BBB warns of home improvement scams

Published 6:14 pm Sunday, July 29, 2018

RALEIGH — According to Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies, American homeowners spent an estimated $383.3 billion on home improvements in 2017. With summer being a popular time for homeowners to begin prepping for the upcoming season, Better Business Bureau serving Eastern North Carolina (BBB) is cautioning consumers to be alert of scammers targeting homeowners.

“During the warmer months, BBB receives an increase of reported door-to-door scams,” says Mallory Wojciechowski, president and CEO of Better Business Bureau serving Eastern NC. “Before hiring a contractor to do work on your home, do your homework ahead of time to ensure you are dealing with a trustworthy professional.”

In 2017, BBB received over 4,300 complaints nationwide for home improvement companies. BBB advises homeowners to be wary of contractors who promise work at heavily discounted prices or travel door-to-door claiming they’re doing work in the neighborhood. If it ends up being a scam, the scammer will either take your money and run or provide subpar service.

Common home repair scams to look out for:


Chimney and Roof Repairs. Scammers disguised as chimney sweeps will tell you your chimney needs to be inspected, and then use hard sales tactics to get you to make expensive, unfounded repairs. Don’t fall for it.

Gutter Cleaning. Fraudulent gutter cleaners tend to prey on the elderly or those who cannot clean their gutters easily. They will claim they have worked in the neighborhood before and quote you a very low estimate in return for shoddy, incomplete work.

Energy Audits and Door-to-Door Furnace Repairs. Many scammers offer a “free” energy audit to reduce heating costs, claiming to be a representative from your local utility company. They insist on costly upgrades for your attic, such as solar blankets or insulation, and may or may not burglarize your home while conducting the audit.

Duct Work Cleaning. Duct work cleaning is rarely a necessity, so take caution. Scammers are known to damage your heating system while cleaning it in order to leech more money out of you for repairs. They also may create indoor air hazards.

Before hiring a contractor BBB recommends the following tips:

  • Do your research. Never make an on the spot decision. Head to to get more information on the company and read past customer reviews and complaints. To find a reputable contractor, check out BBB’s Accredited Business Directory.
  • Check out licenses. Be sure to check if the business is properly licensed in North Carolina. It’s also important that any business you hire is properly insured if working on your home.
  • Get multiple estimates. Before accepting an estimate, get at least three bids or quotes in writing. Be wary of estimates that are extremely low. While, as consumers, we want to save money, it is important to realize the contractor does still need to earn money and often times scammers will offer extremely low prices to entice business.
  • Ask for references. Ask for at least two or three references from the business’s last few jobs and ask questions about the quality of work, if it was within budget and on time, and to the customer’s satisfaction.
  • Get everything in writing. Do not sign a contract until you have read through it entirely. If you made verbal agreements, they should be included in the written contract. Any deposit or payment plans should be included, as well as, any warranties or guarantees.

For more information you can trust, visit

Better Business Bureau serving Eastern North Carolina is a 501(c)(6) not-for-profit corporation serving 33 counties in eastern North Carolina. The organization is funded primarily by BBB Accredited Business fees from over 3,700 local businesses and professional firms. BBB promotes integrity, consumer confidence and business ethics through business self-regulation in the local marketplace. Services provided by BBB include reports on companies and charitable organizations, general monitoring of advertising in the marketplace, consumer/business education programs and dispute resolution services. All services are provided at no cost to the public, with the occasional exception of mediation and arbitration. Visit