Don’t Be a Victim of These Contractor Scams
The recent popularity in do-it-yourself repairs and renovations has many homeowners rolling up their sleeves and getting to work. Replacing a faucet may be easy, but installing a roof or dishwasher can be daunting.
These larger projects are better left to the professionals, but hiring a contractor can be a job in itself. Protect yourself from less-than-honest contractors by watching for these telltale signs of fraud.
A knock on the front door
One prevalent scam occurs when a “contractor” not known to you offers to conduct a free inspection of your home. The contractor then “finds” serious problems. Of course, you want it fixed. And not only do you have to pay the scammer, you may have to make a claim on your homeowners insurance. Seniors and people without much repair knowledge can be susceptible to this scam.
If a contractor offers to negotiate your insurance claims, walk away. A contractor cannot ensure that your claim will be approved and no amount of negotiating will change this.
A reputable contractor lets you handle the insurance company.
A work in progress
If a contractor is in the process of repairing your home and asks you to file another claim, you may want to get a second opinion. Many contractors will agree to fix repairs cheaply and then intentionally cause more damage. If you agree, you may be participating in insurance fraud.
Make sure you aren’t duped into making unnecessary homeowners claims; do your research before hiring a contractor.
Successful businesses don’t go door to door. Check your insurance company’s recommended contractor list and the Better Business Bureau. Ensure your contractor has proper licensing.
Avoid being scammed, and that kitchen repair that was done properly and came in on time and on budget will make you happy every time you look at it.
A Peaceful Use of Drones: Aerial Videos
Unmanned aerial vehicles – nicknamed drones – have seamlessly made the leap from military to peaceful uses, attracting an entirely new (and wide) audience who just love them for their role in creating amazing aerial photography.
For under $1,000, enthusiasts can acquire remote-controlled cameras that take photos and video footage that would otherwise be impossible. These aerial cameras are producing videos that are attracting major attention online – like the one of a pack of wild coyotes running on a California hillside that accompanied a recent article in the online magazine, The Week. Trend watchers are calling for an “explosion” in drone-facilitated aerial photography.
In the past, bird’s-eye shots were only possible with expensive, inaccessible technology like that used in movies. But now, a host of inexpensive and easy-to-get products are available from $300 to $700. So anyone can take awe-inspiring photos and videos.
Of course, this technology isn’t without its cons; remote-control cameras make it easy to infringe upon someone’s privacy and that is an issue. But it will be difficult, if not impossible to impose strictures. Especially when the product is so amazing.
How to Make Your Family Fight to do the Laundry
Let’s face it, laundry isn’t one of our favorite household chores.
Compared to some of the more satisfying household tasks, such as dusting or vacuuming, doing the laundry just isn’t all that interesting.
It can be. If your laundry equipment is relegated to a corner of the kitchen or bathroom – or the dingy basement – no wonder laundry time is a chore, and family members don’t pitch in.
Whether you build a new laundry room or re-model a corner of your kitchen, your laundry space should be conveniently located, bright and well organized.
Here are some suggestions to make doing laundry fun for the whole family:
- Replace old appliances. Today’s high-efficiency equipment makes laundry day easier and saves on energy. New washers and dryers also look good and come in lots of colors. If you don’t have room for side-by-side appliances, think vertical; stackables are an effective use of space, and they do the job. However, you may find you do smaller loads more often.
- Storage is a must. If you’re on a budget, new or repurposed kitchen cabinets provide storage for all your necessities. A big box store wardrobe unit will give you lots of room to hang clothes, and a pull-down ironing board is a big space-saver. Don’t forget a shelf for folding.
- Dirty clothes have to go somewhere; consider a slide-out shelf to hold dirty clothes hampers.
- Make it fun and comfortable. These days, men are as likely as women to take on laundry duty, so make the space family friendly.
- A TV and a comfy chair for waiting out the dryer are great additions. Fresh paint will brighten up any space (even a dingy basement). Add framed posters, a book shelf and a good reading light.
- If possible, don’t scrimp on finishes. A show-stopper laundry room adds value to your home.
It’s Vacation Time: Does Your Insurance Cover Rental Cars?
So you’re going on vacation. Great! But don’t forget, if you’re renting a car, you still need insurance protection. Don’t wait to get to the checkout counter to think about coverage; you may be pressured into purchasing unnecessary rental insurance.
If you have comprehensive auto insurance, you might already have car rental coverage, but there could be stipulations. Play it safe; check your personal policy first.
Insurance companies may provide rental coverage only up to a certain amount. If the rental car is totaled, your policy may only reimburse the rental company for actual cash value. Many rental car contracts state that reimbursement should be for the full retail value.
While you’re reviewing contracts, ask your insurance agent if possible loss of use is covered. If your insurance policy includes a Use of Non-Owned Cars endorsement, you should be covered, but it’s important to know the coverage limits. If the rental company makes a claim for diminished value, your personal policy will not cover this.
Driver coverage is an important consideration, especially if you’re traveling out of town. Anyone listed on your policy should be covered, but for others be sure to check first.
If you’re traveling abroad and don’t have a comprehensive policy or a high deductible plan, you may need additional coverage. Many agencies require a credit card for purchase and, depending on the card, your rental may be covered. If not, bite the bullet and purchase the rental insurance.
It’s better to be safe than sorry, especially on vacation.