Whenever you need a contractor to work on your home, it’s imperative that you hire someone who is reputable and has a great track record. If you don’t, you could end up with all kinds of problems, such as paying over the odds, getting bad workmanship, or finding your project is left half-finished.
So, to hire a contractor that is professional and trustworthy, make sure you watch out for the following five red flags.
1. The Contractor Has No Reviews or Bad Reviews
Whether you find a contractor for your home project through a personal recommendation or via an online search, it’s very important that you look at online reviews for any contractor you’re considering hiring. If you can’t find any online reviews for a contractor, it’s definitely a red flag. After all, any contractor worth his or her salt will want to post reviews from clients on their website. Though, even when you can easily find reviews online, you should read through them carefully, as having too many bad reviews is just as much of a red flag as having no reviews.
2. The Contractor Has No references
Similar to the above point, if a contractor you’re considering hiring doesn’t have any references, it’s best to avoid that person and find somebody else. Having no references is a telltale sign that the contractor doesn’t have the expertise, experience, and skills required to complete jobs satisfactorily. But even when a contractor does have references, in which past projects for clients are showcased, it’s important that you look through the specifics. Spend time looking at who the customers were, what projects the contractor did for them, and so on, to ensure the contractor you hire has a good track record.
3. The Contractor Doesn’t Use a Contract
If a contractor you’re thinking about hiring says no contract is necessary, go with someone else. You should never hire a contractor without getting the important stuff in writing. If you do hire someone without a contract in place, you could end up with unfinished work that will be costly for another contractor to complete or you could have to pay way over your expected budget with your existing contractor. And with no contract in place, the contractor can’t easily be held to account. For instance, if the contractor should cause property damage while working on your project, you need to ensure you recover from the damages by seeking compensation. It may be more difficult to do that if there is no contract in place.
4. The Contractor Asks for a Large Down Payment
While it’s normal to pay a down payment to a contractor, if the amount being asked for seems excessive, it could be a red flag that the contractor isn’t as trustworthy as he or she seemed. While you’ll usually have to pay for high-ticket-price items like countertops or kitchen cabinets, you should never pay unreasonable amounts upfront. Indeed, in some states in the U.S., there are caps on the amount a contractor can charge for a down payment and upfront costs.
5. The Contractor Quotes a Very Low Price
Just as concerning as a contractor who asks for a lot of money upfront is a contractor who quotes you a ridiculously low price. Sure, some contractors will quote low prices to try to undercut the competition, but if the quote is suspiciously low, sit up and take notice. You should work out your own estimate so that you can judge how fair and legitimate a contractor’s quote seems, and always get a breakdown of estimated costs before you sign a contract.