It is possible, but you have to prepare yourself. For more than the past month, I've been investigating what happened to the Thrash family. They hired a man to paint their house and replace an old dishwasher-- but he did very little work before disappearing with over $500. Clearly, not what they had in mind.
For their full story, watch the included video.
But there are some things you can do to lessen the chances of getting stuck with a scammer. First of all, do your homework. There are great websites, like Angie's List and the Better Business Bureau. If it's a truly small business without much of an online footprint, ask the contractor for references. He or she should be able to give you three names and numbers that you can call. Make sure they aren't jobs in progress-- you want to hear from people who have had good work completed.
When it comes to money, don't do what the Thrash's did. They paid their contractor more than half the contracted price, and gave him money for supplies. John Corcorran of Sterling Creek Properties works with contractors every day. He says never pay money up front-- only pay them based on the percentage of work they have done. For example, if it's a $1000 contract, and 10% of the work is complete, then the contractor has earned $100. If the person asks for supplies, say he or she will get the money after the supplies are bought and on your property (where they should stay).
By following these simple rules, you can breathe easy in knowing that you are protecting your money AND hiring a quality contractor.
Are you having contractor problems? What about other issues you may have? Write me at email@example.com or call the new Working For You Hotline at 806-745-2744.