6 Red Flags to Look For When Selecting Your Home Renovation Contractor
Renovating your home is an exciting venture to embark on, but selecting the right contractor for the job could, and should, take some time. A good contractor is a busy one. Quality contractors won’t always be available right away for your project. If you call a contractor to get a quick estimate, and they’re ready to get going within a couple of days, you may want to pump the brakes and reconsider.
As thrilling of an idea as customizing your home to fit your needs is, remodelling a house takes careful consideration. And you want your investment to be in the very best hands. You wouldn’t move forward with the medical procedure if you got weird feelings from the doctor, he or she wouldn’t show you past experience and credentials, or the medical team skirted around answering your important questions.
While renovating your home isn’t life-threatening, it is a potential time and wallet drainer. Choosing a home renovation contractor requires following your instincts and paying attention to any red flags.
Here is a list of red flags to look out for when selecting your contractor
1. Your contractor is not responsive
Yes, a busy contractor is a good sign of quality work. However, if they or someone from their team can’t get back in touch with you promptly, you may not be very high on their priority list. People who run a smooth and successful business put practices in place to follow up with potential new clients.
Think of it like getting a date but, you know, for your home. If you reach out once, hear nothing, reach out again, and hear nothing—there is a good chance that you’re dealing with an unorganized contractor who cannot serve your needs well. You shouldn’t have to hound a prospective contractor when you’re the one trusting them with your home and budget.
2. When a contractor provides a vague contract or no contract at all
A handshake is no substitute for a written contract. It is vital to get everything in writing because it legally binds all parties to the details described in the agreement. The paperwork should include all details about the materials used, start and end times, backup plans should an issue or delay occur, and payment schedule associated with milestones or stages, not dates.
There should also be information about the contractor’s business, such as a portion that shows proof of WSIB and commercial liability insurance if they happen to get injured on the job. Also, look for the GST/HST number, which you can search to make sure the business is registered. Without a contract, a contractor is not a contractor. Ask questions about anything you’re unsure about, and don’t sign until you’re absolutely clear about the expectations on both ends.
3. When a contractor says they can do everything
Many contractors have the capacity to take on several big projects at the same time. However, that doesn’t mean they specialize in everything. A good contractor will be honest if they’ve never completed X, Y, or Z projects in the past, and they’ll refer you to someone to better suit your needs. Or they may even say that they have someone on their team who is well-versed in various projects.
Either way, an over-abundance of confidence, or even an air of desperation, from contractors on extreme renovations is not a good sign. Ask questions about their past experience and projects if you get a gut feeling that they are over-exaggerating what they can do. It may be best to move on to the next candidate.
4. When a contractor is unable to provide references
In a perfect world, all contractors would be helpful, fast, honest, and detailed with their work. Unfortunately, some are better than others, which is why it is essential to do research and get firsthand accounts from past clients. Ask your prospective contractor for a list of references and contact information. If they can’t or won’t provide this, avoid moving forward with that contractor.
If you do get a list, some good questions to ask previous clients are: What project did they do? What was your overall experience? Did they follow the terms of the contract? Was communication easy? Do you recommend them?
5. When a contractor has too-good-to-be-true pricing
If you think you snagged a deal when one contractor quotes you $45,000 for a project after another quoted $75,000 for the same work, think again. Hey, we all love a good deal! But, in this case, the saying is true: You get what you pay for. If a contractor has “budget” pricing, they are probably cutting corners on quality, materials, brands, or paying their workers.
When you look at your contract agreement, it should be pages long and detailed. If you feel like a price is too good to be true, it most likely is.
6. When a contractor is not insured
Insurance protects you as a client should something happen while a contractor is working on your project. If a worker is injured on the job or if the contractor fails to pay their workers, insurance will protect you from having to cover those additional costs.
Similarly, licensing laws for tradespeople are in place to protect homeowners from negligence. Ensuring your contractor hires licensed tradespeople is a good way to tell if your contractor is truly qualified to take on your project. No insurance and not hiring licensed tradespeople shows a dire sense of irresponsibility.
Have any questions about hiring a contractor?
We want to help you make the most informed choice for your goals and budget. Contact our team at Gilbert + Burke today for an estimate on your project or download the free Ultimate Home Renovation Guide.