If you find yourself without the time or the skills to be able to tackle your own home renovations, finding a trustworthy contractor is sometimes a difficult task. While word of mouth is usually the best way to ensure that you hire a quality tradesperson, you can still find yourself being taken advantage of. Here are some tell-tale ways to know if your contractor is conning you.
Your gut will know if your contractor is conning you!
They give off a bad vibe
This may appear vague, but there’s something to be said for going with your gut. If you think there’s something off about your contractor, it’s definitely within your right to go ahead and hire another candidate.
They’re cheaper than the competition
Remember that old saying “You get what you pay for”? If your contractor has quoted you at a price that is much cheaper than anyone else in your area, you have to wonder why. Either it means the contractor is planning to nail you with lots of hidden fees or it means they’re just not very good at what they do. Regardless of the reason, if you think the price you’ve been quoted is too good to be true, it probably is.
They tell you not to worry about permits
While red tape may be a pain, if your contractor tells you that there’s no need to apply for building permits, this is a definite red flag. Do your due diligence and learn the bureaucratic details needed for your particular renovation. If your contractor doesn’t appear to know the latest municipal building codes, it’s a sign that you should probably hire someone else.
They require full payment in advance
Any reputable contractor will only ask for payment in full after the scheduled work has been completed. If the contractor starts asking you to write a check well in advance, this is a major way to know if your contractor is conning you. Many contractors ask for a deposit, or a down payment to hold your place on the schedule, but consumers should never pay the full amount in advance.
They aren’t local
If your home needs to be renovated as a result of a natural disaster, be wary of contractors who promise to make repairs quickly. Any time there are natural disasters, there are usually scam artist wanting to take advantage of those who have been affected. If your contractor doesn’t have a local address, this is a sign they might do a sub-part job and will be out of town before you have a chance to track them down.
There is no written contract
If you haven’t been given a written contract, outlining all but the smallest projects included in your renovation, this is an easy way to know if your contractor is conning you. A legally binding contract will clearly outline what the contractor has included in their quoted price. If there is no written contract, you’re forced to trust the contractor’s word—and this may cost you in the long run!
They look unprofessional
While it may seem superficial, one of the more obvious ways to know if your contractor is conning you is if they use shoddy tools, filthy or broken equipment and run-down vehicles. It’s important to keep in mind the level of professionalism a contractor shows is usually a good indication of how much care they put into their work.
They’re using cheap materials
If you notice that the contractor is using different material than what was originally promised is another major warning sign. For example, con artists will use 3/8-inch plywood if the contract called for 5/8-inch plywood. If this happens more than once, this is one way you’ll know if your contractor is conning you.
They charge you more than you were quoted
If you notice an unexpected increase in material or labor costs for your renovation, this is a clear way to know your contractor is conning you. Unless the job is cost-plus, contracts between you and your contractor are firm. The only time the price can change on a fixed bid is when you initiate the change and then sign off on a change order.
They don’t have insurance
Every contractor you work with should have two types of insurance: general liability and worker’s compensation. General liability ensures that your property is protected in case it is damaged during construction, while worker’s compensation protects a contractor’s workers in the event they’re injured on your property. It is within your right to ask for a potential contractor’s insurance policy number so you can call the insurance company to make sure that every employee is covered. If you find out there’s no coverage, find another contractor.