In response to last week’s flooding in Schuyler County, which left many property owners with extensive damage, state and local officials have released a list of tips for consumers to avoid being scammed, when hiring a contractor.
According to Schuyler County Attorney Steven Getman, who also serves as Ovid Town Attorney, when entering into a contract to repair your property:
• Be specific about what work you want done.
• Educate yourself about the required permits – don’t rely solely on the contractor.
• Shop around.
• Get references and check them.
• Get proof of insurance from the contractor.
• Check any required licenses.
• Never pay the full price upfront.
• Always put work to be done in writing, including all add-ons.
• Know where your payments are going.
“Never do business with a contractor who is unwilling to abide by any of the conditions above,” Getman said. “New York State law requires every home improvement contractor, before beginning work to provide the consumer with a written contract to be signed by both parties that sets out certain specific information and disclosures.”
According to Getman, the required disclosure information includes:
• Proposed start and completion dates;
• Particular description of the work to be done;
• Materials to be provided; and
• Notice that the consumer has an unconditional three-day right to cancel the contract without penalty.
In addition, Getman noted, the law requires that any advance deposits taken by the contractor must be placed into an account at a banking institution separate from the contractor’s other funds. The contractor must notify the consumer of the banking institution at which the deposit is kept.
Any residents who feel victimized should local law enforcement , the New York State Police or the New York State Attorney General’s Consumer Fraud Division, Getman said.