Consumer Watch: What To Leave Out Of A Contract

Friday, October 26th 2012, 10:48 pm
By: News 9

Our Consumer Watch Team talks all the time about what should be in a home repair contract to protect you, but what about what shouldn't in a contract? Or how the name of a company can cause you issues down the road.

News 9 has learned four little-known facts that can save us money and headaches in the future.

Phae Howard learned about contractor fraud the hard way.

"My grandmother was ripped off by a contractor and that really pissed me off," Howard said. "And I said I'm going to do everything I can to make sure I help homeowners to avoid becoming a victim."

Howard started ‘The National Center for the Prevention of Home Improvement Fraud' to protect you and me. The Consumer Watch Team attended one of their meetings and learned some valuable advice:

* Make sure the full legal name of the company is written on the contract, not a shortened version.  You can get that from the Secretary of State.

* Before work begins, get a lien release from the contractor.  It's a legal document that shows subcontractors and suppliers have been paid.

* Avoid arbitration clauses. If there's a contract dispute, a third party gets involved. That's usually not in our best interest.

* Include a specific deadline. If that time comes and the work isn't complete, the contract can be terminated and we can hire another company.

And a bonus tip: Howard says never pay a dime up front. Making gradual payments through the project is okay, as long as we're not paying more than the work that's completed.

Read about more ways you can prevent home improvement rip offs.