18 Aug 10 Signs Your Contractor is a Con Man
You’ve finally had enough of those old Oak kitchen cabinets and the yellow linoleum floor and have decided it’s time for a remodel. Maybe it’s that outdated bathroom. You know the one. It smells like grandma’s attic and your guests try to avoid it at all costs. Perhaps it’s a new outdoor kitchen for the back yard. Regardless of the project, it seems that we Americans love to change our environment. There’s nothing like good ole sweat equity, am I right? It’s actually therapeutic.
However, once the decision has been made to remodel, the real headache begins; who do I hire for the job. You can’t get just anyone or you might end up with the bottomless remodel project from hell. The one that always costs more than you thought and takes three times as long to complete. Worse, it’s done so poorly that you have to pay another person to fix it the right way.
As they say, forewarned is forearmed. Here are 10 indications your prospective general contractor might be a general con man.
1. License, I Don’t Need No Stinkin’ License!
There are unscrupulous people who want to make the fast buck and be on their way. If the prospective contractor refuses to give you a copy of his license and certificate of insurance, which should include liability and worker’s compensation, It’s time to show him the door. Don’t risk it.
2. Here Today Gone Tomorrow Harry
You need to ask the hard questions. How long have you been a General Contractor? Who are some of your clients? Do you have any references? Use Google to find out the facts. If they don’t have a valid website, Google My Business listing, or even a verifiable address, beware.
3. Impatient and overly anxious to begin work
If they seem anxious to start and avoid signing a contract or discussing the construction process in detail that is a red flag. Some will try to make the process overly casual. As if, it’s just two old friends agreeing to do a job. Refusing to supply a written contract or other paperwork necessary to provide you with legal protection is a clear sign you might be falling for a scam.
4. Can I get a check for that?
It is common practice for contractors to require an up front deposit to cover material costs that are outlined in the contract, however you should not be asked to foot the bill for materials that are not set forth in the contract. Statements like
“We appologize but because of XYZ conditions we had to purchase alot more of this material…”
All licensed contractors will calculate the materials necessary for the job exactly. They know how much lumber they will need, and how much of any other resource may be required. Occasionally, there are situations, which are out of the contractor’s control, that may require additional materials but those situations are rare. In such cases the reputable contractor will sit down with you and explain in detail why more materials might be required.
5. You Gotta Fix That Or…
Beware of contractors who try to use bullying or scare tactics to get you to sign off on upgrades or additional changes. They will attempt to capitalize on your lack of construction knowledge and convince you that some dire consequence will occur if you don’t have the additional work done. Just say no.
6. You’re Going To Need A New One
It’s always a red flag if the Contractor tries to convince you something needs replacement when it works fine. Furnaces may be older but if they work and you like them, leave them alone. A reputable general contractor will never try to do work that you don’t want done or that doesn’t need doing.
7. I Just Don’t Like The Cut Of His Jib
Never discount your own intuition. If something about them seems strange or odd, investigate. More often than not that feeling has it’s roots in reality. Trust your instincts.
8. Avoid the Sales Hype
If they suggest to you that they will give you a super deal if you will allow them to put a sign in your front yard as advertisement beware. Any reputable contractor knows the right way to advertise and it’s not with a random sign in a homeowner’s front yard. Also, don’t fall for the “Limited Time Offer” sales approach. A reputable general contractor will be more than happy to allow you time to gather other bids and to do your research before committing to them. They are interested in quality and satisfaction, not quantity and profit.
9. There’s Just One Thing, I Need Payment In Advance
Asking for an initial deposit before beginning work is one thing. Many reputable contractors employ this technique to insure the buyer is serious about the project. However, you should never be required to foot the entire project cost in advance. There is usually only one reason a contractor requires full payment in advance, they don’t plan to stay around.
10. There Are No Guarantees, Ma’am!
Any general contractor worth his salt will be more than happy to guarantee their work. If they refuse to guarantee their work, there is probably a good reason. Get the guarantee in writing before work begins. Due diligence is its own best reward.