Perhaps the most overlooked, yet most critical, choice a homeowner can make during their remodeling project is the contractor they choose to work with. We understand the temptation to pick a contractor or remodeling company quickly so you can get your project started, but rushing the selection and vetting process of your contractor can have devastating effects on the outcome of your home remodel.
To help homeowners carefully and correctly navigate the contractor vetting and selection process, we’ve created the Complete Guide to Choosing the Right Home Remodeling Contractor. Below, we also share five signs that you’re likely working with (or about to work with) a terrible contractor.
1. Unpleasant Personality
When you first meet someone, you usually have an initial gut reaction to them, be it one of trust or one of dislike. If you get bad vibes from your contractor upon your first meeting, or if he or she seems to have a poor attitude, trust your instincts and keep looking. Even if this home contractor is one of the best in your area, is it really worth putting up with someone who has a sour personality?
Professional contractors realize that for all their skills and abilities, they still depend on their customers and employees to keep the doors of their business open. If they can’t treat you or their team with basic respect, then they simply do not deserve your time or money.
2. Lack of Verification
Before you even reach out to a home contractor for that initial phone call or email, we recommend you do a bit of due diligence beforehand. Specifically, you should verify that this person and their business even exist. Is that a real address, telephone number, professional credentials, and professional membership or license?
There are a lot of scammers out there looking to take advantage of unsuspecting homeowners, and we don’t want you to become a cautionary tale. Even if the business exists and the contractor is licensed, you should be sure to ask for images of past projects and testimonials from past customers. That way, you have a solid idea of what to expect should you decide to hire this individual.
3. Communication Difficulties
While it’s okay to let the phone ring a few times before someone on the other end picks up, it shouldn’t feel like a trial to connect with the home remodeling company you choose to work on your home. When you make that initial call to see about a potential contractor taking on your project, you should wait no more than 24 hours for a response before you move on to someone else – 48 if you’re especially keen to have the contractor work with you.
It’s understandable to have to wait a few hours before you hear back, as it might be an especially busy time. That being said, contractors set a precedent for what you can expect in the future with your initial contact with them. If they’re slow to respond to your request for a quote, they’re likely to be slow with a progress report once the work starts.
4. Necessary Permits are Glossed Over or Ignored
Depending on the changes you have in mind for your home, there’s a chance you’ll need permits to ensure the job is done according to the most current requirements in your area. A contractor who feels permits are optional rather, than a requirement, is a contractor you want to show the door. While you might like the idea of not having to pay for permits, we’re sure you won’t like it when your remodeling project is shut down by a city inspector.
Additionally, you have to think about the fact that permits are required for your safety. Without them, you put yourself and your family at risk. What’s more, permits can be less expensive than the repairs required should a non-permit job go south somewhere down the line.
5. Substantial Upfront Payment
It’s normal for contractors to ask for a percentage of money upfront before kicking things off. What’s not normal is for contractors to request more than 15%, which could be an indication of a non-reputable contractor or bogus company. Know that states have limits on how much contractors can ask for upfront, so do some research to see what the most current limits are in your geographic location. In California, for example, a downpayment may not exceed $1,000 or 10% of the home remodel contract total, whichever is less.
Regardless of whether or not Murray Lampert is a good fit for a particular remodeling project, we want every San Diego homeowner to be treated fairly and understand what to look for when hiring a remodeling contractor. If you’re looking for more information, check out our guide to choosing a remodeling contractor or reach out to us directly.