RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — People are packing the North Carolina State Fairgrounds looking to cure a common side effect of the pandemic with the return of the Southern Ideal Home Show.

“We’ve all been sitting home for the past year looking at our houses seeing all of the different things we’d like to fix,” said Tina Robinson, manager of the Southern Ideal Home Show.

With the weather warming up Robinson says people are looking to put their stimulus checks to work.

“Landscaping is huge right now,” said Robinson.

“Instead of going on vacation lets put that vacation in their backyard,” said Robert Ball, owner of RB Landscaping.

Robert Ball, owner of RB Landscaping, says his business has been busier than ever throughout the past year.

“We stay booked 3 to 4 months out, and our customers know we stand by our work,” said Ball.  “We’ll be there when it’s done, and down the road.”

With business booming home improvement has become a top ten target for scammers according to the Better Business Bureau, costing you an average of $1200, so we asked the experts the best way to protect your investment.

“Stay local, look into who you’re hiring, and wait for that person,” said Ball.  “If they’re coming next week they should be busier than that.”

“We do check through the better business bureau and make sure our vendors have a good consumer rating to protect our attendees,” said Robinson.

The Better Business Bureau provided the following tips to avoid being scammed during your next project.

·   Watch out for “red flags.” Say no to cash-only deals, high-pressure sales tactics, high upfront payments, handshake deals without a contract, and on-site inspections. Not all “storm chasers” are con artists, but enough are that you should be cautious any time a home contractor contacts you first…especially after a natural disaster.

·     Ask for references and check them out. Be leery of contractors who are reluctant to share this information. Check them out at bbb.org to see what other customers have experienced.

·     Always get a written contract with the price, materials and timeline. The more detail, the better.

·     Know the law. Work with local businesses that have proper identification, licensing and insurance. Confirm that your vendor will get related permits and make sure you know who is responsible for what according to your local laws and that your vendor is ready to comply.

·     Arrange a payment schedule. Never pay in full up front. Stagger your payments so your final payment is not due until the work is complete and you have fully inspected it. Do not pay cash; make sure your check is written to a company, not an individual, or that you use a credit card.

To find a trustworthy contractor for your next project, search for BBB Accredited businesses.