Ohio Scam Shows Homeowners the Importance of Selecting Contractors Carefully

The Better Business Bureau recently warned homeowners about a Columbus contractor that has allegedly taken money from homeowners in exchange for work that was never completed. The story illustrates the problems that can arise if homeowners don’t verify the credentials and integrity of contractors.

Background on the Story

On Thursday, 10TV reported that the Better Business Bureau warned Columbus homeowners that a local contractor was taking payment for home improvement services and never completing them. The contractor allegedly approached Darryl Sheppard after a story caused extensive damage to his property and offered to make the necessary repairs. The homeowner in question paid him $2,000 but was never contacted again.

The contractor reportedly has a longstanding record of swindling local homeowners. In 2013, he took payments under the brand name AC’s Home Restoration and never conducted any work. The Better Business Bureau has given him an “F” rating, but he still continues to dupe unsuspecting homeowners.

The contractor has responded to the accusations against him. He assumed some responsibility for mistakes that he has made in the past, but insists that the accusations aren’t entirely accurate. He pledged to resume work on Sheppard’s property.

Lessons from the Recent Scandal

The recent scandal shows that homeowners need to be cautious while choosing a contractor. Here are some important takeaways from the story.

Always Do a Background Check

You need to thoroughly research any professional before signing a contract or handing them money. The contractor in this case was a repeat offender, so the homeowners that he scammed would have known to avoid him if they did a background search.

Be Cautious of Contractors Knocking on Your Door

Joan Coughlin, a spokeswoman for the Better Business Bureau of Central Ohio, warns against working with contractors that knock on your doors. Credible contractors expect people to seek them out and you won’t have trouble finding one if you do a simple Google search or ask for recommendations.

Seek a Small Down Payment

You should always negotiate down payments before agreeing to hire a contractor. The general rule of thumb is that you shouldn’t pay more than a third of the cost of the project, but you may be able to receive a lower down payment if you work with a reasonable contractor and the cost of the project isn’t very high.

Get Everything in Writing

This may seem obvious, but many homeowners fail to get agreements in writing beforehand. This is particularly risky if you are planning on making a large down payment first. The contractor should stipulate the exact specifications of the work that you need done and the time it must be completed.