THIBODAUX, La. (BRPROUD) – If you’re starting a large home improvement or building project, be wary of contractor fraud scams.
Lafourche Parish District Attorney Kristine Russell shares a few tips residents should take into account to avoid falling victim to contractor fraud. Her tips include:
References — Get references and talk to anyone who hired potential contractors in the past. Make sure to ask about their quality of work and whether the work was completed in a timely manner.
Estimates — Get several estimates for comparison and make sure estimates include the total price, materials being used, payment timetable and a date for project completion.
Verification — Verify that a contractor is state-licensed by visiting www.lacontractor.org, downloading the La Contractor mobile app or calling the Louisiana State Licensing Board for Contractors (LSLBC) at 1-800-256-1392. Hiring a licensed contractor protects you from liability since they are required to have insurance. You can verify their insurance by asking the contractor you’re looking to hire for up-to-date insurance certificates.
Contract — A written contract should detail the work being done, the materials being used, equipment being installed, when payments are due and when the work is expected to be completed. Changes to the contract should be made in writing.
Payment — It is advised that you don’t make full or large payments before the work is completed. A down payment should be the minimum. One way to keep track of payments is to have it in writing, outline a payment plan based on completion of construction milestones. Once a payment is made, the contractor has 45 days to begin the work unless the contract specifies a longer period of time.
Monitor — Keep track of the progress of the work regularly and make sure that materials agreed upon to be used are actually being used.
Records — Keep all building project documentation, including contracts, written changes, bills and invoices, receipts and any other related documents. Russell also suggests that pictures are taken of the projects during various stages of completion.
“Whether it’s an addition, remodel, new build or repair work being done to your home, slowing down and taking the time to follow these seven tips is a great way to help protect yourself against contractor fraud,” said Assistant District Attorney Lisa Pinho, special prosecutor for contractor fraud.
Victims of contractor fraud are urged to contact the Lafourche Parish District Attorney’s Office at 985-447-2003 and speak to ADA Lisa Pinho. For more information and resources click here.