10 Red Flags: Choose the Right Contractor

Hiring a contractor to tackle your upcoming home improvement project is no small feat. Whatever your project may be, it is important to find a trusted contractor to do the job right the first time, while staying within your budget parameters. Let this be your guiding light in finding the right professional to hire for your next big project. Read on for red flags to look out for when it comes to hiring your contractor.

10 Red Flags to look for when hiring a contractor.

1. The contractor insists you pay in cash.

A contractor who requires a cash payment may be scamming you. It’s always best practice to pay with a credit card or a check so you have a paper trail and proof of payment. If the contractor you are considering is vetted and legitimate, paying in cash may be ok. Just be sure you get a signed receipt or invoice that includes details of the project, job cost, and the date.

2. They don’t have an online presence. 

If you can’t find any information about your contractor online, that may be a red flag. Many contractors have some type of online presence or social media footprint that tells you more about their experience and the services offered. You should also be able to read past customer reviews – which may be hard to do if you can’t find them online anywhere.

3. They have too many bad reviews. 

Don’t slough off a bad review. Make sure to read through multiple reviews to ensure the contractor hasn’t consistently performed poorly. Notice if there are any trends. For example, are customers always complaining about time management? Lack of communication? Their quality of work? If the contractor keeps getting the same negative feedback, chances are they may do the same for you and aren’t taking the constructive feedback to better their practices.

4. They can’t answer any of your questions. 

Always ask questions, especially when it comes to big home improvement projects. Get details about the materials they plan to use and how long the project will take. Be sure to get an itemized cost of what all the project will entail. If your contractor is unable to answer basic questions like these, they might not have enough experience for your project.

5. Their price quotes are suspiciously low. 

We all love a good bargain! However, when it comes to home improvement projects, that’s not something we want to cut corners on, especially when it seems too good to be true. If the estimated cost of your project is much lower than you anticipated, shop with other contractors to see where they are coming in at. If one is significantly lower than the others, it may be a scam.

6. You’re being pressured to make a decision right away. 

Nobody likes to be rushed into big decisions, especially when this decision involves large financial investments in your home. A professional contractor should allow for proper time and space so you can think through your options before hiring anyone.

Keep in mind that your contractor may have other customers or bids. If your project is time-sensitive, give them an answer before they book a job with someone else.

7. They arrived late to your first meeting. 

Whether your initial consultation is by phone or in person, your contractor should be punctual. If they are late and do not give you a heads up, this could be a sign that they are unreliable. This is the last thing you want when dealing with large home projects.

8. They were rude during the interview.

It is important to have a good working relationship with your contractor. If you do not think you will get along or aren’t seeing eye to eye this early in the process, it may be best to consider working with someone else.

9. Poor communication.

Communication is extremely important, no matter the size of the project. Your contractor should be in contact with you through every step of the process to keep you updated and informed. A lot of times, you can get a feel for their communication during your initial dealings with them. Were they quick to respond to your email or call? Did they respond in a professional manner? If not it may be good to look elsewhere.

10. There is very little in writing. 

Documentation is the best way to protect yourself as a homeowner. When you conduct most of the communication in person or over the phone, you lose access to those records. In some cases, you may have a misunderstanding with the contractor that may be better clarified in writing. If they are unwilling to answer questions by email or text, be cautious. Someone who won’t communicate with you in writing may be trying to cover their tracks.