Each spring, along with the forsythia and snow crocuses, comes a more disturbing rite of the season. That’s when thousands of homeowners are conned by contractors into paying for improvement projects that never see the light of day—or are so slipshod that they never should. As the mercury rises, so do complaints to consumer-affairs offices and attorneys general nationwide. In Illinois, for example, more than 3,000 cases of home-repair fraud are reported annually; Louisiana fields 500 complaints a month.
In the belief that the forewarned is the forearmed, we asked consumer advocates, home inspectors, and trusted builders to tell us about the most common come-ons they see and share their advice on how to avoid falling victim to one of these scams.