TDCI warns of home improvement, repair scams

NASHVILLE, The Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance is reminding homeowners to watch for home improvement scams this spring.

According to a news release, TDCI and the Tennessee Board for Licensing Contractors are reminding residents of steps they can take to hire reputable contractors.

Consumers can check the complaint and disciplinary history of a contractor through the Board for Licensing Contractors by calling (800) 544-7693 or (615) 741-8307, or by emailing [email protected]

To file a complaint, click here.

Tennessee’s felony theft law covers consumers when a contractor takes money and does not perform work within 90 days, according to the release. For more information, click here.

Residents are also reminded of the following:

  • A contractor’s license is required before bidding or price negotiations on projects of $25,000 or more.
  • For projects under $25,000, check with your local government’s building codes office to confirm if a contractor needs a state or local license to perform home improvement, electrical, plumbing or HVAC work, and their permit requirements for inspections.
  • Ensure they are properly licensed here.
  • Get several bids and check references before committing
  • Be wary of contracts selling door-to-door repairs, especially when asked for payment up front or deep discounts.
  • Ask who will be performing work (contractor, employee or subcontractor)
  • Get a written contract with contractor’s name, address, phone number, anticipated state and completion date.
  • Tennessee’s Home Improvement law prohibits contractors from asking for a down payment of more than 1/3 of the total contract.
  • Make sure the contractor is insured and ask for copies of certificates showing a current effective date.
  • Never pay with cash or the total charge before the work is complete.

To avoid being the victim of deceptive tactics, watch for these red flags:

  • An unlicensed person going door-to-door
  • A person who uses high-pressure sales tactics
  • Avoid working with someone in unmarked trucks or vans, and refuses to set out complete or specific contract terms in writing.