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Consumer LAW PA Consumer LAW PA
  • Serving the Philadelphia Metropolitan Area
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Is It Bad If a Home Contractor Asks You to Pay a Deposit?


Do you have enough money sitting in your bank account right now to replace your roof or replace broken pipes and repair the damage they caused?  You probably do not, because most Americans do not have $400 of available funds to cover an unexpected expense, and all home repairs except the most minor ones cost more than $400.  Therefore, most home contractors accept payment in installments.  You should do your due diligence before hiring a home contractor.  Ask the contracting company to show you its proof of licenses and insurance, and research complaints that customers have made to the Better Business Bureau about the company or reviews that they have written online.  Even if you do your research, and everything seems fine when you meet with the contractor and get a written estimate, problems sometimes arise only after you have made the first installment payment and the contractor has begun work, or promised to do so.  If a contractor ghosted you after you made the first payment on a home repair or renovation project, contact a Philadelphia home contractor fraud lawyer.

Why Do Home Improvement Contractors Ask Customers to Pay Non-Refundable Deposits?

Even if the cost of the project is modest, home contractors often ask customers to pay a deposit before they begin work.  They use this deposit to buy materials for the project, so how soon they can begin work on the project depends on how long it takes the materials to arrive.  Contractors must buy materials individually for each project; they cannot just keep materials on hand in their shed, next to the toolbox.  This is one of the reasons that no two estimates are alike, not even when a contractor makes similar repairs to different houses.  Therefore, it is a red flag if the contractor does not give you an itemized estimate for materials and asks you to pay for them upfront.

It Is Bad News If the Contractor Stops Answering Your Calls

It is normal for a contractor to collect a deposit and then come back a few days or a few weeks later to begin the work.  It is not normal for the contractor to collect a deposit and then disappear.  The contractor can even face criminal charges.  Richard Baptie of White Oak, Pennsylvania is currently facing charges for theft by deception, among other offenses.  He allegedly collected a $4000 deposit from a customer who hired Baptie to replace the roof of his house; the purpose of the deposit was to buy materials for the project.  Baptie made an appointment with the customer to begin work, but then he canceled the appointment, and the customer was unable to reach him after that.

Contact Louis S. Schwartz About Protecting Yourself Against Home Contractor Fraud

A Philadelphia consumer law attorney can help protect you against deceptive practices by home construction contractors.  Contact Louis S. Schwartz at to set up a free, confidential consultation.


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