Navigation Top
AGO Logo Graphic
AGO Header Image
File a Complaint
Contact the AGO
All Consuming
Return to main blog
Help! My tree has fallen and it can’t get up.

Help! My tree has fallen and it can’t get up.

(Scams) Permanent link

LotsOfSnowThe storm has passed and now we begin the process of assessing the damage and cleaning up the mess. At my home in Olympia, we had more than 15 inches of snow, which combined with thick ice brought down numerous branches and two entire trees.

Thankfully the trees didn’t fall on our house or cars, but we can’t just leave them lying in the yard. Like many of you, we need to hire someone to help. But how do we make sure we hire the right help and not a greedy dishonest scammer?

fallen_tree2Attorney General McKenna offered some advice: “Avoid contractors who demand payment in advance. Shop around for a fair quote, obtain all promises in writing, and always check with the Department of Labor and Industries to ensure a contractor is registered and bonded. Except for electricians, who must be licensed, and plumbers, who require certification, there isn’t a competency test to become a contractor in Washington. And while the vast majority of contractors are honest, there are a few unscrupulous ones who will try to take advantage of your desperation.”

Below are some tips to help you find a competent, reliable contractor and avoid potential rip-offs.

Check insurance policies and warranties:
Before you start work, check your insurance policies and warranties. You may be able to file a claim and get useful information from the claims adjuster. The warranty on your roof, for example, may require you to use a certain repair company. You can find tips on dealing with storm-related insurance claims on the Insurance Commissioner’s website.

Selecting a Contractor:

  • Seek referrals. Start with friends or neighbors. Home improvement stores and trade associations including the Master Builders Association can also be good resources. All contractors who do construction work in Washington must be registered with the state Department of Labor and Industries, post a bond and carry general liability insurance coverage. Check the L&I website at www.contractors.lni.wa.gov or call 1-800-647-0982.
  • Contact at least three reputable contractors and ask for references. If possible, visit other work sites when repairs are underway.
  • Solicit written bids from at least three qualified contractors that detail the scope of the work, the types of materials that will be used, and the total cost of the project.

Signing a Contract:

  • Once you’ve agreed on a bid, get it in writing. The contract should cover the work to be performed, total price including taxes and fees, materials to be used, start and completion dates, warranties, payment schedules, sign-off procedures, and cleanup. It should also explain how changes to the work will be handled. If your residential project costs at least $1,000, the contractor must give you a written disclosure statement that explains your rights and responsibilities.
  • If a contractor fails to pay a subcontractor, worker or supplier, you could be sued and have a lien placed on your property to satisfy the unpaid bill. Protect yourself by asking the project contractor for a lien release for all subcontractors and suppliers.
  • Don’t make the final payment until you are fully satisfied with the finished product and know that subcontractor or suppliers have been paid.

Red Flags:
Be wary of contractors who:

  • Solicit door to door.
  • Provide credentials or references that can’t be verified.
  • Pressure you for an immediate decision.
  • Accept only cash, require large deposits or require the entire cost up front. A deposit of 10-15 percent of the bid price is normally sufficient.
  • Don’t provide a written contract or complete bid.
  • Ask you to get required building permits. In most instances, the contractor is required to take out the permits.
    Offer exceptionally long warranties.
  • Offer an exceptionally low bid.
  • Suggest you borrow money from a lender the contractor knows; this could be a scam to get you to sign a home equity loan.

Additional information about hiring a contractor is available from:

Report an unregistered contractor to Labor and Industries by calling the agency’s fraud hotline at 1-888-811-5974 or file a complaint online at www.contractors.lni.wa.gov.

Report fraud to the Attorney General’s Office by filing a complaint online at https://fortress.wa.gov/atg/formhandler/ago/ComplaintForm.aspx or calling 1-800-551-4636.

Posted by Sarah Lane All Consuming Blog Moderator at 01/25/2012 04:10:29 PM | 


Lol. The title really grabbed me to read this post. Whoever wrote the head line did a great job.

Soon we're going to need Life Alert buttons for the poor trees, huh?
Posted by: Desiree Beats ( Email ) at 1/26/2012 5:45 PM


Lol. The title really made me read this post from top to bottom! Trees are all down here because of the snow too ^_^
Posted by: Farryson ( Email ) at 1/29/2012 11:10 AM


The title is good, but the information in the post is really important. You have to be careful with the contractor you hire or you can be taken for a ride!
Posted by: Jon ( Email ) at 2/9/2012 6:59 PM


yeah the topic really made me to read this post....
Posted by: nikky ( Email ) at 2/10/2012 7:26 AM


With 15 inches of snow i think you all coped well here in the uk if we have 3 inches the country comes to a standstill
ha ha some of your trees had a bad time though lol
Posted by: Garry ( Email ) at 2/10/2012 8:26 AM


Gosh, you are so lucky to have snow at all! Where I'm from, Asheville, we haven't even gotten a flake!

I can count on my hands the number of times the temperature has been under 30.
Posted by: Asheville ( Email ) at 2/10/2012 8:43 AM


Haven't had snow this year. You're lucky to have it!
Posted by: Jim ( Email ) at 2/10/2012 4:46 PM


I think finding a contractor (for any job) really should be done as described in this post.

I agree, too many scammers out there :(
Posted by: Emilia ( Email ) at 2/10/2012 7:04 PM


Good title! My trees never fall down haha maybe because we don't get much wind! It is important to select the right contacter
Posted by: Jacob Tarr ( Email ) at 2/12/2012 9:44 PM


Great information, particularly the red flags section.
Glad to hear your house and cars weren't damaged by the tree!
Posted by: Medic ( Email ) at 2/14/2012 7:38 PM


Good topic... and it attrected lot of attention it seems

cool :-)
Posted by: Amy ( Email ) at 2/15/2012 1:46 AM


I think you gave some really useful information about choosing the right contractor and you have also outlined the potential pitfalls as well.
Posted by: Mike ( Email ) at 2/16/2012 4:15 AM


I've always wondered why this particular industry attracts so many scammers.
Posted by: Hugo de la Haye ( Email ) at 2/16/2012 4:25 AM


Just a really great and precise article!
Posted by: Ryan ( Email ) at 2/19/2012 8:43 PM


Thanks for this good info...But red flags part was awesome..

Thanks again
Posted by: Ruby ( Email ) at 2/21/2012 7:46 AM


very nice title and very helpful content
Posted by: moetez ( Email ) at 2/23/2012 8:31 AM


The information from your article is very important, so i bookmarked it. Thanks.
Posted by: Braila ( Email ) at 2/26/2012 8:58 AM


This information is helpful when selecting any contractor. There are alot of scammers out there.
Posted by: John Wilcox ( Email ) at 5/4/2012 12:09 PM


The one thing I can't say that I miss about living up north is the damage that heavy snows can cause. Property damage can be ridiculous, not to mention the wrecks caused by icy roads.

Although, I guess I traded snow fall problems for hurricane problems by moving to the south.

Problem is, regardless of where you go, and whether you're dealing with snow or heavy winds and rain, there will always be grant chasers out there attempting to scam you out of your funds.
Posted by: Taylor ( Email ) at 5/9/2012 12:03 PM


Thanks For the Info
Posted by: Nick Q ( Email ) at 5/13/2012 7:09 AM


Are there really that many scammers? What about half now and half when they are finished? What happened to good people?
Posted by: John Thomas ( Email ) at 6/18/2012 9:22 PM


I think it's really important to understand your contract before signing anything
Posted by: jalantikus ( Email ) at 12/7/2012 2:21 AM


Appreciate the information. Thanks.
Posted by: Nathan Hari ( Email ) at 1/23/2013 1:07 AM


“Avoid contractors who demand payment in advance. Shop around for a fair quote, obtain all promises in writing, and always check with the Department of Labor and Industries to ensure a contractor is registered and bonded. Except for electricians, who must be licensed, and plumbers, who require certification, there isn’t a competency test to become a contractor in Washington. And while the vast majority of contractors are honest, there are a few unscrupulous ones who will try to take advantage of your desperation.”

Rightly said by the attorney. Do your due diligence before hiring anyone.
Posted by: Information Product System ( Email ) at 6/1/2013 3:51 PM


Be carefull when you hire a contractor, sometimes everything goes wrong if you do not pay extra attention to check BEFORE hiring.
Posted by: Tomas ( Email | Visit ) at 9/22/2013 12:09 PM


Nice advice while working with contractor
Posted by: Arin Marten ( Email | Visit ) at 10/5/2013 5:46 AM


Nice post and great article , cheers author for your helpful site
Posted by: Fremont plumbers ( Email | Visit ) at 10/7/2013 11:52 PM


great instructions will back again on this nice site
Posted by: ljamo ( Email ) at 1/28/2014 8:23 AM


WOW !!! What a nice blog and great article about plumbers
Posted by: CA plumbers ( Email ) at 2/11/2014 12:07 AM


thanks
Posted by: new phones ( Email ) at 2/14/2014 5:25 AM


Great post i like it very much thanks
Posted by: Cesar ( Email ) at 2/26/2014 11:30 PM


Thank you for the advice you listed above.
Posted by: Marrakech connexion ( Email ) at 3/19/2014 12:52 PM


Great Post ! and now i know it ! thanks sir :)
Posted by: Fauzi ( Email ) at 4/20/2014 3:50 PM


thanks great instructions will back again on this nice site
Posted by: obat herbal ( Email ) at 5/9/2014 4:44 AM


thanks appreciate it
Posted by: tunescool ( Email ) at 6/25/2014 7:24 AM


Nice advice while working with contracto
Posted by: oussama touzni ( Email ) at 7/19/2014 1:01 AM


Excellent information.
Posted by: Bob Saeedi ( Email ) at 11/12/2014 3:10 PM


Leave a comment
Name *
Email *
Homepage
Comment

All comments are reviewed to ensure compliance with our Blog Comment and Use Policy. Comments are generally posted within two business days. Send Feedback
Content Bottom Graphic
AGO Logo