Getting ready to build your dream kitchen or turn your basement into the ultimate man cave? Finding the right home contractor for a project takes a little legwork, but it could save you hundreds — if not thousands — of dollars by preventing delays and poor workmanship.
A home contractor should be someone who understands your vision, shows up when he or she promises, and delivers on time and within the budget. You want a professional you can trust and whose workmanship will create a home to be proud of for years to come. Here are seven red flags you shouldn’t ignore when searching for a contractor for your remodeling job.
- Demands Unreasonable Payment Up Front
Be cautious if a contractor asks you to pay for the entire project up front. Chances are, you may be hiring a swindler who will take your money and never return to start or complete the job. It’s normal to pay for a small percentage of the project before it begins, but a contractor asking you to pay for any more than half of the project at this stage is cause for concern.
Consider establishing a payment plan in which payments are made after each work stage is complete. This way, you’ll minimize the risk of getting swindled. Also, be wary of contractors who insist on receiving all payments in cash, since reputable professionals will have no problem accepting multiple forms of payment.
- Lacks Permits, License, or Insurance
Laws for contractor licenses and registrations vary from state to state, but professionals will hold the proper credentials required to operate legally in their areas. Beware the contractor who insists you don’t need work permits or that you secure a permit — it could be a sign that he or she isn’t licensed or registered with the proper county or state agencies.
Accidents can happen, so it’s essential that the contractor holds adequate liability and workers’ compensation insurance to keep your project protected financially.
- Tries Pushy Sales Tactics
Be suspicious of anyone who pressures you to make a quick decision, such as signing a contract on the spot. For example, a fraudster may offer a seemingly great deal but only if you agree to use its services right then and there. If a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is.
Similarly, watch for any contractor who tries to find job engagements through door-to-door sales. Established, legitimate contractors are typically too busy to solicit work.
- Has Outdated/No References
Word of mouth is a strong selling point for contractors to get repeat business. Reputable contractors are glad to provide names of satisfied customers and examples of work. Don’t be afraid to ask a contractor for a list of references. If a contractor gives an excuse, avoid moving forward with that prospect.
Once you have a list of referrals, reach out to several of them to get an idea of each contractor’s experience. Consider asking the references specific questions, such as:
- What was your overall experience like?
- Was the project completed to your satisfaction?
- Was the contractor communicative?
- Would you recommend the contractor?
- Offers a Vague or Non-Existent Contract
A contract serves as legal protection for both you and the contractor. Be sure to get everything in a written contract so that both parties know what to expect and potential disputes can be resolved more easily.
Avoid any home contractor who is unwilling to sign a thorough contract or never mentions one in the first place. Always insist on signing a contract before letting a contractor into your home.
- Communicates Poorly
Home renovations generally take a long time to complete, which means you’ll likely be in constant contact with your contractor. Maintaining communication is also important in making sure that you and your contractor are on the same page regarding the result of the remodel.
Make sure that the communication from the professional you hire is open, timely, and well-mannered. If you find that you can never get in touch with your contractor and he or she doesn’t return your calls, it can be a sign that you should find a new hire.
- Repeatedly Extends the Deadline
A professional contractor can accurately estimate how long a project CraftJack will take before it’s completed while taking into account potential causes for delay. If a contractor cannot commit to a fixed deadline or requests extensions for no apparent reason, it may be time to look for other options.
Finding a reputable contractor whom you can trust to provide quality work at a fair price may take some time. However, you are making a huge investment in your home, so it’s vital to be confident about your hiring decision. For more red flags you shouldn’t ignore when searching for a home contractor, see the accompanying infographic.