How To Avoid Basement Repair Rip-Offs
1) You can request referrals from past satisfied clients, but donít be fooled by references supplied by a contractor. Many times disreputable contractors will give you the name and phone number of a close friend or relative who are just waiting for your call.
Ask friends or relatives who have had work done that they are happy with. They can be your best source for references.
2) Never give credit card numbers to a sales representative, supervisor or worker. If you want to pay by credit card, visit or phone the companyís office. Always obtain a receipt for payments made.
3) Be suspicious of companies offering a really low price. Ask yourself what they are leaving out of their proposal, and what quality of workmanship they are providing. You should choose a contractor with a competitive price and question why a contractor has a much higher or lower price than others.
A very low price may leave you liable for accidents, injuries or damages caused on the job. In many cases, after a homeowner and contractor agree on a project price, it goes up and up once the job starts. It is always safer to secure a firm quotation and not just an estimate.
4) Request a step by step description of the work to be completed from your contractor. Be cautious of very general and vague descriptions of work to be performed.
5) Donít pay the same for damproofing as you would for waterproofing. Waterproofing is a far superior method to keep water out of your basement. Waterproofing normally consists of applying layers of trowelled-on asphalt emulsion with sheets of fibre mesh embedded over an asphalt primer coat. This is applied after the wall is repaired. Damproofing usually consists of one coat sprayed on. Ask your contractor which method he is using.
6) Be careful of contractors using certain rubberized membranes. Ask to see manufacturerís specifications and ensure installations are in compliance, especially in the footing area.
7) Underpinning is one of the biggest rip-offs among disreputable contractors. They sell 25 feet deep piles and may only drill 15 feet deep. For underpinning, it is mandatory to have an engineer's drawing which includes location, size and depth of the piles. A city building permit is also required for underpinning.
8) Better Business Bureau (BBB) is set up to help the consumer attain valuable information on contractors, which could help you to avoid using a disreputable service. BBB will tell you how long a company has been in business, their track record of complaints, and how they have resolved these issues. Every well-established company has had some form of issue with a homeowner. If a company has not had any complaints it may be due to their short period of time in business or that they perform a low volume of work. If a company is not a member of BBB you should question why. Are they trying to hide something?
9) Donít agree to make a full payment in advance or a larger than normal deposit prior to the commencement of the work. Even if the contractor claims they need the money to buy materials, a reputable contractor wonít need to pay for materials in advance because they will have an account with their suppliers. The Canadian Home Buildersí Association (CHBA) recommends a prepayment of 10 to 15 percent of the total price. If you give a full payment in advance, the contractor will not be in any hurry to complete your project, as they already have your money. Disreputable contractors move around from province to province and change their business names to hide their identities.
10) Be wary of contractors offering a "special cash deal to skip the paperwork". While it is tempting to save money on your repair by making a "cash deal" with a contractor, it is always wise to get an agreement in writing. The contract provides the terms of the agreement in case of a dispute including scope of work, procedures, work schedule, warranty, price and payment schedule. It also protects you from certain liabilities.
11) Ask the company for a copy of their insurance certificate to ensure it is in good standing. General Liability insurance covers a contractor for accidents that occur while the contractor is working. However, there are exclusions to coverage, and you should confirm the actual scope of the contractorís coverage directly with the contractor. Ensure you use a company whose workers are covered by the Workers Compensation Board. A contractor can offer lower prices for workers not having this coverage. However, if an uninsured worker is injured while working on your home, you may be liable.
12) Another major concern with any repair project is finding the right solution. Ensure that the companies you are considering explain everything to you so that you understand it clearly. Ask for options and question what repairs are needed. Many people have spent large sums of money on the wrong repairs.
13) Many consumers are afraid to call sales representatives for fear of being forced into buying something they donít need. Some contractors use high pressure tactics. Their sales force are trained to convince you to make a quick decision. They want to close the sale on the spot. They use phrases like "seniors discount", "If you donít buy now, you will regret it later", "If you donít buy now, we may not get to you until it is too late" or "we have a special time limited offer, and I can reduce your cost significantly on this project if we can make an agreement today". Do not be fooled by this type of offer. Do careful research on the company, as they are likely more concerned with getting your money than they are about performing a quality job.
14) Use a company that employs qualified on-site supervisors who will ensure that the repairs to your foundation are completed as promised.
15) Ensure that your contractor provides a valid warranty.
16) Choose a contractor who can back up their claims with a history of good business practices.
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Seven Deadly Mistakes Homeowners Make    Five Misconceptions About Foundation Repairs
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