Consumer Corner Column

Consumer Corner: As construction season begins, watch out for fraudulent contractors

Release Date: Apr 25, 2018

By Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt

It’s finally starting to feel like spring here in Kansas. With the arrival of warmer weather, many homeowners decide it may be time for some home improvement projects. Spring also means severe weather season in Kansas, which unfortunately often results in unplanned, but necessary, roofing repairs.

Whether your roofing project is the result of wind or hail damage, or if it’s just time for a new roof, it’s important for Kansas consumers to know the rules that are in place to protect you from fly-by-night contractors.

A few years ago the Legislature passed a law requiring roofing contractors to register with the attorney general’s office to help combat the problem of these “storm-chasing” contractors, who many times took consumers’ payment then failed to do the work, or performed very poor quality work, leaving the consumer on the hook. More than 1,400 roofers are currently registered and in good standing to operate in Kansas.

It’s important to make sure the roofing contractor you use is properly registered with the attorney general’s office. Ask the roofer to provide you a copy of their current roofing registration certificate, and go to our website at www.InYourCornerKansas.org to make sure the contractor is still in good standing. We keep a current, searchable list of the registered contractors. Many city and county governments also require permits before doing work, so make sure your roofer has complied with all local ordinances as well.

Here are some more tips to help keep you safe from home repair scams:

  • If a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
  • Get multiple written bids on home improvement projects to ensure quotes are reasonable and competitive.
  • Be cautious of contractors who request large, upfront payments.
  • Ask for local references. Working with a well-known, reputable local contractor will help prevent becoming a victim of a fly-by-night operator who won’t be around if you have problems later.
  • Friends, family and neighbors are the best sources for recommendations.
  • Be sure your contractor is insured. The contractor should have personal liability, property damage and worker’s compensation insurance for workers and subcontractors. Also check with your insurance company to find out if you are covered for any injury or damage that might occur.

Most importantly, document everything in writing. Insist on a contract that states exactly what work will be done, the quality of materials that will be used, warranties, timetables, the names of any subcontractors, the total price of the job, and the schedule of payments. Don’t make a final payment or sign a final release until you are satisfied with the work and know that subcontractors and suppliers have been paid.

For more tips on staying safe from home repair scams or to file a complaint, visit our consumer protection website at www.InYourCornerKansas.org or call our consumer protection hotline at (800) 432-2310.

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