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TDCI Offers Tips to Help Consumers Avoid Shoddy Spring Home Repairs

Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance - TDCINashville, TN – The arrival of spring has many Tennesseans turning their attention to home renovation and improvement projects.

To help homeowners make the most of their hard-earned money, the Tennessee Department of Commerce & Insurance (TDCI) shares tips on how to avoid common construction-related issues such as shoddy repair companies and problem contractors.

Spring is the time for Home Repairs.
Spring is the time for Home Repairs.

“The Department is dedicated to helping Tennesseans make smart, informed decisions,” said TDCI Deputy Commissioner Brian McCormack. “Before signing a contract to authorize any construction or repairs, we urge consumers to always conduct research and verify a professional’s credentials.”

TDCI’s Division of Consumer Affairs and the Tennessee Board for Licensing Contractors, a section of TDCI’s Regulatory Boards, offer the following consumer tools for selecting a contractor:

Start With Research

Check Your List

  • Only hire licensed contractors. Use TDCI’s online Verify tool to easily check licensure.
  • Ask the contractor who will be performing the work: contractor, his/her employee(s) or a subcontractor.
  • Get several bids. It’s best to get at least three bids and check references.                                                                 
  • 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.
  • Never pay more than one-third down and do not let the payments get ahead of the work.
  • Do not pay with cash.                                                                   
  • Never sign over your insurance check.
  • Make sure the contractor is insured to cover workers’ compensation, damage and general liability insurance.
  • Check with your local government for codes, permits, inspections and business licenses. Make sure the contractor obtains a permit for code inspections.
  • Check the contractor’s record with the Better Business Bureau in your area by visiting www.bbb.org
  • Avoid common red flags, such as:
    • A person going door-to-door selling their services.
    • A person who offers services for a short time only, which makes consumers feel rushed and unable to research the contractor.
    • 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 half of the cost upfront.

Remember

  • If you file a repair request through your home warranty plan, ask for the name of the business that will provide the repair service. Check out the business by contacting your local Better Business Bureau. Ask if previous complaints have been filed against the business.
  • Read customer reviews and ratings about the business designated by the home warranty to provide repairs. Red flags include customer complaints citing incomplete service, improper
    or unsuccessful repairs, delays in response from the business, trouble contacting the business and bad customer service.
  • To file a complaint about a contractor or home improvement company with the Tennessee Board for Licensing Contractors, visit us online or call 615.741.8307. To file a complaint against a repair company, visit www.tn.gov/consumer
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