There are plenty of mistakes to avoid when dealing with a contractor. After all, it’s a bit of a gamble with a huge amount of money. When you’re in the market for someone to build you a home, build an addition, or add a deck, it’s best if you know what to look out for. It all revolves around finding an experienced contractor who has made several clients happy in the past. So here are some signs of a bad contractor and how to avoid mistakes when choosing one. You’ll be glad you took the time to look through it.

“It is not the beauty of a building you should look at; its the construction of the foundation that will stand the test of time.” - David Allan Coe

When They’re Not Willing to Disclose References

A good contractor can make or break a project
Getting the right pro for the right job. Source: Oz Custom

Any contractor worth his salt knows that building a portfolio is the key to success. Therefore, good builders will have multiple past jobs that they can direct you to and see how well they perform. Every real estate agent and general contractor have already worked with multiple parties if they’ve been in the business for a while. So make sure your contractor can produce the following:

  • References
  • Past work
  • Former clients
  • Previous contacts
  • A portfolio
  • Credentials
  • Specific blueprints/plans
  • A website

When They’re Not Licensed, Bonded, and Insured

Another important step in building a new home
Building a home. Source: Wiki

Another huge red flag is a contractor who wants to work off the record. Anyone who wants to rush into the work without being licensed, bonded, and insured deserves to be on the bad contractors list. There is a reason contractors are expensive, because an accident on the job site can turn into a lawsuit fairly quickly. This makes rush jobs fairly dangerous to whomever owns the lot. So make sure that your contractor understands and plans out the work that they’re about to undergo.

Legit pros can always come up with the following:

It’s best to separate the licensed, insured, and bonded professionals from scammers who are looking to make a quick buck. So make sure your contractor can produce certain business transactions. Look to these guidelines for more info:

  • Specific blueprints
  • Cope and scale
  • Materials used
  • Project dates and completion times
  • Payment schedule
  • Any notice of cancellation

When They Don’t Interview Well

A new foundation takes a lot of work
Getting to know each other a little bit better. Source: Video Blocks

A contractor is usually confident. They know that they have the skills and experience needed to get the job done. So anyone who appears more nervous than usual, or seems shady or vague about project details might be a less than desirable candidate. So again, it’s important to ask for credentials and past work experience. This also lets you know right away how to deal with bad contractors. Otherwise, they might just be a socially awkward savant, and perfectly capable of doing a great job if things are in order. That’s why it’s important to interview first.

When They Ask for Payment First

Sometimes negotiating is hard
Know what the red flags are. Source: Video Blocks

This is a gigantic red flag in the contractor community. If anyone asks for cash up front, it is very possible that they are trying to scam \you, and again, this is why it’s so important to get credentials first. A real, reliable contractor may ask for a downpayment in check form, but avoid anyone who wants cash first.

Not Getting Three Estimates

Time is money
What it all boils down to. Source: How Stuff Works

The best way to make sure you’re getting the right work done at the right price is to get several bids.

Don’t tell the contractors about each other, just see if three different guys will come out to the site and give you an estimate. You may want to go for the lowest price, but that also means you’re getting the lowest quality work done. So go for the medium range. The best work for the best price. A good contractor will serve you well.

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