How Nevadans can protect themselves from contractor scams (opinion)
Special to the NNBV
CARSON CITY, Nev. — As fall nears and local residents prepare to winterize their homes, the Nevada State Contractors Board warns homeowners — especially older adults — that home repair scammers may be frequenting neighborhoods looking to take advantage of unsuspecting residents.
It’s unfortunate, but seniors in our communities are often targeted for several reasons. Retirees are more likely to be home during the day, when solicitors are active.
Many older Nevadans have worked hard for 40 years or more to build nest eggs that are attractive targets for rip-off artists posing as contractors. Additionally, mobility or other physical restrictions may limit their ability to perform home maintenance themselves.
Hiring only licensed Nevada contractors is the best way for homeowners to protect themselves, as the Contractors Board is able to investigate any complaints into workmanship concerns or related matters up to four years after the date the work was performed.
Residents can verify licenses by calling the Board’s Reno office at 775-688-1141, or visiting its website, http://www.nscb.nv.gov, and clicking “License Searches.”
Unlicensed people may approach homeowners working in their yards, gardens or garages to offer work such as driveway sealing, roof repairs or weatherproofing. While some licensed, reputable contractors may use door-to-door salespeople, homeowners should be wary of such an approach.
Other tactics involve high-pressure sales pitches that promise great “today-only” deals using leftover material from a previous or similar job and demands for large cash down payments.
Legitimate contractors will not pressure customers to agree to work without affording them time to do some research or obtain multiple bids. It’s important to take your time, obtain a few estimates from licensed contractors and insist on a written contract, which should include details such as the scope of work to be performed, total project cost, start and completion dates, payment schedule and materials to be used, including brands, colors, sizes, quantities and stock numbers, among other details that may be discussed.
Always make sure you understand everything in the contract before signing, and never hesitate to have a third party look the contract over on your behalf first.
Lastly, the Contractors Board encourages all persons pay with check or credit card to ensure a record of the transaction and to receive the added protections from your financial institutions — paying with cash is never recommended, especially large down payments before any work is performed.
Nevada’s Residential Recovery Fund is one of the best arguments for hiring licensed Nevada contractors. Owners of single-family residences who are harmed by licensed contractors because of poor workmanship or abandoned projects may be eligible to receive up to $35,000 from the Recovery Fund to make needed repairs.
Lastly, it’s important to remember all licensed contractors have demonstrated at least four years’ experience in their trade. They have passed relevant trade, business and law exams required of the state, and the Contractors Board has verified their financial fitness to perform work within their monetary limit. Each licensee has undergone a criminal background check and had any character issues that may pose a concern to the public vetted before receiving their license.
The Contractors Board’s primary mission is to protect the public’s health, safety, and welfare. We make every effort to ensure our licensees comply with the laws and regulations that govern their practice in hopes that every homeowner will have a positive experience when it comes time for that home repair or remodel project.
Margi Grein is Executive Officer of the Nevada State Contractors Board. Visit http://www.nvcontractorsboard.com to learn more.
“I point out many cases of where privately owned companies do just as bad a job as publicly owned companies,” says Reno resident and former teacher Robert (R.D.) Gardner.