When you think you’ve found a general contractor who’s too good to be true, they probably are. Fortunately, this only describes a small percentage of contractors and they’re pretty easy to spot. Once you learn how to do so, you’ll also be able to find an honest, organized, solvent, hardworking, experienced person to manage your job.
How to Identify Red Flags Before the Work Even Begins
Don’t allow yourself to be taken in by a bad general contractor because they won’t invest the time or money you need for your project to be completed properly. Instead, you’ll want to get rid of them as soon as you spot them. Some of the telltale red flags you should watch for include:
- Shabby equipment, a general contractor who has a poor personal appearance, or vehicles that are in poor repair: While they don’t need to have uniforms, new trucks, or the latest cell phones and laptops, they do need to present themselves in a professional manner.
- A low-ball offer or a “special low price” should never be acceptable. A good contractor will carefully review your job before making the correct bid.
- Second-rate materials: Small contractors rarely buy anything in bulk so they won’t be able to pass along any discounts to you.
- Requiring you to make a large down payment upfront (over 20%) before any work begins
- Requiring you to pay them in cash means they’re probably doing something shady – like not paying taxes or for insurance.
- Not having an actual physical office address (more than just a P.O. box; even if it’s a home office) or references means they’re probably trying to hide something
- Offering you a “limited time offer” or trying to strong arm you into immediately signing a contract is against the law in most states as they require “a cooling off period,” which typically lasts for three days after you’ve signed the contract.
How to Identify Red Flags When the Work Begins
There are some contractors who may pass your initial litmus test, but once the work begins you’re not necessarily home free with them. In fact, their dirty laundry typically becomes more evident once the work begins. You shouldn’t be reluctant to act on these concerns as soon as you see them. Even though you already signed the contract, you can’t sit back and expect things to get better. Some of the signs you need to act on immediately (before things get worse – and they will) include:
- Unexpected price hikes should never occur because your contract should be firm in the first place.
- Changes to the contract also should never occur after it’s signed unless a large, unforeseeable issue arises.
- The use of subpar materials is something you must watch for throughout the entire project.
- Complaints from contractors that they’re not getting paid by your general contractor means something shady is happening.
Finding the “Perfect” General Contractor
Once you wade through all these telltale signs and find someone you wish to work with, make sure you still take the time to document everything. By maintaining a job journal (a few notes each day), you have a record of the progress and any problems you encounter along the way. It’s also a good idea to take some pictures at various stages of the job.
When you need to work with an honest general contractor, make sure you contact us at Hybrid Construction LLC. We’ve been doing business with many highly-satisfied customers over the years. You won’t need to worry about contacting the Better Business Bureau, the local building inspector, the state attorney general’s office, or getting a lawyer. Instead, you’ll have your work done the way you want it and on time. So, instead of wondering if you’ll be fooled, contact us and know we’re fool-proof.
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