpretation of the work, rather than perhaps what you want or thought you
    were getting. Any reputable home improvement contractor will understand that they
    are competing for your business and should be happy to give you a written estimate.
    This is a great way to judge the differences in professionalism and cost.
  5. Don't allow yourself to be rushed or pressured into agreeing to work that, (until they turned up on your doorstep an hour ago), you didn’t know you needed! Do your research. The internet is a great place to start, plus ask friends or family, or even neighbours, who they got to do any work previously, then do the right thing and CONTACT THE CONTRACTOR, instead of waiting to be preyed on by a con man.. .................and rather importantly, remember you have every right to say "NO" to anyone offering to do work on your home and you have every right to ask them to leave your premises doorstep. If they do not do so, call the police!

I hope that the above information is food for thought. We would not wish for any
reader to be the victim of a con or scam this spring or summer. Remember, there are
many companies about who will knock your door and try and con you. Many of these
people may be turned out smart, well spoken and seem very plausible, but they are
NOT YOUR FRIENDS!!!!! They are not doing you a favour, they are after your hard
earned money! DON’T GIVE IT TO THEM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!....

While the above advice is given in good faith, there are many very good companies
and contractors who you can choose from to carry out works to your home. There are
however particular industries that lead themselves to high pressure selling or dodgy
conmen on the doorstep

............Be warned and be careful if someone approaches you out of the blue.

Feel confident in using our Products and Services section on our website

It's your money, and it’s your choice! Stay safe out there