TDCI Shares Consumer Safety, Scam Tips About Contractors and Home Construction ProjectsStay Safe and Learn the Red Flags of Home Contracting Scams
NASHVILLE – Spring renovation and remodeling projects are in full swing across Tennessee as homeowners who have been sheltering at home in order to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) are using their time to improve their homes and properties.
The Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance (TDCI) urges Tennesseans who may be starting home renovation projects to take extra care this year to protect themselves and their loved ones from inadvertently spreading COVID-19. Additionally, TDCI asks consumers to educate themselves about the best practices for hiring contractors and avoiding home improvement scammers who might use the pandemic and consumer uncertainty as an opportunity to line their own pockets.
“Whether Tennesseans are putting in their spring gardens or hiring a contractor for a remodeling job, I remind them that they should make their personal safety and the safety of others a top priority as we follow Governor Lee’s directive to shelter at home,” said TDCI Commissioner Hodgen Mainda. “For those who are working around the house or hiring others for home-improvement projects, our TDCI team has valuable information that can help make the process go smoothly and safely. If you have questions about any contracting issue, I urge Tennesseans to contact our team in our Division or Regulatory Boards.”
While working around the house, remember:
Remember COVID-19 Safety Tips
- Doing renovation work yourself? Take care. To stop the spread of COVID-19, TDCI urges consumers to abide by all federal and state health guidelines. Tennesseans should remain at home whenever possible. If shopping for building supplies, citizens follow social distancing practices by staying 6 to 10 feet apart, wearing cloth masks in public, and practicing good hygiene with frequent hand washing. If you feel sick, contact a physician about getting a test. And, if you tested positive for COVID-19, please refrain from going out in public while contagious. Staying at home saves lives.
- Hiring a contractor? Make sure to follow all social distancing protocols when meeting him or her in person and wear a cloth mask and gloves. If you are sick, inform the contractor so that precautions can be taken for their workers when they are working around your home and property.
- Was your home or business damaged during the March tornados in Middle Tennessee or the April tornados in Southeast Tennessee? Visit our website for more information about filing insurance claims and selecting a contractor.
Always Use A Licensed Contractor
- Remember that a contractor’s license is required before bidding or price negotiations when the total cost of the project is $25,000 or more.
- For work less than $25,000, check with your local government’s building codes office to confirm whether a contractor needs a state license or local license to perform home improvement, electrical, plumbing or HVAC work, as well as their permit requirements for inspections.
- Before selecting a professional, ensure they are properly licensed for the project by visiting verify.tn.gov.
- Get several bids and check references before committing to a contractor.
- Be wary of contractors selling repairs door-to-door, especially when they ask to receive payment upfront or offer deep discounts.
- Ask the contractor who will be performing the work: the contractor, his/her employee(s) or a subcontractor.
- Get a written contract that includes the company’s name, address, and telephone number. The contract should also include an anticipated start and completion date.
- Generally, do not pay more than 1/3 of the cost upfront and make sure you have the terms of payment in writing.
- Make sure the contractor is insured to cover workers’ compensation, damage and general liability insurance by requesting copies of the contractor’s insurance certificates showing a current effective date.
Avoid Contractor Scams
To avoid falling victim to deceptive sales tactics, TDCI reminds consumers to look out for common red flags, such as:
- A person going door-to-door selling their service.
- A person who offers services for a short time only, which makes consumers feel rushed and unable to research them properly.
- Unmarked trucks or vans, or a refusal or reluctance to set out complete and specific contract terms in writing.
- Being pressured to pay for more than a third of the cost upfront.
Check the complaint and disciplinary history of a contractor by contacting the Contractor’s Board by phone at (615) 741-8307 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Reports of closed complaints with disciplinary action can be found on our website: www.tn.gov/commerce.