Choosing a contractor for your remodeling project is a delicate—and sometimes demanding—process. With a lot of money and time at stake, it’s essential to find home remodeling contractors you can trust with the task of overseeing the entire process, from ordering supplies to coordinating teams and managing construction.
If you want a successful and stress-free home remodel that won’t break your investment range—and your schedule—you need to be careful with whom you hire. There are certain red flags that will tell you, pretty clearly, that the home remodeling contractor you’re considering is not for you. We’ve got 3 clear, common warning signs that you should definitely not ignore.
Red Flag #1 Bad Comments from Previous Clients
Experienced home remodeling contractors should have a decent number of previous clients. With any luck, most of them will be within your local area. Reach out to these people to get legitimate feedback regarding the contractor you’re considering. The more recent the project, the better. This way, you get a decent picture of their current weaknesses, strengths, policies, and (most importantly) attitude.
When you find several remodeling contractors that seem promising, you can then ask them for important documents to verify their legitimacy and expertise; licenses, insurance certificates, project permits, possible awards, etc.
If previous clients have nothing good to say about the contractor, or else they didn’t find their work particularly excellent or striking, best move on to the next candidate.
Red Flag #2 Requests a Large Down Payment
In August 2012, the Contractor’s State License Board (CSLB) published a press release warning consumers not to pay more than 10% upfront of their total home improvement contract price. There is a legal limit for down payments regarding home improvements and remodeling, and 10% of the given contract or $1,000 (whichever is less) is the maximum a homeowner can legally pay before the contractor begins work.
If the home remodeling contractor asks for a large payment upfront, it’s highly likely that they’re unlicensed, and therefore not familiar with this aspect of California contracting law. Basically, they’re the last person you want working on your home. A licensed contractor would be aware of all CSLB lays pertaining to payment and payment schedules.
Red Flag #3 High-Pressure Sales Strategies
Another sign to watch out for when choosing home remodeling contractors is high-pressure sales strategies and “used car salesman” tactics. For instance; ridiculously low rates, guarantees that are almost too good to be true, tons of “freebies,” desperate bargaining just to secure the job… you get the picture.
It’s normal for prices to change over the course of a month or more since the cost of materials can fluctuate depending on market demand. However, if the rates the contractor is offering you don’t fit with the current average prices of the industry, be on guard.
And yes; the ultimate goal of every business is to secure customers. However, smart, honest salesmen know how to take “no” or “not now” for an answer. If they’re insistent that you hire them—or borderline pushy, even—give them a firm “no, thank you,” and then get out of there.
As long as people are willing to settle with low-quality, unlicensed home remodeling contractors just to save a few bucks on their project, you can expect to see more construction horror stories in the future. Be a wise homeowner; only trust a licensed and experienced contractor for your next renovation.