Most remodeling contractors are honest and hardworking, doing their best to make a living, produce good results and create satisfied customers. Yet the many horror stories of poor workmanship and price gouging that abound on the internet make clients dubious and very wary of being ripped off.
DO YOUR RESEARCH! DO YOUR RESEARCH! DO YOUR RESEARCH!
Taking the time to find out as much as you can about a remodeling contractor before giving him the go ahead is your best defense. Any reputable remodeling contractor will be happy to provide you with information.
Here are some warning signs that should make you think twice before committing.
SOLICITS DOOR TO DOOR
Cold calls are questionable and suggest that the remodeling contractor is a one-man band. This may be fine for odd jobs but not for a large project.
CAN START IMMEDIATELY
Obviously he has no other work lined up. Reputable contractors are frequently booked up in advance.
IS PUSHY AND TRIES TO RUSH YOU
If the remodeling contractor is pushy and offers you a discount for making a quick decision, it may be so that you have no time to check up on him.
if the remodeling contractor gives you a price that is significantly lower than other quotes, he may be cutting corners and using inferior materials.
DOES NOT PRODUCE A BUSINESS LICENSE
When you ask to see the contractor’s business license, does he brush you off or keep forgetting to bring it?
DOES NOT PRODUCE INSURANCE COVERAGE
Is he equally casual about producing his insurance? Does he tell you that your homeowner’s policy will cover it?
NO WORKERS’ COMPENSATION
If the remodeling contractor doesn’t have this at all, he is not looking after his workers. He may say that he doesn’t need it for himself, but he does, in order to relieve you, the homeowner, of any liability.
NOT IN THE PHONE DIRECTORY OR ONLINE
Not all companies have a website, but if you can find no evidence at all of the remodeling contractor, that should be a warning.
ASKS YOU TO GET THE BUILDING PERMITS
Contractors deal with building permits all the time and should obtain these for the client as part of the contract. If you are asked to get them, or worse, told you will be fine without them, run the other way.
PUTS NOTHING IN WRITING
You need to have everything in writing and any reluctance to do this is unprofessional.
ASKS FOR TOO MUCH MONEY UP FRONT
The Contractors State License Board (CSLB) states that the deposit should be no more than 10% or $1,000.00, whichever is less. This is usually paid upon signing of the contract. It is normal to pay a further 25% of the contract value before your contractor orders items such as kitchen cabinets. The next payment of around 35% is usually paid before major work begins and the final 30% upon completion. If a contractor asks for most of the payment up front, this should be a red flag and may reflect a less than stable financial position.
ASKS FOR A CHECK TO MADE OUT TO A PERSON NOT THE COMPANY
This suggests questionable bookkeeping.
ASKS TO BE PAID IN CASH
The remodeling contractor may offer you a considerable discount if you pay in cash. Don’t be tempted. You need to have proof of payment with either a check or credit card.