Officials Remind Consumers to be Cautious Before Beginning Home Improvement, Driveway Resealing Projects
Do Your Research Before Starting Home Improvement Projects, Including Driveway Paving and Sealing, Avoid Fraud and Scams
AUGUST 3, 2021 – The Department of Consumer Protection (DCP) Commissioner Michelle H. Seagull and Attorney General William Tong are urging people to do their research and take steps to protect themselves from fraud and scams before beginning home improvement projects, especially driveway paving and sealing, which is a common scam this time of year.
DCP recently learned of a home improvement scam involving unregistered contractors who are traveling door-to-door and using high-pressure sales tactics to convince homeowners they need to have their driveway resealed. After pressuring the homeowner into paying a high price for driveway resealing, the unregistered contractor will use hot motor oil instead of the proper sealant to refinish the driveway. The oil washes away after a couple of rainstorms, polluting water systems and leaving the homeowner with an unfinished driveway.
DCP typically receives between 1,500 and 2,000 complaints about home improvement each year, and it is routinely the highest complaint area. So far in 2021, the department has received more than 500 complaints related to home improvement work.
“People spent more time in their homes last year and decided to complete projects they’d been putting off,” said DCP Commissioner Michelle H. Seagull. “As people continue those projects, scammers are also hard at work. There are many great home improvement contractors in the state, so be sure to do your research and save yourself the headache of a job done poorly or not at all.”
“After so many months in our homes, the demand for home improvement work is high right now,” said Attorney General William Tong. “Never trust your home to an unregistered contractor, and always be sure to check references. Never commit on the spot to an unsolicited sales pitch at your door. Don’t let a fraudulent contractor turn your dream project into a nightmare.”
Those who are considering home improvement projects should:
- Ensure their contractor is registered. Registrations can be verified at www.elicense.ct.gov. Hiring a registered contractor can help consumers gain access to the Home Improvement Guaranty Fund should something go wrong.
- Check for references. If a contractor won’t provide references upon request – that’s a red flag. Consumers should ask for references from those who have had projects similar to theirs (for example, if you wanted your bathroom updated, you wouldn’t ask for references from people who have put a new fence in their yard). Search online and on social media to see who others in your community recommend.
- Have a written contract – it’s the law. Contractors should never start work without a signed contract. Consumers should ask any questions they have before signing their contract to clarify things like project timeline and payment plan. Remember, you have a three-day right to cancel home improvement contracts in the State of Connecticut.
- Remember, if an offer sounds too good to be true – it probably is. If someone shows up at your door, and offers to give you a deal on work because they “just completed a job in your neighborhood, and have left-over supplies,” or are “offering a deal”, but only if you agree immediately, and provide a sizable down payment, don’t fall for it – it’s almost never the bargain you think it is.
- Check on the building permit. Check with your town building official to confirm a permit has been pulled by the contractor. Building officials should also check HIC registrations, adding a second layer of protection.
Home improvement contractors and skilled trades are credentialed with DCP, and consumers who have complaints may file with the department by visiting www.ct.gov/DCP/complaint.
To file a complaint with the Office of the Attorney General, visit www.dir.ct.gov/ag/complaint/.