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Thinking about home renovations? Va. regulators warning of driveway paving scam

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Posted at 9:22 AM, Mar 28, 2023

NORFOLK, Va. - The more time you spend outside, the more you may notice that things need to be fixed at your home.

If you're considering getting your driveway repaved, don't trust just anyone with the job.

There are people who appear to be contractors and go door-to-door asking for your business. They'll promise great deals and then, often times, fall flat in what state regulators call the driveway scam.

So how does it work? A "contractor" knocks on your door and says they are doing work down the street. They'll point out cracks in your driveway or sidewalk and say since they're already in the neighborhood, they can give you a discount.

In most cases they'll as for a large deposit up front, in cash.

Regulators say once the "contractor" has the money, they either start a little bit of the work or just disappear, which can leave a homeowner without options for help.

Kerri O'Brien works for the Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation, which is the state department that regulates licensed contractors.

"If you hire an unlicensed contractor and then there is a problem, our board may not be able to resolve your complaint and that could leave you with little or no recourse in case something goes wrong," said O'Brien.

She said there are a few things that you should always do when hiring someone to do work on your house.

"Get everything in writing, get that contract in writing, make sure it includes a start and finish date for the work. You also want to make sure you get any guarantees, warranties [or] promises from the contractor in writing, and save everything," said O'Brien.

Keeping proper documentation helps protect consumers if they need to take legal action. DPOR has the power to fine, suspend, or revoke a license from a contractor.

DPOR lists 10 tips for hiring a contractor:

  1. Ask friends and neighbors for referrals.
  2. Get three references, review past work.
  3. Get at least three written estimates. Don’t automatically go with the lowest bidder. Ask for explanations on the price variations.
  4. Insist on a detailed contract, including agreed-upon start and finish dates.
  5. Don’t rely on verbal agreements. Get all guarantees and warranties in writing.
  6. Don’t pay for the entire job upfront. Pay 10% down, or $1,000 whichever is less.
  7. Don’t make your final payment until you’re satisfied with job.
  8. Never pay in cash.
  9. Make sure any changes to the project are in writing and signed by you and your contractor.
  10. Keep good records. Save copies of the contract, invoices, change orders and all correspondence with your contractor.

The state also has a license lookup where people can check if a business is legitimate and if there are any other complaints against them.

If you've been scammed or are having trouble with a contractor not doing the work they promised, or any other consumers issues, the Problem Solvers will look into it for you. Email problemsolvers@wtkr.com.