From total scam artists who will take your money and skip town without doing work to contractors who just do shoddy work, there are all kinds of bad things that can happen when you don’t carefully vet the contractors you hire for home improvement work. The Better Businesses Bureau (BBB) offers the following tips to homeowners so they can avoid these kinds of scams.
Obtain a written contract and read it carefully
A written contract is your greatest protection from a home improvement scam. This contract should be thorough and should include a detailed explanation of all the work to be done, the materials that will be used for the project, an estimated timeline of the project including an estimated completion date, as well as an agreed upon price and method of payment. Make sure to read over the contract before signing and clarify anything you don’t understand. Also make sure to obtain a copy of the contract.
Get several investments before making a decision
It’s a mistake to simply go with the first contractor who can give you an estimate. Getting at least three or four estimates allows you to compare them to each other and make a more informed decision. If an estimate is considerably higher for no discernable reason, it’s probably a contractor you don’t want to work with. Don’t just go with the least expensive estimate by default either. Contractors who give suspiciously low bids are often trying to get the contract and then drive up the price during the course of the project. A low bid may also be a sign that the contractor will cut corners or use inferior materials.
Watch for red flags
There are a number of things that should give homeowners cause for alarm. High pressure sales tactics such as special prices that can only be claimed if the homeowner agrees to work on the spot are a major red flag. Contractors that demand large up-front payments (more than ten or fifteen percent of the total cost) or demand that payments be in cash only are also red flags. If possible, pay with a credit card so you have recourse to cancel a payment if the work is not completed.
Do your research
Ask around for recommendations for a good contractor. Find out if a prospective contractor has a brick and mortar location. Look for a company logo on uniforms or vehicles (it’s not definitive proof but it’s usually a good sign that a business is legitimate). Also ask to see a license and proof of insurance. These are things that any reputable contractor should have. Find out how long the contractor has been in the business and check out their company’s rating with the Better Business Bureau to see their track record in dealing with customers.
No matter what precautions you take, there’s always a chance that a contractor could leave you disappointed in their work (or lack thereof). If you’re pretty handy and willing to learn new things, you may want to try your hand at DIY home improvement. There are some simple projects you can get started with that require no expertise or special tools like installing snap-on baseboard heater covers or swapping out cabinet hardware.
Measure the height from the floor to the top of the metal wall plate.
Follow our guide for baseboard heater cover measurement:
Any baseboard larger than 7 3/8" (188 mm) will be compatible with our standard cover.
Any measurement greater than 9 3/8" (238 mm) will fit our tall cover.
Measure from the bottom of the finned tube heating element to the top of the metal wall plate,
A measurement of 5 1/2" to 6 3/4" (140 mm – 172 mm) will fit our standard cover.
A measurement of 7 1/2" to 8 3/4" (191 mm – 222 mm) will fit our tall cover.
Measure the distance from the wall or the metal wall plate attached to the wall, to the outside of the finned tube heating element.
Any measurement of less than 3 1/8" (76 mm) inches from the wall will fit our
Any measurement of less than 3 1/8" (76 mm) inches from the wall will fit our tall cover.
EZ Snap™ Wall Widgets are used when your old or existing wall back plate has been removed or if you have to hang your new cover 1 inch or higher to bring them up to a height that will fit our installation guidelines. Just measure your overall desired height, subtract 1", drill a hole, preferably in a stud and attach it to the wall with the included screw.
EZ Snap™ Floor Fidgets easily raise your new covers ¾ inch to compensate for any ¾ inch floor (wood, tile, or other) that has been installed any time since your baseboard heater was originally installed. May be used for any reason when the overall height has been shortened and the total height is less than 7-½ inches for standard height or 9-½ inches for the TALL height EZ Snap™ BaseBoard Covers. Just use the self-tapping screws to secure them to the top of your existing wallplate.
EZ Snap™ Wall Contraptions are used when your wall back plate has been completely removed. EZ Snap™ Wall Contraptions receives your EZ Snap™ BaseBoard Cover and keeps your aluminum fin tube from sagging. These completely replace your wall back plate. To install, slide up from the bottom and make sure the top is at your desired height. Screw to the wall, then bend the front finger up to hold the fin tube in place.
Measure from wall to wall and subtract ½ inch (to allow for wiggle room when installing your new covers.) The endcaps can be pulled or slid ½ inch outward on either end to fit your existing length requirements. Choose 2 flush to wall end caps.
Measure the overall length of the existing unit with ends attached then subtract ½ inch (to allow for wiggle room when installing your new covers.) The endcaps can be pulled or slid ½ inch outward on either end to fit your existing length requirements. Choose 2 Closed or Open-end caps.
Measure from the corner to the end of the unit with ends attached then subtract ½ inch (to allow for wiggle room when installing your new covers.) The endcaps can be pulled or slid ½ inch outward on either end to fit your existing length requirements. Choose 1 Closed or Open-end & 1 flush to wall end cap.
Measure the left side from corner A to corner B (see diagram). Then subtract 3 inches for the 90 degree inside corner, then subtract another ½ inch (to allow for wiggle room when installing your new covers.) Repeat for the right side if also wall to wall. You need to subtract a total of 3½ inches from each side that is wall to wall. Choose your end caps.
Measure the left side from the corner of the wall to the end of the unit with ends caps. Then subtract 3 inches for the 90 degree inside corner, then subtract another ½ inch (to allow for wiggle room when installing your new covers.) Repeat for the right side. You need to subtract a total of 3½ inches from both left and right sides. Choose your end caps.
L-Shaped outside radiators ending in the middle of the wall:
Measure from outside corner of the wall A to the end of the radiator unit with end caps attached B, then subtract ½" (to allow for wiggle room when installing your new covers.)
Measure from outside corner of the wall to the corner of the wall, then subtract 1/2" (to allow for wiggle room when installing your new covers.)
Left leg - measure from the corner out to the end of the radiator subtract 3" for the corner and ½ (to allow for wiggle room when installing your new covers.)
Center leg - measure from corner to corner and subtract 3" for each corner a total of 6"
Right leg - measure from the corner out to the end of the radiator subtract 3" for the corner and ½" (to allow for wiggle room when installing your new covers.).
We recommend that you order covers a little longer than normal and cut them on site, as there are many opportunities for mistakes in measuring and installation. By cutting on site you can fit and cut to fit. The covers can be cut with a good quality jigsaw and a fine metal cutting blade.
Now that you’ve learned how to measure baseboard heaters,
you’re ready to order.