7 Signs Of A Bad Contractor

AAA Print

If you’re planning to remodel or add onto your home, you have likely heard what a traumatic experience it can be. Remodeling does create a mess, it's inconvenient, it’s going to be expensive and you can expect it to be noisy. While none of these options are particularly pleasant, the following signs may mean you wound up with a bad contractor.

The Contractor Doesn’t Show Up

The number one homeowner complaint regarding contractors is failure to show up when they say they will. Whether your contractor got halfway through the job then disappeared, or never showed up to get started, it is incredibly frustrating to deal with. Before starting your project, get scheduled dates in writing, and get a daily update from your contractor as the work progresses. Be sure you have your contractor’s office and cell number, and call if he does not show up on a scheduled day.

The Job Takes Far Longer Than Promised

If you were told your project would take two weeks, but it’s been two months and the end is not in sight, you probably feel like tearing out your hair. Be sure that the project start and finish date are clearly defined in the contract, and if it is a large job, consider a penalty charge if construction misses the deadline. While delays can happen due to unforeseen issues or complications, your timeline shouldn’t dramatically lengthen without a solid reason.

The Price Keeps Changing

Though unexpected issues might legitimately cause the contractor to have to raise the price during your remodel, any such instances should be agreed upon before work continues. Avoid unpleasant surprises when the bill comes due by having all expenses for the job listed in the contract before you sign. Never pay the full amount upfront. Depending on the size of your job, it is typical to pay 1/3 the agreed-upon price when signing the contract, 1/3 around halfway through the project, and the remaining 1/3 when the project is complete.

The Work Is Shoddy Or Entirely Wrong

Tell the contractor immediately if you feel the quality of work is unacceptable, or if your instructions are not being followed. Go over the issue with the contractor, explaining your concerns firmly but politely. Reputable contractors will have a quality guarantee, and will quickly take care of any work that is not up to par. Before signing a contract, call several of the contractor’s references, and inquire about the quality of work, and if the results met with their specifications. Ask references if they are pleased with their remodels, and if they would work with the contractor again.

You Never Know Who to Expect

If you are doing a major addition, you should expect a variety of subcontractors to be working on your project. A different person might handle insulation, dry wall, electrical, plumbing, and painting. Your general contractor should spell out in the contract what work he will handle personally, and what subcontractors will do. He should also keep you informed on who will be at your home each day.

The Contractor Leaves A Mess

Though you expect some dust and disarray while your project is underway, you shouldn’t be left with a disaster zone once things are completed. Before the first hammer starts swinging, have details of the cleanup spelled out in your contract. Trash and debris should be removed, paint or other chemicals disposed of, and large items should be hauled away. Your addition or remodeled area should be left swept, free of dust, clean and ready to use.

Something Goes Wrong After Work is Done

If something goes wrong with your remodel a month down the line, you want to be able to get in touch with the contractor. A leaky roof, a burst pipe, a door that refuses to close smoothly… problems can occur that are not immediately apparent upon completion of the job. Your contract should include a warranty on all work performed by the contractor. If your job was large, such as a room addition, a new roof, or major kitchen work, a one-year warranty is customary. Smaller jobs might have 30 to 90 day warranties, but be sure the length of time is clearly spelled out in the signed contract. The work is brand new and shouldn’t give you problems anytime soon after completion.

While a major remodel or addition is probably never going to be fun to live through, it doesn’t have to be a nightmare. Make sure you have everything in writing before the job begins, and stay in close contact with your contractor throughout the project. When it’s all over, you’ll enjoy your beautiful home.

Last Updated: July 19, 2012
AAA Print

About Michelle Ullman Michelle Ullman has lived and gardened in Southern California since childhood. A freelance writer, she covers topics ranging from gardening to home improvement to health issues. She also has experience as a catalog copywriter and poet. Michelle has trained and worked as a respiratory therapist and surgical technologist, but prefers to spend her time gardening, and walking with her dog. Michelle holds a Bachelor's Degree from Redlands University in Business Management. 

Note: The information provided on this site may be provided by third parties. The owners and operators of this site do not guarantee the accuracy, completeness, and compliance of the content on this site. Such content is not and shall not be deemed tax, legal, financial, or other advice, and we encourage you to confirm the accuracy of the content. Use is at your own risk, and use of this site shall be deemed acceptance of the above.