Four Fall Rip-Offs: Beware the Scams of Home improvement

tape measure
tape measure

With winter on the way, it's a good time to check your home's exterior and prepare for a secure season indoors. Unfortunately, it's also a season when wily construction con artists come out of the woodwork to play into your deepest, darkest fears with tales of damaging doom that can cost you a bundle.

Hearing you have a faulty roof over your head, or experiencing a flooded basement that might cause toxic mold to grow wildly in your house can indeed be a big worry, but beware of the source. High-pressure, high-panic, home improvement pitches that evolve from unsolicited calls or scheduled visits by service people all have the same target: your wallet.

Here are four fall rip-offs to watch out for:

  • Roofing Rip-offs: Roof leaks seldom require complete roof replacement. Despite this, roofers hired to fix the roof too often use the opportunity to turn a minor repair into a major replacement project. Real pros will provide a thorough assessment of repair needs, an appropriate recommendation for work to be done, and a detailed estimate for your review and approval.

  • Chimney Sweep Scams: Between the limited equipment needed to do the job and the very real dangers of chimney neglect, it's unfortunately pretty easy for unscrupulous chimney-cleaning contractors to stay in business. They'll typically launch into the standard, reasonably priced annual inspection and cleaning and then "discover" that your chimney desperately needs a new liner or other major safety fix, projects that end up lining their own pockets with thousands of dollars. To avoid these panic peddlers, start out by hiring a highly recommended, experienced sweep certified by the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA). If you cross paths with one who isn't, forgo any recommended repairs until an unbiased expert such as a professional home inspector can make their own assessment.