PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. - You can avoid becoming a victim of a home improvement scam by recognizing the warning signs: beware of any contractor that claims structural repairs don't require a permit. The contractor should pull the required building permits, not the homeowner.
Watch out for fly-by-night contractors who take deposits and do little or no work. Avoid dealing with anyone soliciting work door-to-door.
Be wary of any contractor who asks for payment in full up front. Deal only with a licensed and insured contractor. You can verify the license with your county's licensing board.
More advice from consumer experts: Require the contractor to give you a final affidavit indicating all of his subcontractors and suppliers are paid in full. If you don't and your contractor doesn't pay them, they may come knocking on your door looking for money later.
Be sure you have a written contract that details what work will be done and when it should be completed. Keep proof of your payment should you need it later and ensure that the contractor has had the work inspected by the building department before you make the final payment.
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