Don’t fall for reno scam artists

Don’t fall for reno scam artists

His name was Charlie. He had dark curls and a smile that would light up a room. He was charming and cheerful, a cool dude. He also had a shiny black truck with a nifty sign on it that said “Charlie’s Creations”.

He charged significantly less than the going rate for renovation, as long as you paid him cash. He had printed references and a book of photos showing some of his impressive work.

A homeowner in a well-established neighbourhood in Ottawa hired him to put in a new kitchen. A neighbour, seeing his truck parked next door, inquired and ended up hiring Charlie to add a new deck to the back of her house. Both homeowners paid him half down, with half promised when the job was done. It all looked great.

Two weeks later, when he hadn’t shown up to start the work, and when phone calls to him went unanswered, one of the neighbours decided to investigate. She found there was no such person. Charlie, if that was his real name, had vanished with about $60,000 in his pocket. The police said he was probably working his way through another region of the city, under another name, with a new sign on his truck.

There are dozens of Charlies. They’re everywhere. Sometimes they just vanish after you give them a down payment. Sometimes they rip up a room and then don’t come back to finish the work. Sometimes they do the work but with shoddy materials, and when things go wrong, they’re nowhere to be found. This is the renovation underground, and people still fall for it. Customers pay cash, so there’s no paper trail. If they supply phone numbers, they go unanswered, or they’re invented. These scam artists are criminals, but they’re hard to catch and convict.

They’re the extreme, to be sure, but they exist. Unless you hire a professional renovator who carries the RenoMark™ logo, you can’t be certain of who you’re getting. The only safe, sure renovation is one that comes with verifiable references, insurance, at least a two-year warranty, and confirmation that all the safety codes, licenses and permits are respected.

Don’t fall for the Fly-by-Nights, no matter how charming they are. Be safe and be sure. Hire a professional.



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