How To Spot a Bad Contractor Before It’s Too Late

What to do if you’re trapped with a terrible contractor… and how to prevent it

People are often unaware that hiring a general contractor to repair their home is a difficult and risky venture. The renovation procedure appears to be rather straightforward: pick what you want to accomplish, solicit bids from local contractors, select your favorite, and get started.

Unfortunately, this is rarely the case… This is why more than fifty percent of homeowners report unfavorable experiences with their remodel or problems with a poor contractor.

If you haven’t yet engaged a contractor, there are a few extremely crucial steps you can take to guarantee you don’t wind up with a lousy contractor who you may need to fire later. I recommend that you read my blog post about the procedures to follow to ensure that you select an excellent contractor.

Steps to Take When Screening a Contractor

Checking the contractor’s license with the state board, ensuring they have all required forms of insurance, reviewing their web ratings/reviews, and contacting their references are the most crucial stages.

If you want to be even more thorough in order to reduce the probability of a contractor disagreement, have a look at the ten steps of vetting GreatBuildz takes when researching possible contractors. In addition, before you engage a contractor and begin your project, there are certain secrets about working with contractors and helpful renovation recommendations you should be aware of.

The Disparity in Homeowner and Contractor Knowledge

When planning to engage a renovation contractor, most individuals do not consider one of the most important aspects of the relationship with their builder.

They are unaware of the underlying imbalance between contractor and customer.I refer to this as a knowledge imbalance because the contractor typically has a vast amount of construction expertise while the client typically has very little. This mismatch makes it easy for a dishonest contractor to deceive a client regarding costs, quality, materials, etc., and the consumer has no way of knowing.

A homeowner’s insufficient knowledge of construction prevents them from determining whether the contractor’s job is completed well and using quality materials. A client frequently has limited remedies if a contractor performs substandard work, does not complete the project, or acts unethically.

How to Recognize an Unreliable Contractor Before It’s Too Late 

If you’re already engaged with a substandard contractor and disappointed with your experience, you’re likely dealing with one of the four most typical contractor issues: additional expenditures, project delays, poor craftsmanship, or poor communication (or a combination of these).

Extra Charges

Occasionally, unscrupulous contractors would submit a low bid for a project with the intention of ‘making up the profit’ through change orders (extra costs), which enrages clients.

If a homeowner is in the middle of a project and the contractor needs a modification order to proceed, the homeowner has little ability to negotiate a fair price. If the contractor offers a price that the customer considers exorbitant, the client’s sole option is to cease the project and find a cheaper alternative, which is often an impractical solution.

In the next blogs in this series, which will be published in a few weeks, I will discuss how to deal with a substandard contractor who is requesting unjustified extra expenses.

Project Delays

A certain degree of project delay is unavoidable, and homeowners should anticipate it. However, unscrupulous contractors will take on too many projects at once, fully aware that this will result in project delays for one or more of those projects.

Some contractors mismanage their crews or are overextended, causing them to withdraw personnel from one task to work on another, frequently delaying the completion of a client’s project.

Next week, check out the next part in this series to learn what to do if you’re having an issue with a contractor related to project delays, including warning letter samples you may write to your contractor.

Shoddy Work

This issue is less clear because the client and the contractor may have different conceptions of what constitutes a “excellent” final result.

Some contractors will observe bad work, whether it is part of their labor or an existing problem, but will remain silent in the hopes that the client will not notice.

The client recognizes the bad workmanship at the conclusion of the project, but it is now difficult to address because the project is complete.

Alternately, a contractor may use whatever materials happen to be on the back of their truck, regardless of whether they are the appropriate part for the project or even used/damaged.

Poor Communication

Like the rest of us, contractors are often too busy with work, family, etc. to respond immediately to all clients. In spite of this, some subpar contractors appear to place no importance on client communication.

They do not update clients on the status of the project and are unresponsive to their calls, messages, and emails. The homeowner feels that the contractor has no regard for his or her time, the job, the contract, or the significant amount of money the customer is paying.

If you continue to experience the same problem with your contractor, you may wish to send them a “warning letter” that restates your concerns and expectations and informs them of the remedies you will seek if the problem is not resolved.

I Must Fire My Contractor.

If you’ve determined that your terrible contractor is affecting your life, you no longer want them in your home, and you must fire them, there are a few actions you should take.

First, you must carefully review the contract you signed with them to determine if it contains wording regarding termination, etc. If you are concerned about the legal and financial consequences of terminating a contractor, you may choose to consult with a construction attorney.

When it comes time to actually dismiss the contractor, you’ll frequently find that the contractor is also prepared to cancel the job (given the troubles you’ve had with them). Typically, the disagreement concerns the amount of money owing to the contractor for work accomplished to date.

The contractor will likely want to be paid more than you believe is appropriate, but it is essential that you negotiate and settle on this price, even if it exceeds your expectations.

Unfortunately, if you withhold payment, the contractor may sue you or place a Mechanic’s Lien on your property, both of which may cause you a great deal of trouble in the near future.

Finally, when you reach an agreement and make the final payment to the contractor, you should document in writing that all parties agree to the contract’s termination and that the contractor has been paid in full.

Consult a lawyer if you want to ensure that this is done in accordance with the law. Here you can discover additional information regarding reasons to fire your contractor: When To Fire Your Contractor for Remodeling

How to Recognize an Unreliable Contractor Before It’s Too Late

If your contractor left or ceased showing up to work, or if you’ve completed your project but are dissatisfied with the outcomes, you have multiple options for obtaining “revenge” against a poor contractor. Keep in mind that none of these will be quick, simple, or painless, so sometimes the best course of action is to simply accept the consequences and learn from your mistakes.

The first and easiest step is to post a negative review on one or more websites such as Yelp or the Better Business Bureau. It will not fix any problems, but it may make you feel better and discourage other prospective clients from making the same errors. If you believe that your property was damaged or that the contractor performed substandard work, you can submit a claim against their Surety Bond. This will be a lengthy and complicated procedure, and you may never receive payment.

Alternately, you can report a contractor to the state licensing board for contractors. Depending on the state, their personnel may assist you in attempting to mediate a settlement with the contractor.

Depending on the amount of your claim, you can sue a contractor in either small claims court or superior court.

If you are in the midst of a renovation project and are experiencing issues with your contractor, you are not alone. However, common annoyances do not necessarily indicate a poor contractor. Home remodeling demands a great deal of patience and tolerance.

You must accept that your renovation will not be ideal and will cost and take longer than anticipated. Therefore, if your expenses or timeline have increased by 10 to 20% relative to the initial budget, this is likely within the average range for construction. However, if your project is significantly more expensive or taking significantly longer than expected, you may have engaged a poor contractor.

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