With the temperatures rising and summer fast approaching, you’re probably daydreaming of ways to stay cool. As you picture yourself lounging by the pool and eating popsicles, don’t forget about […]
You need a professional to help you with home repairs or renovation, but in most cases, hiring a professional means hiring a stranger. If the prospect frightens you, don’t worry—you can take steps to ensure the professional you invite inside is trustworthy. Follow these tips to keep your home and family safe.
Hire Honest Professionals
In general, most contractors are honest and trustworthy. You just have to do whatever you can ensure you’ve found the right person for the job. Take these steps:
- Check that your contractor has insurance. Insurance protects both you and your tradesperson if property damage occurs.
- Ask for references. Get in touch with recent customers and ask questions. How did their project turn out? Were they happy with the finished result? Did the contractor arrive on time and charge a reasonable price?
- Ensure the contractor has a local business address and landline. If the contractor only gives you a mobile telephone number, double check that it’s local, not long distance.
- Ask whether they belong to a trade association. While you can certainly find good tradespeople who don’tbelong to an association, those who do have verifiable credentials.
- Ask about guarantees and warranties. Most quality tradesmen offer warranties because they’re confident in their abilities and products. Plus, warranties can help you if you discover the contractor has made a mistake.
- Don’t pay the entire cost up front. A contractor might ask you to pay a deposit, but most reputable ones won’t ask for a huge chunk of the money in advance.
- Only agree to written contracts. Your contract should cover the project’s details, costs, and timeline. Go by the contract line by line before you sign.
Take Extra Precautions
Again, most contractors are honest, trustworthy workers. However, if you’re still anxious at the thought of someone else entering your home, you can take a few extra steps to feel safe:
- Don’t leave keys lying around. Be particularly careful with window and back door keys.
- Lock doors to private rooms. Unless your contractor needs access to them, lock your bedrooms and home offices.
- Tell your home insurance provider about your contractor work. If you don’t alert your insurance provider to the fact that you’re getting work done, they may not cover any losses or damage that occurs.
- Put away bank statements and bills. These documents make it easy for someone to steal your identity.
- Stay around the house while the contractor works. If at all possible, arrange for him or her to come over only when you’re home. If you can’t be at home during the contractor’s scheduled hours, ask a neighbor to periodically swing by and verify that everything is going well.
Once you’ve chosen a reliable tradesperson, follow these tips to ensure the project goes smoothly and safely from start to finish:
- Set a schedule. Make sure you always know when contractors will start and finish their work each day.
- Talk about bathroom usage. If you’re not comfortable with a contractor using your bathroom, let them know upfront so they can make other arrangements.
- Set clear expectations. Talk about key issues before the project starts so that a problem doesn’t come up halfway through.
Do you have other security tips for hiring a contractor to work on your home? Share in the comments section below!
Most home security tips are obvious: lock and bolt your doors whenever you leave the house, close and lock your windows, and install a high-quality home security system. But intuitive actions aren’t the only ones you can take to protect your home. Try the clever tricks below to make your home more secure than ever before.
- Add a Hidden Door
A few years ago, a YouTube user uploaded a video of her home that gave viewers a look at its secret entrance. The woman had added in a door that seamlessly blends in with the home’s siding. The handle is masked as the outdoor spigot that looks completely real but isn’t hooked up to the plumbing.
The door itself is made of sturdy, affordable fiberglass with a red cedar wood frame. Smartest of all, the door is automated so the homeowner can lock the deadbolt automatically from any room in the house.
- Hide Your Key in Uncommon Spots
By now, most people—including burglars—know about hollow rocks and upturned pots that mask keys. Instead of hiding your key in an obvious location, like under the mat or beneath or plastic rock, try these more creative hiding spots:
- A birdhouse. Hook the key beneath the birdhouse or right inside of it. Of course, the birdhouse trick only works if the birdhouse looks like a natural part of your yard, so fill it with seed that attracts local birds.
- The doghouse. If your dog has an outdoor kennel, find a clever spot inside to store the key. Just make sure your dog won’t be able to dig up and play with—or snack on—the key.
- Beneath the outdoor air conditioning unit. If there are gaps between the air conditioner’s cement base and the unit itself, you might be able to tuck a key out of sight.
- Leave Out Decoy Items
Most casual thieves only spend a few minutes inside a home. Unless they’ve spent time casing the property, they’ll usually break in when the owners are away, grab the most expensive items they see, and dash away.
Since thieves will snag the first items they come across, consider leaving out decoy items that thieves will snatch instead. For instance, if you have an old laptop you no longer use, consider setting it an obvious position on the kitchen island—thieves who don’t look particularly closely will nab the decoy computer instead of searching through your possessions for a better laptop.
Of course, this strategy only works if you put away your expensive items like laptops and jewelry before you leave the house.
Do you have other clever ideas for enhancing your home’s security? Share them in the comment section below!
In a perfect world, you could trust any salesperson who came to your doorstep. Unfortunately, not everyone who approaches you with a good bargain is exactly who they seem.
Every summer, homeowners fall victim to home security system scams and lose hundreds (or even thousands) of dollars to fake salespeople. In a worst-case scenario, a fake salesperson can use your information to either steal your identity or break into your home later to take expensive items.
Fortunately, it only takes following a few easy steps to avoid security scams. Follow these tips to stay safe:
- Always Ask for ID
Before you let any technician or salesperson inside your home, ask to see their credentials. All real employees should be able to verify their identities and prove that the work for the company they claim to represent.
If a salesperson becomes angry when you ask for identification or insists that identification isn’t necessary, you probably have a scam artist on your hands, not a legitimate salesperson.
- Get Several Written Quotes
A scam artist needs to make their sale as quickly as possible, so they’ll use whatever tactics they can to get you to purchase their equipment right away. They might give you a written quote if you insist, but because they need to leave quickly and with as much money as possible, they’ll probably give you one price and stick with it until you agree to the sale.
If you aren’t positive that your salesperson is a legitimate company representative, don’t make any purchases or sign any contracts. Instead, ask for a written quote. Then, take the time to compare the price the salesperson gives you with prices from similar companies. If the price was exorbitantly high, it probably didn’t come from a real security company employee.
- Ask Your Friends for Advice
Before you settle on a security company, talk to your friends, family members, and neighbors about their preferred home security system. Ask them about who installed the equipment, whether or not it was installed on time, and how effectively it works. Then, call the recommended company and ask any additional questions.
Friend referrals aren’t always helpful (for instance, you and your friends may have very different security needs), but they’re more reliable than salespeople who come to your door and try to commit you to a same-day sale.
- Be Wary of Anyone Who Insists You Need to Upgrade
If you display a security company’s sign on your property, you give yourself an edge over lazy burglars who only want to target easy-to-enter homes. However, canny con artists might see the sign and attempt to sell you “upgraded” security equipment from the same company.
Don’t trust anyone who claims to represent your current company unless the company already called. Chances are slim that your security company would send someone over to have you re-sign paperwork and pay a fee without talking to you about it first. And if your security system needed to be upgraded, your company would certainly explain why and give you different options before forcing you into a same-day purchase.
- Check the Company’s Licenses
If the salesperson came from a company you don’t recognize, ask to see the company’s license and check it with the Better Business Bureau or the state Attorney General’s office. If the company doesn’t have the correct licensing or if their license is out of date, don’t make any purchases.
See our blog post on how to tell if your ADT installer is real or fake to learn more. Do you have any comments or suggestions? Post them below!