Do you have a nightmare contractor story you would like to share? I would love to hear it. Leave your story in the comment section below or submit your story via email on the Contact Us page.
It seems that almost every week I hear another nightmare contractor story from clients. The “best” story lately was from homeowners who hired a landscape contractor to work on their yard. The contractor convinced them to pay the bid amount up front and promised them the job would be done in two weeks. After receiving the full bid amount from the homeowners, the contractor walked with their money and did none of the work. At that point the homeowners contacted the BBB (Better Business Bureau) and the State Division of Professional Licensing only to find that the contractor had numerous complaints and no contractor’s license. When I asked them why they hadn’t taken legal action they said that they felt embarrassed by their mistake and fearful what the contractor would do if they brought legal actions. They lost thousands of dollars in this exchange. I felt bad for these homeowners and this is a heartbreaking story, but there are a number of things that they did wrong in their interaction with what I would call a “dirtbag” contractor. Contractors like this reflect on all of us in the industry and it upsets me that someone like this would take advantage of hard working honest people.
When dealing with contractors let me offer you a few tips:
- Check with your family, neighbors, and co-workers to see if they know a good contractor who does the type of work you need. If you see work that you are impressed with ask the owner who did the work and if they were happy with the contractor. In my mind this is the best way to find a good contractor.
- When you find a contractor check with the BBB to see if there are complaints.
- Check the standing of the contractor with your state’s Division of Professional Licensing.
- Never pay the contractor more than 1/2 of the bid amount up front.
- Don’t pay the remaining balance of the bid or contract price until you are happy with the results. This is the only leverage you have over the contractor. Good contractors will try to make you happy and do things right, they value their reputation.
- Don’t let the contractor get the hook in and leave you hanging. What this means is some contractors will get a job, get half in advance, start the job, and then leave you to find more work. What are you going to do? You are on the hook. On the flip side, most contractors have multiple jobs going at once, and problems and delays are a reality of doing business for them. But good contractors will keep you updated with what their schedule is. I find in my business that customers understand this but just want the courtesy of knowing what is going on.
- If the contractor is working by the hour, get a ballpark price if you can.
- Remember, stuff happens. Problems arise that neither you nor the contractor has anticipated. A good contractor will thoroughly explain this to you and will explain what additional materials and labor are needed to correct the problem.
- Even with a checklist there is a chance you could get a bad contractor. My advice here is to go with your gut. If you have an uneasy or ambivalent feeling about a contractor, don’t do it, keep looking.
So thanks in advance for taking the time to leave your “Nightmare Contractor Story” and I can’t wait to read it.