Colorado consumers filed nearly 14,000 complaints and inquiries with the state's Consumer Protection Section in 2021, a 15.1% increase from 2020.
Residential home services and repairs was again among the most common complaints Coloradans filed, according to the State Attorney General's office, led only by retail sales, unemployment scams, automotive sales and professional services. Many of the top-4 culprits were spurred on by the lingering effects of the coronavirus pandemic — like unemployment scams, retail sales and professional services — but residential home services have been a sore spot for Colorado consumers for a long time.
Totaling more than 700 complaints in 2021 consumers highlighted issues about general contracting and remodeling, heating and cooling, and handyman services as the greatest sources of frustration. The AG's Office directs consumers to the website StopFraudColorado.gov to streamline the process for filing fraud reports. But once a report is filed, it's left to the state to address the issues, but that doesn't necessarily fix the problems for homeowners.
No matter what kind of home services you're looking for, choosing the right contractor is the best way to make sure your money's well-spent and the results meet your expectations. Price, availability and reputation are just some of the factors to consider when choosing the best contractor for your home, but with so many service providers vying for work, narrowing your choices can be a daunting task.
Depending on the project, your contractor will be spending days, weeks and maybe even months in and around your home, amongst your family, pets, and possessions. You need to be able to trust them. Poke around their websites and social media pages to see examples of their work and learn more about their business, and read some of their customer reviews to see what past and present customers are saying about them. While you're at it, ask your prospective contractor exactly who will be preforming the work, them or a sub-contractor. You don't want to take the time getting to know a particular contractor only to have them send someone else to complete the job.
While it is commonplace for a contractor to "sub-out" work to other specialists for larger, more intricate projects, smaller projects should be handled by the contractor who said they can do the work. Unfortunately, sub contracting is a common tactic some companies use to maximize their revenue for smaller jobs and cut overhead costs, often unbeknownst to the homeowner, and can lead to shoddy workmanship, hidden fees, and other problems without recourse. If you can't find any of this information online, don't be afraid to ask them upfront!
You have a right to be well-informed — do not hesitate to ask questions! No matter how much you know (or don't know) about your project, the right contractor will make sure all your questions are answered during every stage of the project. The best contractors will be happy to provide all the information you need without making you feel silly for asking. Showing interest and understanding in their work also goes a long way in building trust and accountability.
Stay safe and sound
The term "licensed and insured" is more than marketing lingo — it denotes a contractor's ability to perform certain tasks to the highest standard, and an ability to cover the cost of any damages that may occur. Without the proper, up-to-date licenses, your contractor's work may not meet essential requirements to pass needed inspections, causing even bigger problems when it comes to future repairs or selling your home. Making sure your contractor is fully insured as well is just as important, keeping you from being held liable for any damage to your home, your neighbors homes, or injuries sustained by the worker. Lastly, Popular Mechanics says to look the prospective contractor's legal status to avoid the possibility of a lien being placed on your home. If your contractor owes, for example, a lumber yard for the cost of materials for your project and doesn't pay, you may be held liable for those costs, even if you paid your contractor in full.
Show love to the locals
Local contractors with a long history of work in your area are usually a reliable and good place to start, according to Popular Mechanics. These service providers live (and work) where you do, and have an inherent need to maintain their good reputation in the community. Searching out service providers that support local nonprofits, military and first responders, or causes close to your heart is another great way to build confidence in your contractor. Supporting businesses aligned with your beliefs is another way to foster a trusting relationship and make sure your money goes on to support the people and organizations you'd want it to in the future.
No matter how large or small your project is, choosing the right contractor is a big decision — don't be left with regrets! Trusting your instincts, asking questions and doing your research can go a long way in ensuring you choose the right contractor to complete the task at had, and don't become another statistic. If you notice any scams, fraud, price gouging, or other attempts to take advantage of Coloradans, contact Stop Fraud Colorado at 800-222-4444 or www.StopFraudColorado.gov.
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