I think many people share this common nightmare scenario of hiring a contractor to fulfil their dreams of a beautiful home, yet receiving a very awful experience that costs way too much than it’s worth. As I run my own home improvement company, I know how important it is to make sure my anyone I employ is not a “contractor from hell” and to do this, I must first know how to identify one of these hellish contractors. Below is a list of information that contains my top tips on how to spot a contractor from hell.

  • Do your research – With the vast amount of data we can access in the modern world, this one is a given, yet some people skip this easy step and go straight through to the dodgy contractors. Whether this is taking them on board to work on their house or booking a consultation, this step can be easily skipped with some individual research. Go online and check reviews, see what other people are saying; even check their website as if there are any reviews or evidence of work on there, you can judge their worthiness from that. My pro tip to find anything on a contractor on Google when you’re struggling to find info is to do a specific search on Google by inputting the company or even contractors name in quotation marks. For example, if I wanted to find some info on my company, I could search “Perkins Home Improvement” and it would bring up anything that contains that contractors brand or name. This would be the best, surefire way to find out some info on your contractor prospects.
  • Will they accept a written agreement? – A written agreement is pivotal to keeping your contractor to their word and any contractor who doesn’t want to sign one beforehand is already suspicious. Usually, the contractor should provide some sort of written agreement to protect themselves and the client, so even if they do not have one drawn up then that is also quite fishy.
  • Do they have any references? – Another important one here, as you can get a point of view and a testament to the contractor’s work. If they do not have any and it is for any reason other than them being new, do not trust them. Even if it’s a new contractor you want to take a risk on, you could check the legitimacy of their newness by following my point from tip #1 about the specific Google search.
  • Does it sound too good to be true? – There are a variety of ways a bad contractor could abuse the partnership with their clients, either for more money or less work. Be wary for contractors who offer you incredibly cheap prices as it shows they are unfamiliar with the type of work they’ll be carrying out, either that or they plan to add a lot of expensive add-ons through the duration of the project.
  • Does the contractor ask for too much money up front? – A lot of states allow a maximum of 33% of the total cost of a project as an upfront payment, however, unless it is a cheap project; then the maximum they should ask for is 15%. Anything more than 15% and alarm bells should be ringing in your head as regular contractors could afford the project without needing such a huge upfront cost, whether this is through cash or credit.
  • Do they have the correct permits? Many states require permits for anyone who wants to work on things such as major electrical or plumbing work or structural projects. This is to make sure the contractor carrying out the work is following common building codes, usually, this should also be approved by an inspector to ensure maximum safety. If a contractor does not provide relevant permits, then it shows they may not be very knowledgeable about their field nor are they very safe. 
  • Are they consistently late?Tardiness is unacceptable for work, so the same should apply for contractors. Any professional contractor should ensure they are always on time for any meetings or projects they have, yes the odd accident or emergency crops up now and then, but if this is a consistent pattern of lateness continues then you have a problem. This usually results with your project also being finished later than the predetermined finish date.

One tip that is more important than any of these is this; BE OBSERVANT. Whilst they may not give off any red flags, you should always watch out for dodgy movements on the contractors’ behalf. Little things such as leaving early or disappearing momentarily could be a part of a bigger problem that is yet to be unearthed. The best way to stop any problems before they expand catastrophically is to nip them in the bud and bring up any concerns with your contractor, if you are still not satisfied then you can always turn to an authoritative figure to have the situation sorted out.