What are the signs when a contractor is not what you thought was and when is the time to replace them with a more responsible and reliable one? There have been few times that homeowners have turned to our company to get a job done after another contractor was fired leaving the job halfway done.
Here are 10 red flags to watch for when working with a contractor.
Red flag # 1: Overbilling
It’s not uncommon to see overbilling in the purchase of materials or acquiring materials that are not detailed in the budget. You agreed on a price for a very specific job, and the contract should explain everything in detail. Demand explanations.
Red flag # 2: Drugs and / or alcohol at the job site
This seems to be what nightmares are made of, but there are cases like this: Consuming drugs and alcohol at a job site endangers not only themselves, but everyone else around and even your family members! This single red flag should be sufficient to terminate the contractual relationship immediately.
But you should not have to go to such lengths to realize that your renovation project isn’t on the right track. Most large contracting companies have a zero-tolerance policy for drug and alcohol use at work, but seek advice on how to terminate the contractual relationship without you being affected. If you see substance abuse during work hours, it is the contractor’s 100% direct fault
Red Flag # 3: Excessive Cash Advance Request
It is normal that at the beginning of the project a contractor is given up to 15% of the amount of the project as an advance, but if you see that this requires more than this amount, take this as a red flag. Demand details of each time you are asked for money but use caution.
Red flag # 4: Very low price that looks like a bargain
It is very easy to be tempted to hire a contractor who offers low prices. Unlike other companies they claim they have low prices because you are not paying for expensive overhead and other costs. One of the classic maneuvers is that the contractor begins to add additional costs in items and materials that he had not considered before.
Red flag # 5: Hours of work that do not match
Common story: One day the contractor starts at 8:00 am, the next day at 10:00 am and a week later at 2:00 pm. Worse, the next day he doesn’t even show up to work and you wonder what’s going on!!
This turns out to be one of the most frequent complaints towards contractors: The lack of consistency in the number of hours per week dedicated to your renovation project and the inability to follow a work schedule.
This generally happens when the contractor accepts more work than it can handle and does not have the crews to meet the growing need for work. Now you may be wondering where the contractor is in at 10:00am. Is he running personal errands or are they for your project? Before reacting, ask him and get answers.
Red flag # 6: No contract required? Uh?
A contractor who does not want to sign a contract should be “Red flag # 0”. He might say that for this type of work no contract is needed, but it is not true. From the moment you hire a contractor, there is an exchange of money and services and responsibilities on both sides until the termination of the contract. If you don’t believe this, watch People’s Court or Judge Judy.
Red flag # 7: Poor or no communication at all
Here we come to another of the most common problems of homeowners with contractors. As the owner of the project, you have the right to be informed. If you see that there are communication problems with them, before they get bigger, contact them and ask them to share details of the progress of the project. You have every right since you are the client, and you need to be up-to-date with the progress of the project including eventualities or delays. Remember: It’s your house and your money that are at stake and if should a break in communication happen, it may lead to further delays and additional expenses.
Red flag # 8: Differences between what the contract stipulates and reality
It is good to keep abreast of what is happening in the project, either to be able to react to eventualities as well as to control that the quality of construction stipulated in the contract, is the one that is executed in your project.
Apart from the quality of the construction, it is important to know what materials were detailed in the contract are those used in the project, since it is very easy to disguise a “hare and make it look like a rabbit”. The qualities of materials can make the difference between a project that needs maintenance in two years to one that does not need anything for the next ten years.
Red flag # 9: Bad treatment to workers
It is normal practice in many companies to reward employees who demonstrate initiative and determination. In the same way, an employee who is not well treated by the boss can create resentment towards the employer and produce bad or mediocre results, which is want you want to avoid in your project. We suggest you be attentive to how the contractor treats his workers. If he does it in a poor way, take note if it is repetitive behavior as it may be a reason to have a conversation with him and demand a more cordial treatment of their employees.
Red flag # 10: Handling contingencies
It is known that construction is plagued with unforeseen events and situations that require reaction and quick decision-making on the part of the contractor and in some cases the homeowner. Now let’s think of a hypothetical situation in which the contractor has to solve an urgent problem and is unable to make a decision to remedy the situation. As a consequence, higher expenses and longer completion time are generated.
We don’t mean that a contractor must guarantee the non-appearance of problems and unforeseen situations, what we say that the ideal contractor must have enough experience to react quickly and solve those situations. If you repeatedly find that your contractor can’t make it work, you may need to terminate the contract.
If you need sound advise on your siding project, give us a call at (604)423-2440 or send us an email to by clicking here