Trying to find a contractor on your own can be tricky. You could end up working with someone you can’t trust or rely on. They may have a great demeanor over the phone and offer you an excellent deal and then cut corners on the job site and leave you in the dark about their progress. They may say they have experience, but you may learn better.
Here are some red flags to look out for.
They Have an Attitude From the Start
This person is going to be running the show during your remodel.
If they are negative and hard to talk to during the first phone call or meeting, expect that they will be the same way throughout the project.
A professional attitude is a sign that the pro will take you seriously and do good-quality work. The best pros are open to questions and calmly come to you with any roadblocks and solutions they recommend.
They Won’t Commit to Anything
Your contractor should be able to detail the work necessary and the time needed to do it. The two of you should be able to draw up a contract and quote, which they can sign and adhere to. If they are hesitant or refuse to commit to these details, they may not be confident in their skills and estimates. In other words: They may not know what they’re doing.
A person who is sure of their experience will be comfortable agreeing to timelines and contracts. After all, that’s why they’re called “contractors.”
They’re Late and Hard to Get Ahold Of
One of the biggest issues homeowners have with their contractor is untimeliness.
An unprofessional individual may be late to their appointments, late to respond to phone calls or simply don’t show up. They should be able to stick to their commitments as closely as possible and respond to your calls within a reasonable period.
You know you’ve found a great contractor when they both arrive on-site on time and the project is running according to, or ahead of, schedule.
They Aren’t Prepared
An obvious clue that the person you’ve hired doesn’t have the necessary experience will be a lack of preparedness. They should have the correct license and insurance for the job you’ve hired them for. They should have the right equipment. It’s important to review their portfolio and references for work that is relevant to your project before you hire them. Otherwise, they may exaggerate their experience to win you over.
Consider asking contractors for references when you interview them for the job. If they can put you in touch with recent, satisfied clients or direct you to their latest consumer reviews, you can confirm for yourself that they have the right experience.
They Demand a Large Down Payment
If your contractor asks for 50% up front, it’s likely that they are trying to cover costs on other projects they’ve come up short on. Large down payments are a big red flag.
Professional contractors should not expect you to pay a large amount to start. The typical payment agreement will begin with a 10% to 15% installment. Throughout the project, homeowners often pay several small installments followed by a final, 10% to 15% after the work is complete.
Their Estimates Are Completely Wrong
There are several ways a contractor can under or overestimate a job.
If they order an excessive amount of materials, you’ll be paying for unused materials. If they need several more days than projected to complete the job, it can be both an inconvenience and extra labor costs for you. Even worse, they may offer you an extremely low quote and be unable to hire subcontractors at the rate they promised.
You can protect yourself from most of these schemes by being well informed. Call at least three contractors for quotes. Ask for references. Read up on project costs and contractor reviews. Look for pros on sites that prescreen businesses, and avoid the chaos and expense of hiring a clueless contractor.