Homeowners Beware! 3 Ways You Can Get Screwed Over
Now that you’ve purchased your dream home, you’re probably excited to move in and start your adventure in a new neighborbood. Maybe you want to do some upgrades. You’re already envisioning a brand-new kitchen, shiny wood floors, and a sleek bathroom. Or maybe you moved into a new condo and you’re excited about living in a community you’ve always wanted to be part of. But before you get carried away, you’ll need to make sure you’re aware of some situations that could invite trouble down the road. When it comes to getting services for your home or becoming part of a new community, there are some instances where if you’re not careful you could end up getting screwed over. Here are some ways homeowners get a raw deal.
1. Hiring a shady contractor
You may be excited to get some work done on your home, but you need to be careful when hiring contractors. A bad decision could result in thousands of dollars in losses. First of all, when evaluating offers, don’t stop at the first bid. You can save yourself a world of trouble by shopping around and seeing what’s out there. If you take the first offer, you could cheat yourself out of a good deal, get a subpar contractor, or both. Chris Ling, Nerd Wallet’s head of homebuying and mortgages, told The Cheat Sheet it’s best to get at least three bids. “Always get at least three bids from professionals who are licensed and insured, and ask for references from each of them,” advised Ling.
Also make sure to get your bid in writing. Never rely on a verbal promise. It’s just too easy for a contractor to go back on his or her word. Read all of the documents and ask questions if you don’t understand something. Ling explains:
Get all bids in writing that are line items for materials, labor, design, taxes, and any other fees, along with how long it will take to complete the work and estimated man hours. Some contractors will try to charge you the entire fee up front or half as a deposit; that’s a red flag. The general rule of thumb is to pay in thirds — a third up front as a deposit and to cover the cost of materials; a third halfway through the project and a third after it’s completed to ensure that you’re satisfied with the results. It’s always best to get referrals from friends or family who’ve used the professional and were happy with the results.
2. Being unaware of community rules
When you move in to a condominium or cooperative development, there is often a long list of rules each tenant must abide by. You can get this rule book from the community’s management office. It would be in your best interest to know what these rules are so you don’t end up having your new neighbors file complaints against you. Community developments generally have rules regarding noise, parking, and appropriate times to receive large deliveries. Exterior paint colors can also be a source of regulation and headache.
3. Being unprepared for service calls
Preparation is key when it comes to having services done in your home. Do your research ahead of time so that you know not only what service you need but also how much that particular service would cost in your neighborhood. Don’t leave it up to the service provider to figure out every detail. Be proactive when it comes to service calls so that you can save money. Also make sure to read your bill carefully when it’s time to make payments. This will help guard against hidden fees or fees for services that were never performed.