Hiring someone to work on your home can be a stressful because you know that the quality of the work will have a lot to do with the person who performs it.  For this reason you tend to do everything you can to find someone who is certified and who seems to have a work history you can trust, but there is still one catch.  Oftentimes the contractor you choose is a stranger initially, so how do you avoid a bad contractor who looks perfect on paper but won’t deliver what you expect?  Here are some ways to spot the red flags that indicate you may have a dud instead of a stud!

Really Low Bid Prices


While this may seem like an advantage to you, if the quote you get is so much lower than others it may be a problem in the long run.  This business is very much a “you get what you pay for” industry.  Keep this in mind when you are comparing bid prices.  Either the contractor doesn’t understand the scope of the work or you are going to be dealing with extra costs and change orders after the work starts.  Either way, you will end up paying more than the bid and often times more than the other bids!


Refusal to Sign Contracts


A bad contractor will tend to have a problem with any kind of paper trail, especially one that is legally binding.  This can be a way of covering themselves if something goes wrong.  It can also be that they have something to hide and would rather not put their names to anything.  If a contractor won’t sign anything, especially legally binding documents, then a HUGE red flag has been raised and you should seriously reconsider using this person.


Use of Pressure Tactics


Ever had a sales person paint you a really scary picture to hurry you into buying something?  Or worse, ever had someone try to rush you to buy something as though you were taking up too much of their time?  Contractors who use pressure tactics like this are often not the ones we want to hire.  A bad contractor will use these tactics to rush you into a decision and hire them when you really should be telling them no thanks.


Demanding Payment Upfront


Never make full payment or sign anything to say the job is complete until you are satisfied with the work.  Besides your satisfaction you also want to make sure that it passes inspection and that you get proof that you have made all payments.  The proof of payment is especially useful since anyone who is not paid by your contractor can put a lien on your house to demand compensation.  Unfortunately, if that contractor is nowhere to be found and you have no proof that you paid you may end up paying twice.


Sketchy References


If you do not trust the provided references or none are provided during your selection then you are more than likely dealing with a bad contractor.  Questionable references may mean the contractor is making things up.  Even worse, no references suggest that he or she cannot trust past customers to vouch for the work done which is never a good thing.


Lastly, there is that unquantifiable feeling that you get in your gut.  Listen to what it says, it often will steer you in the right direction.  Consider this, you wouldn’t buy a car if you felt uncomfortable with it, in fact would you buy anything if you felt uncomfortable with it?  Probably not, and hiring a contractor is no different.   Use your common sense as well and you will greatly reduce the probability of hiring a bad contractor!