CLEVELAND -- Cuyahoga County is warning homeowners after getting several complaints about home improvement scams.

Cuyahoga County Sheriff Detective Phil Robinson warns everyone to be weary of anyone who offers a price too good to be true.

“A lot of people will approach you and offer you cut rate deals to fix your property and watch they will ask for money up front never see them again,” Robinson said.

Often scam contractors go door-to-door to solicit business. Big red flags include contractors who want all the money up front and those who use poor quality materials.

You can avoid fly-by-night home improvement scams by:

  • Shutting the door on contractors who show up unasked and offer you cheap work using leftover supplies from another job. Good contractors have to estimate materials accurately to stay in business. They don’t have “left over” asphalt, roof tiles, etc.
  • Getting estimates from several reputable contractors. That lets you know what a job really costs. People who bid way lower than the norm may be planning to use poor materials or not do any work.
  • Checking out a contractor or company before you sign a contract. Check the company’s reputation with the BBB to see if the company’s customers filed complaints. Ask neighbors and friends to recommend contractors they’ve used and liked.
  • Don’t agree to pay for all or most of the work in advance. For small jobs, pay when the work is done. For larger jobs, keep the down payment small and arrange to pay only when the work is finished to your satisfaction.
  • Make sure the contract has the contractor’s name, business address, contact information and signature. It also should have a start and finish date.
  • Make sure any spoken promises are reflected in the written contract. If they aren’t there, they may not stick.