Most Common Bad Contractor Signs to Look Out For

Bad contractor stories abound in the news. Home improvement victims who fall prey to a bad contractor largely tell the same story–they thought they were getting a good deal by an experienced individual or team. Instead, all they got was the bad contractor blues, having to hire someone else to clean up what the bad contractor left behind.

The Toll of Hiring a Bad Contractor

It’s not just about broken promises, like missing deadlines, though some who’ve hired a bad contractor wish that would be all they had to deal with. Hiring a bad contractor can certainly mean a lot more. There’s not only missing deadlines, it can mean leaving a job unfinished, not having proper permits and can lead to be entangled in a lawsuit.

Homeowners handing over the reigns to bad contractors could be on the hook for hefty fees and penalties if the work was done without the right permits. Or having to completely redo what was done, because it contained shoddy materials and/or substandard work. In some cases, it can come down to being extorted, the contractor threatening to file a lien if payment isn’t made, regardless of the quality of work. And even if the homeowner is in the right, it means paying a boatload in legal fees to an attorney.

Top Bad Contractor Warning Signs to Heed

If you need to find a quality contractor, you can simply browse our database. For those who want to be in the know, here’s the most telling signs of a bad contractor to look for:

  • No license and/or lack of coverage. States regulate this trade and part of that licensing is demonstrating competency. It also requires certain insurance and/or bonding to practice legally.
  • Really low bid. Everyone likes to find a good deal but the old adage of about being “too good to be true” certainly applies to spotting a bad contractor. Materials and labor will vary somewhat from bid to bid, but there won’t be a huge disparity.
  • Lack of or insufficient references. No references is a big red flag. And someone who only gives vague references or provides references that can’t be checked might be a bad contractor.
  • Inclination to avoid getting permits. Okay, so no one relishes having to deal with bureaucracies, but bad contractors will go out of their way to keep from pulling permits. It can mean the company isn’t licensed and insured or might be operating on a shoestring budget. The bad news is the homeowner will be liable for any work done without permits.

Even More Bad Contractor Warning Signs

  • Skipping written contracts. Legitimate contractors are big on written contracts because they are true professionals and want a guarantee the homeowner will pay as agreed. It’s also the root word to “contractor”.
  • Big deposit requests. Big deposit requests are a big red flag of a bad contractor. The industry standard averages about 30 to 33 percent. A bad contractor might demand much more upfront and that could mean a rob Peter to pay Paul scenario–using payments from one customer to buy materials for another customer’s job.
  • Excess materials. A bad contractor is surely an incompetent contractor if ordering more than the job requires. The question if not incompetent then becomes why. Perhaps to get a discount and spread those excesses over several jobs.

Of course, other signs of a bad contractor is someone using scare tactics and/or being late or absent. Do your homework, and use our database to find the right contractor for your project.

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