Five Red Flags You Shouldn’t Ignore When Hiring a Contractor
Home remodeling is one of the best things you can do to improve your property value, but home remodeling is a stressful chore. Many homeowners don’t have experience hiring contract workers. High pressure sales tactics and a sense of urgency can convince you to hire a contractor who’s not being honest with you. Everyone should trust their instincts most of the time, but if your potential contractor has any of these red flags you should play it safe even if they seem like a nice person.
1. They have no portfolio
Even general contractors have to start somewhere. Often, a contractor without a portfolio will tell you that they’re just starting out and they’re willing to give you a discount so they can use your home to showcase their work. Don’t buy it. Even if you’re a general contractor’s very first job, they should have experience in a related field. Have they worked general construction services in the past? Do they have any references, whether former bosses or happy customers, that you could call? If they don’t have any portfolio, it could be that they don’t have any happy customers to showcase.
2. They don’t have insurance
General construction services should carry their own insurance. Liability insurance in particular protects you from carrying any costs if an employee is hurt on the job. Most general contractors are very careful, but home remodeling is a dangerous job. There’s heavy equipment and power tools, all around, and even the safest workers can get hurt. Insurance is a must for your contractor.
3. They don’t want to work off a contract
Every contractor you interview should be able to provide you with a basic contract. Some home remodeling jobs will require you to modify the contract. That’s just fine as long as you get a legal representative to look it over. Beware of any contractor who considers his word, his contract. Words are all, well and good, but a paper contract is what will protect you in court.
4. Tries to pressure you into hiring them
A contractor that offers general construction services should never try to scare you into hiring them. Giving a professional opinion is different from a scare tactic. “The exposed part of your roof will develop mold and/or leaks if it sits in the rain” is a professional assessment of a dire situation. “Your whole roof could go any minute” is just a scare tactic.
Also, beware of any contractor who says you won’t be able to find anyone else. If they imply that all other companies that offer general construction services are scams, booked up, or busy (and they soon will be too, unless you sign the contract today) they’re trying to scare you into hiring them. You can always get multiple estimates before choosing a contractor.
5. They want to work under the table
General contractors who offer to receive cash payment for their work are often trying to avoid paying taxes on their income. While there’s little chance that you’ll be implicated in their crimes, under the table work is not guaranteed. They won’t want a paper trail, which means no valid receipt and no warranty.
Hiring a general contractor doesn’t have to be a maze of “who has the firmest handshake” and going with your gut. Be on the lookout for these five warning signs. Once you’ve weeded out the general contractors who give off red flags you’ll be left with high quality general construction services. Then you can evaluate them based on their portfolio and their price, rather than whether or not they’re legitimate services.