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Category: Home Maintenance

Contractor Fraud: What It Is and Tips To Help Avoid It

When you experience home damage, especially to critical areas of your home like the roof, you probably want a contractor to come out and fix it immediately. However, there is good reason to hold off until you find a trustworthy and reliable contractor. Why? Although most contractors aim to provide quality services, you still run the risk of encountering a few who may engage in contractor fraud.

 

Here we explain what contractor fraud is, warning signs of contractor fraud, as well as give you tips to help you avoid common scams.

 

What Is Contractor Fraud?

Contractor fraud occurs when individual contractors or contracting firms hired to repair, renovate, or build residential or commercial properties knowingly offer misleading services, such as charging more than a contract is worth or performing unsatisfactory work. This usually results in negative consequences for homeowners and could lead to additional repairs and expenses because of poor workmanship or fraudulent charges.

 

Tips For Avoiding Common Contractor Scams

Here are a few common contractor scams and how to avoid them.

 

1. Requesting Full Payment Upfront

This is one of the biggest giveaways when it comes to contractor fraud. Your contractor asks for full payment upfront to order the materials and equipment 

needed for the job. After this, they go missing with your money, continue to delay your project for months or perform unsatisfactory work.

 

How To Avoid This Scam: Never pay more than the legal maximum in your state upfront. Usually, this will be no more than 10% of the contract total. The only purpose of an advance is to establish you as a serious customer and the contractor can work you into their schedule. As for material and equipment costs, remember, if your contractor is reputable, their suppliers will provide materials to them on credit.

 

2. Encountering Unforeseen Problems and Requiring Additional Payment

Another warning sign of contractor fraud could be your contractor encountering serious, unexpected issues like plumbing problems or termite damage – after they’ve started the job. Your contractor then requests significant payment to fix the problem, leaving you with no choice but to pay to keep the project going.

 

How To Avoid This Scam: Before you sign a contract, make sure it includes a process for change orders, which are mini contracts containing a project description and a fixed price for any tasks you add to the contract. This extra work should only occur after both the homeowner and contractor both sign off on the change.  

 

3. Using Materials Leftover from Previous Jobs

You should be wary of contractors who claim they can offer you a great deal by performing the job with materials leftover from previous jobs.

 

How To Avoid This Scam: Do not hire contractors on the spot. Be sure to check your contractor’s background to make sure they are reputable and perform quality work.

 

4. Offering Free Inspections

Many legitimate contractors won’t charge you for an estimate, but you should still be on guard. Especially with the elderly, look out for contractors who perform 

inspections in areas of your home you can’t easily access, such as attics or crawl spaces.

 

How To Avoid This Scam: Be sure to pay extra attention to your contractor’s assessment. Also, it’s a good idea to get more than one estimate.

 

5. No Contract

Never agree to a job if there is no written contract.

 

How To Avoid This Scam: Always require a written (not verbal) contract including all the details of the job you want and agree to. You and your contractor should sign a written contract agreed to by both parties.

 

6. Lack of Permits

Significant construction and renovation projects require you to have a building permit to ensure your work meets safety codes. Fraudulent contractors may try to get past this requirement, so they don’t have to deal with building inspectors, by not obtaining the required permits or requesting the homeowner apply for the permit with their own name.

 

How To Avoid This Scam: Always ask your contractor to get a building permit, if required. This will result in your local tax assessor being informed about your upgrade, but it filters out unlicensed contractors.

 

More General Tips For Avoiding Contractor Fraud

 

1. Verify insurance: Make sure to verify if your contractor has the necessary insurance to work in your area. Check with your contractor’s insurance carrier to confirm they have coverage for worker’s compensation, property damage, and personal liability should there be an accident.

2. Prepare for future service issues: Be sure you are well-informed about your warranty coverage and how to deal with future service issues.

3. Get your lien waiver: In the U.S., a lien waiver is a document from your contractor stating they received full payment.

 

4. Keep your contract: Stash your contract in a safe place just in case you have any questions after the work is finished.

 

Before Hiring a Contractor, Contact Your Insurer

Doing your due diligence by researching your contractor is the best way to avoid fraud. Be sure to ask for references and trust your gut if you feel anything is off. It’s also important to talk to your insurer before any work is commissioned to make sure it’s within your policy.

 

If you’re not happy with your current policy, be sure to contact Edison Insurance. We can help to customize your homeowners coverage so you have peace of mind.

Home Maintenance Checklist for Your Florida Home

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Fix a Leak Week


March 18-24 is “Fix a Leak Week”. Created by the EPA, Fix a Leak Week serves as a reminder to check for pipe leaks inside and outside of our homes. The EPA estimates household leaks account for nearly one trillion gallons of water lost nationwide each year. The most common types of leaks found in your home include faucets, toilets, and other valves. It is important you know how to check for leaks, so they can be repaired as soon as possible. Doing so will help the environment, avoid a potential water claim, and may save you some money on your water bill.
 
How to check for leaks:

  • The first way to identify a leak is by comparing your water usage. An average family of four can use roughly 400 gallons of water every day. If your usage exceeds 12,000 gallons per month, there is most likely a leak in your home.

 

  • Look for toilet leaks by placing a drop of food coloring in the toilet tank. If the color shows up in the bowl after about 10 minutes, there’s a leak. Don’t forget to flush the toilet after your test to avoid staining the tank.

 

  • Worn faucet washers and gaskets are the main cause of leaks in your sinks. Be sure to inspect them to see if they are leaking, or if any water is visible outside the pipe.

 
 
Just a little leak in a pipe can cause thousands in damages to your home. It is important you take steps to mitigate damages.  If you do not feel comfortable checking for leaks yourself, contact a local plumbing company for assistance. Although Fix a Leak Week is from March 18-24, remember to check for leaks inside and outside of your home throughout the year.
 
 
As a Florida homeowner, it is important to protect your property should the unexpected occur. Sufficient insurance coverage to fit the needs of your family is available through Edison Insurance Company. Should you have any questions or concerns about your policy, contact your agent, or call us at 866-568-8922. 

Painting Tips to Freshen up the Look of Your Home



 


After some time, your house can begin to look a little worn or dated. With a few simple steps, your home can look good as new without turning into a costly project. One of the best ways to do so is with a fresh coat of paint to add a pop of color. Here are a few tips to assist you with the painting process.

 
How to pick the right color and finish:
Picking a paint color can be very overwhelming with the hundreds of color options available at your local home improvement store. Consider bringing home a few different options before deciding on a color. Paint large areas of your walls to see which paint color will look best. A helpful tip is to see how your selections look during different times of the day and in different lighting as lights and shadows may change the color throughout the day. Don’t forget about the finish of your paint.  There are many options to choose from when picking the finish of your paint as well. You want to make sure you choose the right finish for the area of your home you are painting.
 

How much paint will you need?
To save some money, try to purchase the correct amount of paint for your area. Measure your walls and bring the measurements to your local home improvement or paint store and have an associate help you select a precise amount. Don’t forget to buy an extra quart of paint for touch-ups, you never know when you may need it.

 
You don’t have to paint an entire space:
If you do not want to paint an entire room, consider adding a simple accent wall for a pop of color. In doing so, you can add some nice dimensions to your room.  You don’t even have to paint a wall to get a fresh look. A simple coat of paint on your baseboards or crown molding can brighten up the look of your home. If you are looking for a simple pop of color, consider painting a cabinet or other piece of furniture a fun color.

 
We hope these tips will help you with your painting project. For more painting tips, click here.
 
Thank you for visiting the Edison Insurance Company Blog. Keeping your family and home safe and protected is our number one priority. Edison Insurance Company has taken a bright and innovative approach to Florida homeowners insurance with coverage options allowing you to customize a policy to best fit your needs. To learn more about us, or to receive a personalized home insurance quote, visit our website

Tips to Create a Clutter-Free Home


 

As the years go by, our homes accumulate quite a bit of clutter. Finding the time to donate or toss away unwanted items which take up space in your home can be daunting and decluttering your entire home may feel like quite an undertaking. However, it is possible to do without driving yourself crazy.  It is best to take the time to declutter room by room.  Here are some tips to declutter your home room by room:

 
Bedrooms: We tend to let items accumulate in drawers and counters. Begin with your nightstands and recycle or throw out items which are no longer in use such as broken chargers, tissues, books and magazines. Do the same thing to tops of dressers or chests. If any clothing or other items are out of place, put them back in their proper spots in your home.

 
Closets: Start by decluttering your closet by type, such as shoes, shirts, pants, undergarments, etc. Sort by what you will toss, keep, and donate. Whichever items you have decided to keep should be put away neatly and in their designated spot in your closet or dresser.
 

Bathrooms: Soaps, lotions, shampoos, medicines, makeup, and other products can take over bathroom cabinets and countertops. Try to take everything out of your cabinets and drawers and placing them on your countertop. Dispose of all expired medications, makeup, products, etc. Consider purchasing baskets or bins to neatly put back all your items. Don’t forget the shower and tub. Be sure to remove any old products no longer in use.
 

Living room: Keeping your living room neat can be quite a challenge, especially for families on the go. Decide on a storage area for your most used items such as books/magazines, and remote controls. Try to discard or donate items no longer in use such as older electronics and kids or pet toys. You will most likely need to declutter this space regularly.
 

Kitchen: Keeping your kitchen clutter free can be quite a challenge, as it is one of the most frequented and utilized spaces in your home. As such, the kitchen is home to several different items. It is recommended to start in one area or category of your kitchen at a time. For example, start with emptying cabinets to rid it of any unwanted items. Once complete, put all the items back to where they belong. Keeping your countertops clean and tidy by removing or relocating as many items as possible. A quick tip is to only keep the items you use every day on your countertops.
 
 
Remember, decluttering your home is a marathon, not a sprint. By tackling your home clutter room by room, you will see results quickly and efficiently. If you have lots of paper clutter, click here to read our blog on organizing your important paperwork. We hope these steps will help you in making your home the space you’ve wanted it to be.
 

Thank you for visiting our blog. Hopefully, you came away with some great home insurance and safety tips. Edison Insurance Company’s mission is to provide quality coverage at competitive rates while providing exceptional service.  For more information on Florida homeowners insurance or to get a quote, please call (866) 568-8922.

5 Easy Home Improvement Projects



 


Giving your home a little extra TLC can go a long way in keeping you and your family safe, saving a little money, and increasing your home’s value. Check out these simple projects you can do to show your home some love:


Power Wash

Your deck and driveway can become stained by mildew, wet leaves, and automotive leaks. Give those areas a thorough power wash for a renewed look.

 
Get your ducts in a row

If your dryer is not as efficient as it used to me, lint could be the culprit. Lint buildup in your ducts also increases your risk of a fire. Clean your ducts by moving your dryer away from the wall, unplugging the dryer, disconnecting the ductwork and vacuuming out the duct. Should you not feel confident performing this task, call a professional.
 

Switch to a Programmable Thermostat

If your house still has an old dial thermostat, you may want to consider switching to a programmable one. Programmable thermostats allow you to vary the temperature in your home accurately and may save you some money on your energy bill. Click here for installation instructions. 
 

Change your faucets

Is it time to update your old, leaky faucet? Grab a wrench, turn off your water supply, and install a more efficient faucet. By changing your faucet, you may save some money on your water bill.
 

Clean the Carpets

If you have carpeted areas in your home, they can become victim to spills, and accidents. Ideally, you should have your carpet professionally cleaned yearly. However, if you are looking to save some money, rent a home carpet cleaning machine from a participating store and bring your carpets back to life.
 

We hope you take these tips into consideration and show your house a little love.



Thank you for visiting our blog. Hopefully, you came away with some great home insurance and safety tips. Edison Insurance Company’s mission is to provide quality coverage at competitive rates while providing exceptional service.  For more information on Florida homeowners insurance or to get a quote, please call (866) 568-8922.

 

Annual Check-Up on Your Home


 

The new year often serves as a great reminder for annual check-ups. Like your annual check-up at the doctor’s office, your home and homeowners insurance require an annual check-up too. Consider these tips when conducting an annual check-up of your homeowners insurance:
 
Make, or update your home inventory

Over the holidays, you may have received some new items which should be documented in your home inventory. In the event of a loss, having a home inventory can expedite the claims process. Create a home inventory by listing your belongings and their estimated value. Keep more than one copy of your inventory in a safe and protected location.
 
Conduct a home inspection
 
Keeping your home and family safe and healthy starts with maintenance and preventative measures. Conduct a home inspection by checking for damage such as cracks, leaks, and breaks in the interior and exterior of your home. Should areas of your home be in need of repair, fix them as soon as possible to prevent further damage.
 
 
Review your homeowners insurance coverage
 
Many things can change over the course of a year, which may have an impact on your home insurance needs.  Read through your policy to better understand the coverages you have purchased, and contact your agent if you have any concerns, or need to make changes. Remember, Edison Insurance Company has several coverage options which can be tailored to suit your needs. Should the unexpected occur, you will have peace of mind knowing your home is covered.
 
 
We hope you take these tips into consideration to have a happy, safe, and worry-free 2018. 
 
 
Thank you for visiting the Edison Insurance Company Blog. Keeping your family and home safe and protected is our number one priority. Edison Insurance Company has taken a bright and innovative approach to Florida homeowners insurance with coverage options allowing you to customize a policy to best fit your needs. To learn more about us, or to receive a personalized home insurance quote, visit our website

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