With extended lead times, finding a contractor certified to finish your task, and dealing with someone you get along with, selecting a contractor may be challenging. Therefore, do your homework before you sign any contracts to make sure there aren’t any red flags that might lead to a bad experience. For the most typical contractor warning signs, keep reading.
Has Negative Online Reviews
While you should be able to ignore negative internet reviews that repeatedly point out the same issue, you should pause and think again about whether this contractor is the best choice for your job.
Gives Outdated References
A contractor’s reference list should be continuously updated to reflect the latest happy clients. If the reference list is old, this may mean that the quality of his work has gone down or has had gaps in his work history. Also, when you’re checking references, be sure that the types of projects completed in the reference’s homes are similar to the project type you’ll be doing.
While contractors can be notoriously bad with communication, you should be able to maintain continual communication throughout your project. If you have a hard time contacting the contractor before your project begins, the communication will likely be much worse after submitting your deposit. You should expect 24-48 hour response times with any contractor you reach out to.
Requires too Much Money Upfront
A reasonable down payment to begin a construction project is approximately 10% to 25% of the total cost. If the contractor asks for much more than this, it should raise a red flag. However, there are some instances where the contractor needs to cover the total cost of materials upfront, so be sure you have an itemized breakdown of the supplies before you make any initial payments.
Lack of Licenses and Insurance
Most states require contractors to be licensed. Confirm the contractor is licensed and insured before signing and contracts. Also, check the Better Business Bureau and local court records for any issues. One of the most critical factors to look for is the type of complaint and how the contractor responded.
Fails to Provide a Detailed Estimate and Timeline
The contractor should provide a detailed estimate outlining the cost of all materials and their labor costs. A broad estimate will not suffice, as you could be in for shocking surprises when it’s time to pay your final bill. Also, a timeline and end date for the project should be included. This will help prevent the project from dragging on, or worse, never getting finished.
You’re Not Comfortable
Being comfortable around your contractor and communicating with your contractor are essential parts of the relationship. This is especially important if you will be home most of the time your contractor is around. You should feel comfortable with the contractor and his team in your home, around your children and your pets. Most importantly, listen to your gut if it’s telling you this isn’t the right fit.