Four Ways to Avoid a Bad Contractor

Need to know what to look out for when hiring a contractor? We’ve got you covered…

Owning a home can be a liberating experience. It is yours to do with as you wish. Want an environmentally friendly, bath water recycler? No problem. Fancy a neon pink interior with a daisy trim accented by French doors? Voila, it’s yours. The problems is hiring the right contractor.

The challenge isn’t what you can do, but who you can trust to do it. Unless you’re Suzelle, the ultimate DIY genius, finding the right person to complete a renovation project in your home can be a complicated process. You need to know that the contractor will do a good job, within the agreed upon time frame. Equally as important, is that your contractor stays within your budget.

Unfortunately, the bad contractor experience is one almost everyone has had at some point. Unexpected costs and delays, broken tools and fixtures, and even, a job done so badly you have to pay someone else to do it again. Nobody wants this frustration, especially in their living space.

Fortunately, this is something that can be avoided. If you take precautions, make notes of possible warning signs and ask the right questions. Here’s some of our advice for getting it right:

1. They want all the money upfront

Paying for the materials is one thing, but paying the full amount for a project at the start is another. Generally, a reliable contractor will be comfortable with half the funds upfront, and the rest at the end of the job, once you’re happy with the work. The same applies to a contractor that pushes you for a large deposit of more than 60% — be aware and find out why. Some contractors need to pay their staff on a daily basis, others may need more money for the materials. In both cases you need a clear idea as to what your money is being spent on.

2. They aren’t transparent

When you hire someone to work in your home, they have to be accountable for the results. A trustworthy contractor will keep you updated, be honest and do what they can to address any unexpected problems. And there will be unexpected problems — that water pipe that burst and caused structural damage, the leak that nobody knew about — these issues will affect the price and timing of any job and are out of the contractor’s hands. However, if the contractor is honest and clear about the impact, then you can make informed choices as the project progresses.

3. They can’t tick some basic boxes

There are some questions you must ask your contractor before you get started on any project. Find out the following before any money changes hands:

  • How many years have they have been in business.
  • Reviews from previous customers — don’t be put off if they have some bad reviews as some customers are hard to please. Get a holistic picture of the person.
  • What qualifications they have — this does depend on the type of work you are hiring them to do, some jobs don’t need qualifications.
  • A portfolio of some kind — visual proof of work they’ve done in the past.
  • Good communication skills — a willingness to talk about the project, to address your concerns and to answer questions. If they are pushy and don’t listen, maybe look to using someone else.

4. They don’t ask you the right questions

Contractors are not mind readers. You must have a very clear picture of what you want them to achieve and you need to communicate this with them. Don’t expect them to climb inside your mind and deliver the goods. Having said that, if the contractor doesn’t ask you questions and really get to grips with your project, that should raise alarm bells. The contractor should also ask you about your concerns, your timing, your expectations and payment terms and make absolutely sure that they understand what you need them to do.

To avoid hiring bad contractors we can help. All the contractors listed on Kandua.com have been background checked, reviewed, and vetted by their community.

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