At some point, every homeowner is going to find themselves in the market for a good contractor. Whether your residence is in need of serious repairs or you’re looking to undertake ambitious renovations, a skilled contractor can be an invaluable ally. However, not all contractors are equally dependable, and as any longtime homeowner can attest, hiring the wrong contractor can pave the way for tremendous frustration and financial strain. To help ensure that you don’t get stuck with an unreliable contractor, keep an eye out for the following signs.
Overwhelmingly Negative Feedback
Although every contractor – and every independent businessperson – you come across is likely to accentuate their positive attributes, this generally doesn’t represent the full story. Sure, most people have a tendency to play up their strengths while actively downplaying their shortcomings, but it’s only natural for us to be biased when it comes to self-assessment. As such, the best way to get an honest accounting of a contractor’s capabilities is to look at feedback from previous clients.
Fortunately, finding customer reviews for virtually any business has become easier than ever. With so many websites and apps dedicated to this very purpose, you won’t have to look very hard to find helpful reviews for contractors in your area. Keep in mind that almost every contractor you come across is going to have a few negative reviews. Even contractors who are generally well-liked are bound to accumulate the occasional piece of negative feedback. However, if you notice that negative reviews for a certain contractor significantly outnumber positive ones, it’s generally a safe bet that you shouldn’t do business with them.
Difficult to Contact
Considering how much money large-scale repairs and renovations tend to cost, it’s only natural that you’d want to work with a contractor who’s easy to contact. That being the case, you should steer clear of contractors with whom it is very difficult – if not outright impossible – to get into contact. If a contractor refuses to make themselves available before work on your project has even begun, how reliable do you think they’re going to be when the job is actually underway?
So, if you’ve repeatedly attempted to contact a contractor to no avail, simply walk away and give the job to someone else. While one or two missed calls aren’t exactly the end of the world, you should move on to other options if not being able to get in touch with your contractor becomes a persistent problem.
Won’t Commit to a Written Contract
Given how much capital is at stake when it comes to home renovations, it is imperative that you have a written contract with any contractor with whom you do business. In addition to carefully laying out payment plans and client expectations, a good contract will provide both you and your contractor with a document to point to in the event of a contract breach.
Needless to say, when a contractor refuses to commit to a contract, this should be regarded as a red flag, as it indicates a lack of confidence in their ability to complete a job on time and on budget. Handshakes and verbal agreements are unlikely to serve you well if a contractor bails on a job and leaves you high and dry. That being the case, any contractor who balks at the idea of a written contract should be a contractor who doesn’t receive your patronage.
Doesn’t Have a License
Working with a contractor who’s unlicensed is a decision you’re very likely to regret. While unlicensed contractors often charge less for their services than licensed ones, the headaches they create and the quality of their work may ultimately result in you spending more than you would have to go the licensed route. Additionally, since unlicensed contractors don’t have to worry about losing licenses they never had in the first place, they have far less incentive to see jobs all the way through or conduct themselves in a professional manner. When looking for an effective way to distinguish licensed contractors from unlicensed ones, contractor license management software can be an invaluable tool.
The right contractor can be a boon to any home improvement projects or renovations you have in the pipeline. However, as is the case with any industry, not all contractors will put their best foot forward when tackling their jobs. Needless to say, giving your business to the wrong contractor is practically guaranteed to end in regret and wasted money. As such, it’s imperative that you know what to look for the next time you find yourself in need of a dependable contractor.