Given how much capital is at stake with large-scale renovations, it’s only natural that you’d want to hire the most reliable contractors you can find. However, if you have limited experience working with contractors, there are a number of serious red flags that you may miss.
And as anyone who’s ever hired the wrong contractor can attest, this can be a tremendously frustrating experience. To limit your chances of getting stuck with an unobliging, unprofessional contractor, keep an eye out for the following signs.
They Aren’t Licensed
Under no circumstances should you consent to do business with a contractor who isn’t licensed in your jurisdiction. For one thing, putting forth the time and effort to obtain proper licensing serves as an indicator of someone’s dedication to their profession.
It also shows a certain degree of confidence in their skills, as licensed contractors are expected to maintain a certain level of professionalism in order to keep their respective licenses. It should also be noted that being licensed in one state doesn’t mean a contractor is licensed in others, given that the qualifications for licensing vary by state.
So, if a contractor lacks the proper licensing, this raises serious questions about their skills, work ethic and willingness to stand by their work.
Unlike their licensed counterparts, unlicensed contractors have virtually no incentive to provide accurate estimates, stick to budgets or schedules, conduct themselves in a professional manner or see jobs through to completion.
After all, they can’t lose licenses they never had in the first place. Additionally, even if an unlicensed contractor completes a job, you may ultimately have to call in a licensed contractor to correct any errors they’ve made.
Licensed contractors are also easily able to pull various permits from municipalities. Undertaking certain jobs without the proper permits can result in large fines, the work having to be torn down and other less-than-desirable outcomes. Luckily, obtaining certain permits can be a breeze in cities and townships that utilize cutting-edge municipal software.
That being the case, why do people hire unlicensed contractors in the first place? For starters, some people never think to ask for proof of licensing. More commonly, however, people work with unlicensed contractors because their rates tend to be lower than those of licensed contractors.
Still, you get what you pay for, and in the long run, hiring an unlicensed contractor is liable to cause more stress and cost more money than doing business with someone who’s properly licensed.
They Don’t Have Insurance
Working with a contractor who lacks proper insurance can be a costly nightmare. At the very least, every contractor to whom you give your business should have general liability, automobile and workers compensation insurance. In the absence of such coverage, you’re liable to be financially responsible for any damage a contractor causes, as well as the medical bills for any injuries they incur while in your employ.
Unfortunately, as is the case with licensing, many people never think to ask for proof of insurance before committing to do business with a contractor. So, before getting started on any paperwork, take care to request proof of both licensing and insurance.
They Won’t Guarantee Their Work
In light of how much money is being spent, it’s only natural that you’d expect a contractor to guarantee their work for a certain amount of time. Needless to say, if a contractor offers no such guarantees, this should serve as a red flag and raise serious questions about how confident they are in their skills.
So, before committing to do business with a contractor, take some time to read up on your state’s laws concerning contractor warranties, as contractors in your states may be required to guarantee their work for a specific period of time.
It’s easy to see why so many people exercise extreme discernment when hiring contractors. After all, large scale repairs and renovations to homes and businesses are far from inexpensive, and considering how much money is being spent, being selective in your decision-making is perfectly understandable.
That being the case, anyone looking to hire a contractor should familiarize themselves with the most common red flags they should be keeping an eye out for. Equipping yourself with this knowledge can dramatically reduce your chances of giving your business to the wrong contractor.