The contractor market is extensive, offering plenty of choices but not always a ton of reliability. That makes it vital that you do your research before hiring a contractor – after all, this person will be invited into your home, probably for an extended period of time, and you need them to have expertise to get the job done right.
Before you hire a contractor, do your homework and be aware that not every contractor is qualified or honest. Here are 6 warning signs that you may be hiring the wrong contractor. That kind of mistake can be expensive, so trust your gut. Don’t settle for second best when it comes to your home.
Warning #1: They Demand Big Down Payments
Remodeling and other major construction projects are expensive, but they shouldn’t be expensive up front. One of the first warning signs that you’re hiring the wrong contractor is that they demand a big down payment on a job that hasn’t started yet. Don’t agree to this demand – it tends to lead down the road of dissatisfaction.
With contractors who demand a big down payment, you run several risks. The first is that they will disappear completely and never turn up for the job. Another possibility is that they will start the job and abandon it, or do it so poorly that they worry you will be unwilling to pay. A reliable contractor wants you to see positive progress before the real money starts to flow.
Warning #2: They Can Start Right Away
You might be in a hurry to get your renovations going, but don’t expect your contractor to be ready to start as soon as the contract is fine. In fact, it’s far better if they make you wait a few months, even if you find this frustrating. Contractors who can start right away are contractors who don’t have a lot of business and aren’t in high demand. People have been explicitly told by former clients not to hire them so they’re ready to start on any job that comes their way.
Instead of jumping for a contractor ready to start your job right away, interview a few more and choose a contractor who is in high demand. Ask friends who have had work done on their homes and see who they recommend. Names you hear recommended frequently will likely have a line. Join the queue and wait for the positive results.
Warning #3: The Lack Proper Certification
While some jobs don’t require highly specific skills, for many renovations you’ll want to look into what the appropriate certifications or licenses for the job are, and then ask if your contractor has them. If they don’t have the right licenses, don’t let them do the job.
Someone with no electrical experience shouldn’t be rewiring your home – after all, you wouldn’t let your next-door neighbor perform heart surgery on you just because they were friendly and seemed competent. We demand proper qualifications for lots of other roles, but sometimes we act with laxity when it comes to physical labor. Don’t fall into this trap. Different renovations also need highly specific skill sets to be done properly.
Warning #4: They Won’t Disclose Their Subcontracting Practices
When you hire a contractor, you should be aware that the person you’re speaking to is unlikely to be the one doing most of the work. This person is the face of the job, but subcontractors will do most of the work. Ask your contractor who his subcontractors are, what their licenses and qualifications are, and how subcontractors will be supervised. They should be forthcoming about this information.
If your contractor won’t discuss their subcontractors or they insist that they do all the work themselves, take a step back. This is unlikely and probably means that there are things the contractor doesn’t want you to know about the subcontractors – that they are paid under the table, are uncertified, or have criminal convictions. Refuse to work with any contractor who won’t discuss his subcontracting practices.
Warning #5: Your Contractor Is Always Late Or Doesn’t Return Emails
You need to have clear lines of communication with your contractor both before and during any job, so watch for warning signs that they may be hard to get a hold of. Is your contractor chronically late to your initial meetings? If so, they may have a hard time prioritizing and using their time wisely, which may cause your project to fall behind, stretching for far longer than original estimates.
If your contractor can’t respond to email or phone calls in a timely matter, this can also be cause for concern. Especially if your contractor only does limited supervision at your job site, you’ll need to be able to contact them in other ways. Send a few emails and make a few phone calls before you hire a contractor, and see how long it takes them to respond. Major lag time is a problem, especially in an era of constant contact.
Warning #6: The Material Mark Up Is Huge
Contractors mark up their materials, it’s just part of the deal. This should basically cover the effort your contractor put in finding the right materials, checking samples with you, hauling items to the site, and so forth. You’re paying for their labor, their material knowledge, etc. with the material mark up.
This is fine, but the problem arises when contractors excessively mark up their materials. Do your research in advance and get a sense of how much the base materials cost. Then expect to pay some extra on top of that.
The alternative to paying for the mark up is to buy the job materials yourself (if this is something you feel comfortable with). Especially on big jobs, skipping the mark up by doing this work yourself can save you as much as 20% of the total job costs. That’s big savings, but don’t buy your own materials just to save money. If you have no idea what you’re doing, leave it to the professionals.
Contractors You Can Rely On
If you’re planning a renovation project, turn to Siding & Windows Group for work you can rely on. Our team of professionals comes equipped with the proper skills and licensing to conquer any major home renovations. Need proof? Check out our galleries or reviews for proof of our quality work. Let us help turn your house into a home.