If you are considering remodeling or repairs at your home, make sure you’re aware of your rights as a consumer. Investigate prospective contractors, get quotes, insurance, the contract for work and other documents in writing, and follow these tips to help protect yourself from being defrauded:
Consider using online home service websites that list vetted and reviewed contractors.
Seek bids from three companies to ensure you are paying a fair price and have found a contractor that you can work with.
Before signing a contract over $1,000, the contractor is required to provide you with a pamphlet from the Illinois Attorney General titled, “Home Repair: Know Your Consumer Rights”. Make sure you receive and read this pamphlet. It contains valuable information for contracting work, and can also be found at the website below.
Look up contractor reviews across various websites. Consider searching the Better Business Bureau, Yelp, and Google for past complaints. Be wary of contractors with many negative reviews.
If you are having roofing work or plumbing work performed, verify that the contractor possess the required Illinois license. You can verify licensure and disciplinary history using the following websites:
If you are having electrical work performed, the person performing the work is required to possess an electrical contractors license.
Verify who will be performing the work. It is not uncommon for a contract to subcontract work to additional companies.
Ensure that the contract has a total cost noted, a complete description of the work to be performed, and estimated start and completion dates. The contract should state that any charges outside of those in the contract must be authorized by you in advance.
Be sure the contractor agrees that Village building permits will be applied for, and that work will be done in accordance with Village Code. The contractor or the homeowner can submit the permit application; determine who will submit and pay for the building permit. Payment for the project should be contingent upon an approved building inspection.
Never sign a contract with blank spaces or sections that you do not understand.
Confirm that the contractor is fully insured and bonded for work. Ask for a certificate of insurance indicating you as the additional insured and request a copy of the contractor's bond.
Maintain all paperwork related to your project, and take photos of the work site before, during and after the construction work, as a record.
Do not sign a certificate of completion or make payment until the work is done to your satisfaction. In addition, you should verify that the project has been inspected and approved by the Village by requesting a copy of the Certificate of Completion or Certificate of Occupancy issued by the Village. When you do pay, it’s recommended to pay by credit card or check and always get a receipt. It is not a good practice to pay for materials in advance or for anything that you are not already in possession of. Keep down payments as low as possible. For example, a 50% down payment exposes you to significant risks, and a loss of leverage.
Demand lien waivers from contractors, subcontractors, and suppliers to confirm payment is received and any future lien rights to your property are waived.
For more information on consumer rights or if you think you were defrauded by a contractor, bring your concerns to the Illinois Attorney General by calling 1-800-386-5438 or by visiting the Illinois Attorney General.