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Consumer Information and Publications: Home Repair and Construction If you are like most Illinoisans, your home is your most valuable financial asset. Performing upgrades on your home in the form of a new roof, new kitchen, or addition can increase its value, but home improvements can also be needlessly expensive and frustrating if you pay for work that is not performed, work that does not meet the building codes in your town, or work that is of poor quality.
For these reasons, it's important to take extra care when you hire someone to work on your home. Each year the Office of the Illinois Attorney General receives thousands of complaints involving disputes between home owners and home repair contractors.
Home owners can protect themselves by following some important rules and asking the right questions. Common Home Repair Scams Complaints received by the Office of the Illinois Attorney General demonstrate that unscrupulous home repair contractors use some common techniques to gain the confidence of home owners.
Unscrupulous contractors might tell you they have "leftovers" from a larger job and can do the repair work for you at a discount.
They might attempt to frighten you by claiming that your house contains health hazards or code violations that must be fixed right away. They might claim to writing a general company description a representative of your insurance company in an attempt to get you to agree to work they say your insurance policy will pay for.
You might be offered a "free furnace cleaning" by a heating and cooling company as an excuse to sell you a new furnace you do not need. In general, consumers should beware when a home repair contractor: Before You Start Your Project You should always complete two basic steps before contracting for any home repair or home improvement project: Before you start your project, make sure to define the scope of the work that you are going to undertake.
To define the scope of work, write down exactly what you want done in your home, so that when you talk to a contractor, you will be able to focus on what you actually need—and not be sold additional or unnecessary work. You should also write down the specifications for the job.
The specifications should include such factors as the time frame in which you want the work done, the type of materials you want the contractor to use, how you intend to pay for the job, and the payment schedule for the contractor, subcontractors, and suppliers.
Your list of specifications can include anything about the project that is important to you and can serve as a reference for you when you interview contractors. If you think through the scope and specifications of the project ahead of time and put your expectations in writing, you can show a contractor what you need clearly and quickly.
Finding a Contractor You should find out as much as you can about a contractor before hiring him or her. Contact your local village hall or township to find out if there is a license requirement and if there have been any complaints made about the companies you might use.
Ask for recommendations from friends, neighbors, or coworkers who have had home improvement work done. Don't assume that all contractors who advertise in the "home improvement" section of the Yellow Pages have a valid license or that they're reputable.
Get written estimates from several firms—but don't automatically choose the lowest bidder. There are other factors besides cost to consider. The following is a list of the basic steps for choosing a contractor or home repair company: Get recommendations and references.
Talk to friends, family, and other people or whom the contractor has done similar work. Get at least three written estimates from contractors who have come to your home to evaluate what needs to be done.
Be sure the estimates are based on the same work so that you can make meaningful comparisons. Make sure the contractor meets licensing and registration requirements by contacting the appropriate governmental authority. Get the names of suppliers and ask if the contractor makes timely payments.
Contact your local building inspection department to check for permit and inspection requirements. Be sure your contractor has the required personal liability, property damage, and worker's compensation insurance for his or her workers and subcontractors.
Get copies of the contractor's proof of insurance. Also check with your insurance company to find out if you are covered for any injury or damage that may occur. Be wary of businesses that operate out of post office boxes, private mailboxes, and suites instead of local business addresses.
Insist on a complete written contract. Know exactly what work will be done, the quality of the materials that will be used, warranties, timetables, the total price of the job, and the schedule of payments.
Ask the contractor if subcontractors will be used on the project. If yes, ask to meet them, and make sure they have current insurance coverage and licenses.Job descriptions Writing job descriptions and examples, job descriptions duties, directors responsibilities Introduction.
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