Thinking about hiring a sketchy contractor just to save money? Think again.
A reputable contractor will make you feel comfortable about himself and his work. If your instincts throw up a red flag, it’s wise to follow them. Taking a chance with a disreputable contractor isn’t necessary when there are so many good ones who need your business.
Here are some warning signs that a contractor shouldn’t make it past your front door:
He Shows up Out of the Blue
Homeowners contact a kitchen remodel contractor when they’re ready, not the other way around. If someone knocks on your door and offers their services, be wary. Ask to see identification and some evidence that he owns a business.
Check the information on his business card or flyer to be sure it’s valid. Call the number and check out the address. If his business mail goes to a P.O. Box, ask for a physical address.
He Provides No Licensing or Insurance
Reputable home-improvement contractors aren’t afraid to show proof of their license. In fact, they should expect to be asked. If a potential contractor says that it’s at his office or he lost it, he may not have one. Don’t hire him until he provides it.
Likewise, hiring a contractor who doesn’t have insurance is asking for trouble. If he damages your home or someone is injured due to his work, your may be responsible for the bill.
He Can’t Provide You with References
Few business owners have a spotless track record, but a reputable contractor has references who volunteer information about his quality of work and work ethic. If the would-be contractor won’t give you references, hiring him is taking a big risk.
While it’s true that everyone has to start somewhere, most contractors have worked under a supervisor who gladly confirms their skills.
His Manner is Notably Unprofessional
The work environment of a licensed contractor isn’t always clean. In fact, most remodeling jobs are dirty ones. However, a contractor should present himself in a professional manner, regardless of whether he’s been under a house installing new plumbing.
Rudeness, lack of respect for you or your property and unpleasant comments about other clients are unprofessional behavior and clues to what your experience with him would be like.
If his business practices seem smelly, they probably are.
He Bobs and Weaves about Costs and Payment
If the contractor won’t provide his fees and give you an estimate in writing, close the door or hang up the phone. Furthermore, if he requires full payment up front or only accepts cash, his business dealings are suspicious.
You should expect to make a sizable down payment on the job, but he should not ask for everything up front, and never insist on cash.
He Suggests Dangerous or Unusual Practices
Some contractors insist that shortcuts save you money. While a lower cost is appealing, taking risks isn’t worth it.
If a contractor’s shortcut results in a code violation, you are responsible for it. If the violation is dangerous, such as using the wrong gauge wire just because it’s handy, he’s putting your safety and your home in jeopardy.
He Claims Permits Aren’t Necessary
A contractor might claim that since the kitchen remodel is indoors, no one will be the wiser and he doesn’t need a permit. He does need one, and failing to obtain it can cost you. Balking at the idea of a permit can indicate that he’s not comfortable having his work inspected.
Never underestimate your instincts and the value of some investigative work when hiring a contractor. The good ones are worth the time and the money. End