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Educational Consumer Tips

27 Questions For Home Owners

Author: Rachel Gelb
Category: Home Improvement

The best way to avoid trouble with any business transaction is to be a knowledgeable consumer. Better Business Bureau has prepared the following 27 Questions For Homeowners to quiz your knowledge about remodeling, re-roofing, re-siding, waterproofing and other home improvements. Each question indicates an area in which complaints have been reported to BBB. Weigh every word carefully and check every question. If you already have an offer for the work compare it against the quiz and see if you should proceed. Regardless of all 27 Questions, if you find an advertiser is a "Bait" advertiser of any articles or services for the home, don't do business with them! Baiting is "Knocking" the advertised job or its unavailability. If they try to trick you by "Bait" advertising, the chances are they will try to trick you some other way too, for their profit and your loss. You can't trust a "Bait" Advertiser.

Remember : The reliability of the seller is a most important factor in the purchase of any article or service.

Check each "Yes" or "No," then by adding up the total of your "minuses," you will have an idea as to whether you are ready to proceed.

  1. Do you know name of salesperson and name and local address of company?
    Yes +_____ No -_____


  2. Do you know, or have you investigated to determine, before signing the contract, that the company is of good reputation, dependable, responsible?
    Yes +_____ No -_____


  3. Have you asked the salesperson or company for references? Yes +_____ No -_____


  4. Does salesperson try to "high pressure" you into signing a contract?
    Yes -_____ No +_____


  5. Has the company or salesperson represented to you that your home would be used for advertising purposes, as a model job, or show-house, or by display of their sign, and that for this you would be given a special price?
    Yes -_____ No +_____


  6. If any guarantee is given, is it in writing in the contract, clear and specific as to what it means and as to what will be done in event of trouble? Yes +_____ No -_____

  7. . In reference to long-time guarantees, have you reason to believe that the company will be in existence or financially able to or willing to fulfill the guarantee, 10, 15 or 20 years later?
    Yes +_____ No -_____


  8. Have you obtained more than one bid on the same job on exactly the same specifications? Yes +_____ No -_____


  9. Are the salesperson and company authorized to represent the manufacturer they claim to represent?
    Yes +_____ No -_____


  10. Does company provide liability and compensation insurance to protect you in event of accident?
    Yes +_____ No -_____


  11. Do you know what brand, grade or quality of siding or shingles or roofing this company will use?
    Yes +_____ No -_____


  12. Do you know by what bank or financing agency your contract or note would be financed?
    Yes +_____ No -_____


  13. Before signing a contract, have you consulted your own bank or financing agency about financing this job?
    Yes +_____ No -_____


  14. To arrange for an F.H.A. insured loan, or a loan from your bank, or by mortgage on your home, or by refinancing your mortgage, have you obtained estimates or quotations on the job, in order to consult the bank before signing a contract?
    Yes +_____ No -_____


  15. Has it been represented that F.H.A. has anything to do with performance of the company or guarantee of the job, other than merely insuring the loan granted by your bank?
    Yes -_____ No +_____


  16. If work is to be sublet, will you be protected against liens on your home?
    Yes +_____ No -_____


  17. Regarding any repairs for which you expect to collect insurance have you checked with the insurance company first, before signing a contract?
    Yes +_____ No -_____


  18. Does the contract contain the name and street address of company; specifications such as type and extent of work; when to be done or completed; areas; extras; description of materials such as quality, grade or name, weight, color, style, etc.; total cost, finance charges, annual percentage rate of interest, etc.?
    Yes +_____ No -_____


  19. Are the things you want done specified clearly in the contract?
    Yes +_____ No -_____


  20. Does the contract contain important verbal representations on which you depend?
    Yes +_____ No -_____


  21. Does the contract contain a provision for payment of damages by you if you cancel the contract? Yes -_____ No +_____


  22. Are you asked to sign the contract in blank? Yes -_____ No +_____


  23. Have you read and do you understand the contract completely before signing and are you to be given complete, readable copy signed by salesperson or company? Yes +____ No -_____


  24. Does your contract promise labor only, with you to pay in advance for or furnish all materials? Yes -_____ No +_____


  25. Are you asked to pay in advance, or to pay cash to a salesperson instead of by check or money order to the company itself? Yes -_____ No +_____


  26. If the contract is to be signed in your home, does it contain a three day recision or "cooling off" clause permitting you to cancel it without penalty?
    Yes +_____ No -_____


  27. Are you asked to sign a completion certificate for the job by appeal, threat, or trick, before the job is properly completed.
    Yes -_____ No +____



Watch for these schemes also: misrepresentation by linoleum or floor covering peddlers; exorbitant prices on worthless loads of fertilizer, loam, or peat moss; unknown incapable odd job repairmen; furnace repair scheme wherein your furnace is torn down and then you are told it is no good and that you need a new one; peddlers selling grass seed at exorbitant prices by misrepresentation; incapable appliance repairmen or those who take appliances and don't return them; unreliable termite or pest control operators; tricky contracts by any operators for any home repair or remodeling work; and bait advertisers of replacement or aluminum storm windows or other articles.


About the Author: Rachel Gelb is Communications and Marketing Manager for BBB serving Eastern Massachusetts, Maine, Rhode Island and Vermont. Find Rachel on Google +.

Questions and Comments

Question Submitted 5/29/2013

In regards to "baiting" what did you mean by Knocking?

BBB's Answer:

Baiting is "Knocking" the advertised job or its unavailability. If they try to trick you by "Bait" advertising, the chances are they will try to trick you some other way too, for their profit and your loss. You can't trust a "Bait" Advertiser.

Comment Submitted 8/21/2013

Good to know about how companies can steer one towards a costlier or more profitable job rather than the advertised one.

Comment Submitted 5/9/2014

This looks like a good survey! I have to put together a survey for people to answer for my English class. It is so we know how to do one and do research. ****************************************************************

Comment Submitted 6/13/2014

Very useful advice, would have been helpful prior to such instances as you describe on earlier occasions, not with the above workman!

Comment Submitted 10/14/2014

The survey needs to include..... "Will the sales person visit your house to inspect it BEFORE a quote is provided and before the work is done to avoid misunderstandings on the "scope of services to be provided" and a firm price for such services?"

Comment Submitted 2/6/2016

Very well done; I own a small home improvement business and this is a great tool that I will refer our future clients to. Thank you for providing this helpful information. One thing I might add would be for homeowner's to check to ensure that a contractor is fully licensed, before signing any home improvement contract. This is hugely important and may provide some recourse for homeowner's who find themselves working with those contractors who may not be reputable. Most contractors are licensed by the state in which their company is located. As a Maryland contractor, we are governed by the MHIC (Maryland Home Improvement Commission); while they are known to have extremely stringent guidelines, some states are not as difficult to obtain licensing from. However, it would be helpful, to homeowners in all states to find out who governs, or oversees, local contractors, and to ensure that all applicable licensing (and insurance) in in place prior to signing any contract.

Comment Submitted 4/20/2016

Great advice and great questions I would not have thought of? Also thank you to the Maryland Contractor for his great advice. We truly appreciate the access to all of the BBBs helpful cost saving and piece of mind informative clear to the point information.
Views expressed on this page are those of the individual author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Better Business Bureau.

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