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4 Red Flags That You Hired a Bad Contractor

If you have recently hired a contractor to complete work around your home, you may be wondering if you hired the right person for the job.
As a homeowner, you may not realize you have hired a bad contractor until a project has started, as it’s easy to miss the warning signs during the selection process. Therefore, it’s important to know the red flags that could indicate that you have hired a bad contractor to complete your home renovation.

If you suspect your contractor may be unfit for the job, do not make the mistake of trying to tough it out. A contractor may try to convince you that you should remain with him or her because it would be more expensive or time-consuming to find a replacement. However, even if it throws off your schedule, hiring someone reliable is better than working with a questionable contractor. The sections below go over red flags that you should look out for when examining contractors.

1.     Not Responding Quickly Enough

One of the main red flags to watch out for after you have hired a contractor is how much time it takes for him or her to respond to your inquiries. If it takes several hours or even days for your contractor to return your calls, this could be an indication that this contractor is not right for you. It could also indicate that your contractor is just too busy to reasonably commit to a new project.

Open communication is essential if you want your project to run smoothly. If you have trouble getting your contractor on the phone, the renovation could become costly and time-consuming.

Of course, there may be a legitimate reason that your contractor is not returning your messages, so you should touch base with him or her before you make a final decision. If unresponsive behavior becomes a pattern, however, you should consider letting your contractor go.

You must be able to communicate effectively and promptly with your contractor during any construction or home renovation process to receive updates on how the work is coming along. Maintaining communication is also important to make sure you and your contractor are on the same page regarding the end result for your home.

2.     Having Outdated or Poor Reviews

When you are selecting a contractor to complete a project, it is important to verify his or her references and reviews before writing a check. If a contractor has positive references but they are outdated, this could be a potential red flag. Good contractors will make it a priority to keep their references current by reaching out to satisfied customers at the end of a project.

If your contractor does not have a recent positive reference to show you, this indicates something went wrong. If your contractor provides you with an outdated reference, ask if there is a more recent reference or review you could see. It is important to take this step before you have officially hired your contractor as this can save you time and frustration in the long run. If you want to be subtler with your questioning, tell the contractor you want to speak with a past client to get some potential ideas. You can also ask to see previous examples of the contractor’s work to determine if it meets your needs.

If your contractor has received poor reviews online, this is a clear indication that you should look elsewhere. It is always a good idea to check online reviews prior to hiring someone. However, if you missed this step prior to bringing a contractor on to complete a project, you can still do some damage control after the fact.

Speak with your contractor about any poor reviews you find online or reach out to one of the unhappy costumers to get the full story. If it appears your contractor has a track record of disappointing customers, it may be time to cut him or her loose from your project.

3.     Asking for Payment Up Front

If your contractor asks for payment for the entire job before any work has begun, this is a serious red flag. It is not standard for contractors to request full payment up front. Contractors typically request a security deposit for work. In fact, many contractors will not start a job until they get that deposit.

However, the purpose of the security deposit is typically to ensure you do not bail on payment once work begins, since you already have a financial interest in the project. Therefore, your contractor should not attempt to bill you for actual labor before it begins. If your contractor bills you for work in advance of a project, you should ask why or seek another contractor.

Related Article: How to Negotiate With a Contractor

A good contractor provides you with the bill once the work has been successfully completed. This ensures that your contractor is charging you for the actual amount of time needed to complete the project, rather than charging you an estimate. Other than the security deposit, do not pay your contractor in advance for any work. If he or she makes financial demands before the project has gotten underway, it may be time to look for other options.

4.     Repeatedly Extending the Deadline

Contractors who often extend work past the original deadline are bad contractors. In some instances, there are genuine reasons for a time extension. For example, if your contractor has received the wrong tile for the flooring in your kitchen and needs a few extra days to receive and install the right material, a delay is inevitable. However, if your contractor has requested a two-week extension for no apparent reason and then asks for another extension once this time has expired, this is red flag behavior.

A professional contractor can accurately estimate how long a project must take before it is completed while taking into account potential causes for delay. If your existing contractor cannot commit to a fixed deadline, it is time to seek a new contractor.

Related Article: How to Avoid Overspending on Your Project

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