Heritage Restoration, Inc.

Be Aware Of Scammers!

Scam artists use fear, prey on the vulnerable, and take advantage of the uninformed.  Contracting is a natural but unfortunate choice, using your building for their advantage.  A scammer is not a bad contractor.  A scammer never intends on doing the work or uses “snake oil” to make it look like they did.  A bad contractor either thinks they are doing good work and doesn’t, or lacks passion and doesn’t really care about what they do.  In the end, it’s the same result.  You do not get what you want or need, and have to pay even more to get the work done right.


I have little tolerance for intentionally bad or poorly thought out work, and scammers are the bottom of the barrel because they do not even try.  They take people’s trust, stomp on it, and make people have little faith in whole industry.  The scam is to give the impression of work, to take your money and make sure you have little recourse to reclaim your money, let alone fix what the mess they made.  These types of scammers are different than contractors specifying too much work, who are just unscrupulous.


No doubt, buildings can be dangerous.  There are many parts and functions that are unseen, only becoming a problem when people notice something different.  There can be a lot of things wrong but not necessarily dangerous.  We see them all the time, in every house.  Sometimes it is a matter of opinion, other times it’s science.  So when in doubt, get three opinions.  And never choose soley based on price.  Choose on experience, references and your gut.


Here are some ways to avoid scams:

  • Do not pay cash unless you get a receipt.  Better yet, use a check.
  • Never pay a deposit more than is reasonable.  Small jobs under $2,000.00 may get ½ down.  Over that, maybe 10-30%.  If you are skittish, pay enough to get them there, that’s it.
  • Get a permit.  Think of a permit as professional oversight.  They are not a burden unless you are doing something wrong.  They are there to protect you, after all.  Building departments can be very reasonable.  Yes, some requirements can get ridiculous, but remember, regulations are made from good science and the stupidity of bad contractors.
  • Check for a business/contractor registration and certifications.  It is way too easy to get a contractor’s registration in Rhode Island, which is perhaps the best reason for a contractor to have one.  Many specialties require certifications, like chimney sweeps, electricians, and plumbers.
  • Get a copy of their liability insurance.  Ask to be an additionally insured, where you are notified when their insurance is dropped or changed.  And talk to your homeowner’s insurance agent before you start work.
  • Get a proposal that describes what exactly they will be doing.  Don’t let them just say “replace roof”.   A detailed, more expensive proposal may mean they are doing more work than a one liner.  A detailed proposal also makes them accountable for what you thought they would do.
  • Ask for 4 references and recently completed project addresses.  Ask questions like:
    • “Did they finish on time and on budget?”
    • “Did they show up when they said they would?”
    • “Where they clean and respectful?”
    • Hire an independent inspector to look at the work before, during and after.  They are required for any LEED certified project, so why not you?
    • Hire a lawyer to do some background checking.  They can check registrations, insurance, credit ratings, bankruptcy and lawsuit history.


Some recent scams include chimney sweeps, driveway repaving, and even post-storm repair work.  What to look for?  Anything too good to be true, like a really low price, or someone who shows up right when you need them, or you are desperate.  And if you are scammed, contact every government department you can, the paper and post it everywhere.


Some government resources:

  • RI Contractors and Registration Board
  • RI Attorney General’s Office
  • RI Department of Elderly Affairs


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