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Spotting a Bad Contractor


1.For Only $20 You Get...
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Recommendations are the lifeblood of any contractor’s career, but a reference from a friend shouldn’t be the only feature that convinces you to hire a home improvement professional. Hiring a contractor who uses shoddy materials, cuts corners, and shows up at your door with extra fees can turn a dream home into a nightmarish existence. The next time you need some work done on your home, remember these terrifically obvious signs of a terrible contractor.

For Only $20 You Get

Unless a contractor recently won the lottery and wants to share his winnings with you, cheap prices tend to come from cheap work. A little investigation on standard pricing for contracting jobs goes a long way in helping you to figure out whether a deal is just a little too good to be true.

Negotiating can save you a few hundred dollars on a big job, but don’t expect to get good work done for peanuts. Suspiciously low bids on contractor’s work will tend to leave you with an unfinished home addition that doubles as a federal disaster area.

He Won’t Sign on the Dotted Line

Never enter into a verbal agreement with a contractor. Although verbal agreements can hold up in court, do you really want to risk a civil suit if the contractor fails to keep his end of the bargain?

Reputable contractors will always sign a contract without any hesitation or complaining. Contracts tend to have clauses regarding unexpected delays and costs, so the contractor is just as protected as the homeowner.

Your Contractor is in Witness Protection

A contractor with no past is either under secret government protection (unlikely) or is a crooked contractor. Never assume that a list of references is real unless you call those numbers to verify. Anyone can make up a bunch of names and phone numbers and put them on a sheet of paper. It’s up to you to confirm the contractor’s telling the truth.

It’s okay if a contractor is new to the business. A contractor who’s just started his own business may have good intentions. However, even new contractors should be able to provide references of work as an apprentice with another company.

Your Cousin Has This Friend

Unless your cousin’s friend is a licensed, bonded contractor with experience, you should run far, far away from anyone’s best buddy. Handyman Joe Bob might have done a terrific job re-facing your best friend’s cabinets, but is he really the right source to knock out a wall in your house?

Recommendations are valuable for finding a reputable contractor, but only when the recommendation leads you to an actual contractor instead of someone’s friend who needs a few dollars and a job.

One of the best things about owning your own home is changing it and improving it, but there are several projects around the home that require professional assistance, even if you consider yourself the neighborhood’s local Bob Vila.

Putting up some crown molding is definitely a DIY project. Erecting an entire new wing on your house tends to require a contractor. Don’t put your trust in a shady, suspicious company. Do the research and partner with a respected, local contractor for your next home improvement job.