Illinois 2020

“Know Your Consumer Rights”

So, it’s finally time to get to all the roofing and masonry projects around your home. That means meeting with contractors, but how do you know if you’re asking the right questions? Roofing and masonry services aren’t cheap, so how best to protect your investment? Knowing your right, that’s how. Read on to learn more about your rights and how to avoid fraud in your dealings with roofing and masonry contractors.

If you believe you may have been the victim of fraud, or if you have concerns about a contract you’ve been presented, you can call the Consumer Fraud Hotline at the Illinois Attorney General’s Office. These numbers are provided below:

Consumer Fraud Hotlines:

Springfield: (800) 243-0618 TTY: (877) 844-5461
Chicago: (800) 386-5438 TTY: (800) 964-3013
Carbondale: (800) 243-0607

According to the Illinois Attorney General’s Office, there are some criteria you can use, as well as tips to follow, that will prepare you for your next interaction with a roofing and masonry contractor. We’ve summarized the checklist for you below, but you can view the original “Know Your Rights 2020” pamphlet by clicking Home Repair Know Your Rights. Source:

Step 1: Learn the Contract Basics

  1. You need to get everything in writing – everything. That goes for quotes and estimates, warranties and guarantees. Getting it all down on paper eliminates misunderstandings before they even begin.
  2. Beware pushy salespeople! Any roofer or mason worth their salt will not try to push you into signing a contract, ever. Good contractors don’t rush paperwork, just as they don’t rush the actual work. They understand timelines and their impact on the best possible results – both in roofing and decision-making.
  3. Never, ever, in a million years never sign a contract with blank spaces anywhere in its contents. These can be filled in after you sign and tie you to things never agreed upon. Any contractor that tries this should be avoided at all costs.
  4. If you don’t completely understand a contract, don’t sign it. It’s fine to keep the contract and review it on your own time before signing. A good contractor wants you to be comfortable throughout the process. Pushy sales tactics and rushed contract demands are signs of trouble. Choose a contractor who respects your timetables.
  5. In Illinois, you have three (3) business days to cancel any contract if the sale was made at your home. Remember it! Your contractor can’t do anything to deprive you of this right. They can’t initiate work. They can’t sell your contract to a lender. They can’t do a thing, legitimate or otherwise for three days after agreement.
  6. If your contractor does business under a name other than their real name, the business name must either be incorporated or registered under the Assumed Business Name Act. Check with the Illinois Secretary of State to see if they’ve been legally registered.
  7. You need to check with your local City and County governments to determine if there are any local building permits or inspections necessary for the work you’re planning. A reputable contractor should be able to provide this information without delay.

Step 2: Understand the Reputation of the Contractor

  1. Discuss any and all guarantees with your contractor prior to signing the contract. Get any and all guarantees in writing before any work commences.
  2. Check the contractor’s insurance policies. Do they even have the right coverage for the job they’re quoting? This is vital in case something happens to affect the project, its timelines, the home, its stability, or its habitability. With insurance in place, you’ll be compensated if anything unforeseen takes place.
  3. Do not, under any circumstances, sign a certificate of completion or make final payment on your project until all the work has been completed to your satisfaction. Never let yourself be pressured into signing anything – period.
  4. Remember – homeowners need to know who provides the supplies and labor for the roofing and masonry projects performed on their home. Suppliers and subcontractors have a right to file liens against your home if the contractor fails to pay them. You can avoid this completely by requesting lien waivers from the general contractor.

Step 3:  Understanding Contract Lingo to Hold Intelligent Conversations When Negotiating

  1. Take some time to familiarize yourself with the basics of the service you’re going to have completed. You can avoid 90% of fraud by sounding knowledgeable in your interactions with a contractor.
  2. All contracts should contain the contractor’s full name, their complete address, and their business phone number. Illinois law states that a contractor must inform you of any address change that takes place between the time of beginning and completing your project.
  3. Make sure the contract full describes all the work included in your project. Double check to be sure it’s there and clearly explained.
  4. The contract must contain the start date and the estimated completion date of the project. That means the day they’ll start real work on your property and the date they estimate they’ll be finished.
  5. Obviously, you want to be certain that the total cost of the project is included in the contract. It should be nice and clear to anyone viewing the contract. Again, make sure there are no blank spaces anywhere in the document!
  6. The contract should contain a listed schedule and method of payment. It must list the down payment date and amount, subsequent payment dates and amounts, and a final payment date and amount.
  7. Check for an included clause that governs termination of the contract by either party. Contractors must be paid for work completed at time of cancellation, but, should the contractor fail to start or complete the work within the contracted time, the homeowner may cancel the contract and seek a refund for their down payment and any other payments made towards the work. This is requested by written demand delivered via certified mail.

Step #4: Understand Fraud & How to Protect Yourself

  1. Again, we come back to avoiding pushy door-to-door salespeople at all costs. This is the Golden Rule of dealing with contractors. Remember it and you’ll always do well in your interactions.
  2. If you’re offered a price that’s so low even you do a doubletake, walk away from the contractor and never look back. Trunk-slammers should not do masonry and roofing work.
  3. Steer clear of contractors that list only a phone number or P.O. Box. What’s the point of not providing an address – even if it’s a personal residence? Seems like a way to hide things and that’s not who you want to work with, is it? That’s a hard no.
  4. Beware the contractor with “decades of experience”, but zero customer references to share upon request. Honestly, it’s the most obvious giveaway that they’re hiding something, so toss their card in the trash and move along.
  5. Never, ever allow someone into your home without verifying they are who they say they are, and they’re really affiliated with the contractor. Are they in a work vehicle? Do they have branded merchandise on their person? If you have any doubts at all, call the contractor’s office and verify identity directly with staff.
  6. How often do you pay for things – especially expensive things – with cash? If you’re like most people today, probably rarely, if ever. With services like Zelle and PayPal, why would you need it to cover contractor charges? Or, even pay with a check if you don’t have to? Cash payment demands are suspicious and should give you an indication that something’s not quite right with this contractor. Online payments mean online records of the transaction, and protect you against malfeasance, so always pay with a credit card or digital option if possible.
  7. Do not – we repeat – do not allow a contractor to try to drive you to a banking institution to withdraw funds for payment of part or all your contract. Banking is personal business and the contractor has no right to request this. 99% of reputable contractors will accept payment in digital form using credit, debit, Zelle or PayPal.

With the checklist we’ve summarized above in-hand, you should have no issues finding the ideal contractor for your next roofing and/or masonry project. You can always save time and energy by calling (312) 439-0556 and working with Chicago’s top-rated roofing and masonry contractor – Roofing by Hernandez.

As stated in the beginning of this article, if you feel that you’ve been cheated or defrauded by a contractor, bring it to the attention of the State’s Attorney or Illinois Attorney General’s Office immediately by calling one of the numbers below.

Consumer Fraud Hotlines:

Springfield: (800) 243-0618 TTY: (877) 844-5461
Chicago: (800) 386-5438 TTY: (800) 964-3013
Carbondale: (800) 243-0607

Toll-Free Information Lines:

Carbondale: (800) 243-0607
Springfield: (800) 243-0618
Chicago: (800) 386-5438
TTY: (800) 964-3013

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