Hiring a contractor is no easy feat. There are so many options out there and every person you ask has different advice to offer and a different company to recommend.
There’s also a lot of trust involved – whomever you choose will be a part of your lives for a while, and has the success of your remodel in their hands. It’s not a decision that should be rushed, because making the wrong choice can have pretty big consequences.
Use these warning signs as a way to weed out the contractors who may not live up to your standards.
1. Contract Issues
Be very wary of any contractor who asks you to sign a vague contract. When it comes time to commit, you should have all the information: payment details, product information and schedule. And, make sure that you’ve looked over the contract closely to ensure that you understand what you’re agreeing to. There shouldn’t be any blank lines or ambiguously-worded terms.
You should never feel forced to sign a contract. Once the contract includes the specific details mentioned above then you are ready to sign. Never sign a contract that doesn’t include any verbal agreements made between yourself and your sales representative. Every part of the job that is known at the time you sign your contract should be included in writing. Don’t worry, however, if you are asked to sign a “Subject-to Agreement,” which basically says that the contract will become legally binding once the insurance company approves the work.
2. Local Offices
Though contractors do their business on site, they should have a local office. If they don’t, there isn’t much to stop them from taking off with your payment, mid-project. Make sure that you get a local address from everyone you’re considering, and verify that they are real places associated with those companies. Fly-by-night operations exist – just Google “contractor horror stories” if you don’t believe me. Do your homework to make sure you don’t get taken advantage of by one.
3. Better Business
Legitimate, reputable contractors are all accredited by the Better Business Bureau. Though this isn’t guarantee enough, it should be your minimum requirement. It just isn’t worth the risk of hiring a company that doesn’t have the accreditation, no matter what their explanation is.
4. Web Presence
Reputable contractors have an online reputation, end of story. Contractors who do a lot of business, and do it well, have a presence on the web. They should have a website and reviews on sites like Google+, Angie’s List and Yelp. Great companies usually have social media pages as well – these are all a sign that the business has been around for a while and works on maintaining their reputation through quality work and customer service.
If you don’t see a strong internet presence, they may be a new company. Though this isn’t necessarily a bad sign in itself, it’s hard to determine the quality of a brand-new contractor. It’s best to hire someone who has a proven track record of success.
Great contractors can’t wait to share their references and referrals with potential clients. They want to show off their excellent work and brag about how happy their former clients are. If the company you’re thinking of hiring doesn’t have a wealth of references to offer you, your alarm bells should go off. And remember, one reference isn’t enough. Anyone can have one pleased customer – your contractor should have a long list.
Do not go lightly into an agreement with a contractor, and do not feel bad about thoroughly vetting each candidate. While you may be anxious to get your project started, take the time upfront to choose the right contractor. Putting in the effort now will save you headaches down the road.