If you’re a real estate investor, you know that working with the right contractor is crucial to your profitability and success. Working with the wrong one will not only waste your time and money, but can put your entire project at risk. We spoke with industry pros to determine the top warning signs that you hired a bad contractor.
Here are the 25 signs that they’re not the right contractor, according to the pros:
1. They Constantly Make Excuses
Tonya Bruin, CEO, To Do-Done Renovations
It’s common for every real estate project to have some issues at a certain point, and good contractors are proactive enough to smooth things out before they get worse. However, if the contractor is not into fixing things but just good at making excuses, then this is a great warning sign that you hired a bad contractor.
For more information on the best way to hire a contractor, check out our article on how to hire a general contractor.
2. They Have Significantly Lower Prices than Competitors
Kevin Ahern, President, Litchfield Builders, Inc.
When it comes to construction and home improvement, the lowest bid is rarely the best option. A contractor who offers a significantly lower price compared with other contractors may be cutting corners by using cheap labor or materials. Watch out for contractors who underbid their competitors by dramatic margins. A good, reliable contractor knows how to price themselves reasonably.
3. They Don’t Like Written Agreements
Justin Lavelle, Chief Communications Officer, BeenVerified
If the contractor likes making verbal agreements but is hesitant when you ask him to include what you agreed in the contract, then there’s a big chance that he won’t stay true to his word. It’s best to put everything in writing, no matter how small and insignificant you think something is. Don’t work with someone who doesn’t want a written agreement, as he may not fulfill his end of the bargain.
4. They Only Want to Communicate via Phone Calls
Rae Dolan, Owner, AMI House Buyers
Beware of any contractor who always wants to just communicate via phone calls. If he doesn’t make time to meet up with you to discuss your project, then he may not be the right contractor. In case something goes wrong, you can already expect that he will just discuss things over the phone. It may not be a very effective way of communicating, especially when a big project is involved.
5. They Don’t Answer Your Questions
Eric Pinto, CEO/Founder, Mackenzie Consulting
If the contractor you’re dealing with can’t answer the questions you’re asking or doesn’t seem to have advanced technical knowledge, he is not the right contractor in the first place. There are some contractors who lack the necessary knowledge and experience and just fake being an expert at something. It’s best to be very meticulous about this and test your new potential contractor just to be sure.
6. They’re Not Comfortable Providing You with References
Aneel Mattu, Digital Marketing Specialist, Square One Insurance Services Inc.
A credible contractor should have no problem providing multiple references. If you’re dealing with a contractor who is not comfortable providing you with the names and contact details of his past clients, then there’s a big possibility that he doesn’t have a very great reputation among his old clients and he doesn’t want you to find out.
7. They Are Unlicensed
Jim Iorio, Real Estate Investor, FastCash4FLHouses.com
A reputable contractor should be licensed and works legally. If the contractor often makes excuses about his license, like having delays with the renewal or still lacking some requirements, then he is not the right one. Before hiring a contractor, it’s best to ensure that his license is in place. Do not fall into the “special discounts” trap he will give you just because he is still “renewing” his license.
8. They Are Often Late to Meetings
Teris Pantazes, Co-Founder, EFynch.com
A good contractor should be professional and prompt in meetings. If the contractor is always late, it’s a big indicator that he doesn’t know how to properly manage his time. You can expect that he will also finish your project late and will not stay true to his timetable.
9. They Don’t Have Good Reviews
Anita Clark, Owner, Warner Robins Real Estate Blog
If they don’t have good reviews and customer feedback, then they might not be the right contractor to work with. Always check their online reviews first. Find reliable online review sources such as the Better Business Bureau, Angie’s List, HomeAdvisor, Porch, Yelp, Thumbtack, and even Google reviews and the reviews on their Facebook page.
10. They Lack the Necessary Experience
Bobby Montagne, CEO, Walnut Street Finance
Experience is one of the most important qualities to look for in a contractor. It’s important to work with someone who has sufficient and relevant experience for the kind of job that you require. Often, if the contractor is new and doesn’t have enough experience, he might also lack the necessary skills to do the job well.
11. You Get a Bad Feeling About Them
Jeremy Strickland, Assistant Operations Manager, Randy’s Carpet Care
If you feel that you don’t like the contractor you’re talking to, then chances are you won’t. The reason for not liking them doesn’t really matter. Just don’t work with someone who rubs you the wrong way. It’s better to work with a contractor whom you have good vibes with than one you don’t.
12. They Have Poor Interpersonal & Social Skills
Paul DeFeis, Managing Partner, Trademark Interiors
Working with a contractor means you will be communicating with them often and will be spending a great deal of time with them. If the contractor has poor interpersonal and social skills, it can be a challenge working with them effectively. If the contractor doesn’t know how to mingle and interact socially, it could be a sign that he’s a difficult person to deal with.
13. They Don’t Provide a Detailed Breakdown of Costs
Andrew Zheng, Marketing Director, Unique Wood Floor
Watch out for contractors who send the entire cost estimate with a single number only. An estimate should always indicate the breakdown of the costs of the individual line items, i.e., a detailed list of what you can expect to receive. If your contractor doesn’t like to provide further details on the cost, it’s time to find another one.
14. They Don’t Have the Right Tools for the Job
Jillian Quint, VP of Content, PureWow
If the contractor shows up at the site without the right tools, it’s a warning sign that he doesn’t know how to do his job properly. Make sure to include the work that needs to be done and what materials/tools should be used in the contract. A reliable contractor should have the right tools for the job; if he doesn’t, you’re better off finding another one.
15. They Show a Lack of Enthusiasm
Mike Holmes, Author, National Post
No matter how small the job, a contractor should be enthusiastic about doing it the best way he knows how. If he shows up with just a clipboard and is reluctant to answer your questions, it could be that he’s not really interested in the job, or he doesn’t really care about your project at all. Either way, you’re just wasting your time.
16. They Constantly Miss Deadlines
Ken Meyer, President, Trust Deed Capital
If your contractor is consistent in missing deadlines and there are other signs that work isn’t progressing as it should, it’s a red flag that you’ve hired a bad one. As a real estate investor, time is very important to make money off your investment. If you see this sign early on, it’s best to terminate your contract with the contractor and find a better one.
17. They Make Too Many Promises
Lisa Gordon, Real Estate Author, Realtor.com
Beware of contractors who offer too many promises, such as offering a substantially lower cost and too quick delivery of service. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. All agreements should be included in the contract. If it’s just verbal promises, then he will most likely break them.
18. They Can Provide Quotes Immediately
Tracy Tresmer, Owner, Tracy Tresmer Design/Remodeling
Bad contractors can provide you with quotes too quickly without giving much thought about the specifics of the project. This is a sign that they are in a hurry to close the deal, and it’s almost always not a good sign. Stay clear of contractors who can produce an estimate out of the blue without even knowing what exactly you want to happen on your project.
19. Blaming Others When Problems Arise
Do Hard Money, Staff Writer, DoHardMoney.com
If the contractor is often reactive rather than proactive, it’s an obvious red flag that he’s not a good one. A contractor who loves to put the blame on another when problems arise is defensive. According to DoHardMoney.com, contractors who are not inclined to take ownership of a problem just want to play the blame-game, and you can’t expect them to fix issues when they arise.
20. They Rely on High-Pressure Sales Tactics
Alyson McNutt English, Staff Writer, HGTV.com
One red flag to watch out for is if a contractor uses high-pressure sales tactics on you. An example of this is when they are being too pushy, or when they use the temporary special discount rate method. HGTV warns against contractors pressuring their clients to make a decision right away. Often, they are the bad ones.
21. They Have Trouble Getting Permits
Fit Small Business, Staff, FitSmallBusiness.com
Reliable contractors must be well-versed with local area permits. Beware of contractors who try to let you handle the process of securing permits because this should be part of their job. If they do not know how to do this, it is a red flag that you should find someone else who is more experienced and can be trusted.
22. They Aren’t Very Responsive
DDT Home Pros, Staff Writer, DDT Home Transformations
According to DDT Home Transformations, contractors who often fail to respond to your voicemail, text messages, or email are quite suspicious. It can be a red flag that something is not right. No matter how busy a contractor is, he should always find a way to give you a response. Unresponsive contractors have problems with communicating, and it may not be good for your project.
23. No Online Presence
Top Bottom Construction Inc., Staff Writer, Top to Bottom Construction Inc.
Reputable contractors have an online presence. Top to Bottom Construction Inc. warns against dealing with contractors who do not have a web presence and online reputation. A good contractor should have a website, social media accounts, and online reviews on sites like Google+, Angie’s List, and Yelp. If you cannot find them online, then their reputation is questionable.
24. They Don’t Follow the Guidelines in Your Contract
Garth Sundem, Staff Writer, How Stuff Works
Your contract is a binding agreement between you and the contractor that spells out how exactly the work should be done. According to HowStuffWorks.com, if the contractor doesn’t follow the guidelines stated in the contract, and if the work is being done differently, it’s a big warning sign that you are working with a bad contractor.
Even the most careful, skillful workers can experience a freak accident. You don’t want to be held liable in any way, so it’s best to work with a contractor who is insured. If the contractor cannot provide proof of sufficient coverage (including workers’ compensation insurance), it’s a red flag that their business is questionable.
Finding the right contractor can be a challenge. It’s important to work with a good and credible contractor to ensure that your real estate project is successful. Be mindful of the above red flags of a bad contractor, and make sure to stay away from them as soon as you notice one of these warning signs.