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10 Signs Your Contractor is Bad News

Steve Weir November 19, 2018

When you hire a contractor, you expect to get exactly what you paid for. There are good contractors and there are bad contractors. The bad ones don’t represent the majority of builders and craftspeople that take pride in their work, however, they can leave a stain on the entire workforce. The only way to combat this bad batch of contractors is to make sure you don’t get seduced by them. Here are 10 warning signs that you’re dealing with a dishonest contractor.
 
#1: You Don’t Like Their Attitude
 
This is a bit vague, but what we’re really asking you to do is go with your gut. If there’s something off about them that you can’t quite put your finger on, chances are they’re hiding something. Whatever you’re picking up on, don’t ignore it.
 
#2: They’re Quick to Blame Others
 
No one likes to be told that they did something wrong. But a contractor shouldn’t blame other people for their mismanagement. As the leader of the project, everything that goes on during the renovation is within their purview.
 
#3: They Give Fast Quotes
 
If a contractor is quick to give a quote based only on a few over-the-phone conversations, you can count this as a warning sign. Without a site visit and a thorough discussion about what the customer wants, there’s no way a contractor can guarantee a price or even come close to a proper estimate.
 
#4: You Have a Hard Time Getting a Hold of Them
 
If you can’t reach your contractor after many phone calls and emails, you’re not their number one priority, which you should be. And if they don’t have a physical address? Now it’s your turn not to answer their calls.
 
#5: Paperwork? What Paperwork?
 
No permits, no contract, no problem. Lots of deals are made on simple handshakes, right? If you hear a variation of this sales pitch, don’t even bother going further. Never settle for any contractor who offers to do anything with a wink. Any work that is done without a permit or contract is likely to come back and haunt you.
 
#6: Referrals & Testimonials Are Hard to Find
 
Any decent contractor has a rolodex of names and numbers for you to call for a referral. It shouldn’t be hard to reach out to past customers who can sing their praises. It’s even better if these testimonials come with photographs of the contractor’s craftsmanship. If the contractor fails to provide any of these, you might be in trouble.
 
#7: They Want Nothing in Writing
 
Paper trails are important. If the contractor refuses to accept a check, respond via email, or (again) sign a contract, not only are they potentially bad, but they can also be scam artists. Always ensure there’s a paper trail—including receipts—for everything.
 
#8: Prices Are Too Good to Be True
 
Everyone wants a deal. Contractors know that. Low-balling the price to secure a contract is one thing but undercutting your competition by offering customers hundreds and thousands of dollars in discounts seems unprofessional and suspicious. If you get an offer like this, move on.
 
#9: They Never Get Their Hands Dirty
 
There’s something odd about a contractor that shows up to a job in a suit. When you hire a contractor, you expect them to subcontract some of their work, but not all of it. You want to hire someone who’s does the work, not someone who orchestrates its.
 
#10: They Use Scare Tactics
 
Sure, contractors have to make money. But if they sound more like a pushy used car salesman than a contractor who has your best interests at heart, you might feel pressured to make quick purchasing decisions that you could regret later on. Never go with a contractor that forces you to make decisions like that.
 
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