In the past few months we have been called out by homeowners to finish jobs that other contractors have either started and not finished or the homeowner was forced to quit dealing with the contractor because of inferior work and or demands for more money than was quoted originally in one case the homeowners had to borrow more money to complete the project.
More than 15 years in the business and we are sick of seeing this.
Needless to say this is never a pleasant experience for us as a licensed contractor to see people in this situation and as you can well imagine it's far less pleasant for the homeowners to be in this situation. So if we could, we would like to share some advice with you on how to avoid being in this situation.
1: Get quality references and check them, make sure the references are who they say they are. We have run into situations where contractors have given references and it turned out the reference was their buddy or the guy they worked with. Be sure to explain to the reference the type of work you need done and inquire if the contractor you plan to hire has done and is capable of doing the work you require.
2: Don't rush, everyone wants the work done as soon as possible this is understandable but take your time and choose someone you are comfortable working with, if the contractor pushes you to start right away that is a red flag, good contractors are usually busy and it is worth while waiting for them to finish a project rather than rush into your project with someone you don't feel good about
3: Be Involved. Educate yourself .We can't stress this enough. This is your home, your project and your money Ask questions, choose the materials, and ask for updates daily or weekly. The contractor can suggest things to you but at the end of the day this is your home you have to love the finish product and you are the one who has to live there.
4: Don't go for the lowest quote, if two people come in around the same dollar amount and another comes in much lower there is a reason for this, you will get cut corners, inferior products and in most cases when the contract is mostly paid up the contractor will realize he under quoted and ask for more money if the money does not come they walk away leaving you with a nightmare. This is the time when you bring in another contractor and they inform you of all the mistakes the previous company has made
5: Don't over pay, when I say this I mean it in two ways, first make sure the quote is accurate, second never pay more than the work completed, this way you cover yourself if the contractor does walk or you feel you have to remove them you never blew your budget and have money to complete the project without leaving you in distress
6: Have a contract, make sure the contractor has WCB, liability insurance and has a license. This way you cover yourself and have recourse if anything should go wrong.
7: Know your rights, you have the right to hold back 10% for deficient work, you have a right to stop anytime you wish, you have a right to have all work inspected by an engineer, and you have the right not to pay if you feel something is not right
If you follow these guidelines you should be safe, you have to keep in mind this is one of the biggest investments you will make in your life, some work may look fine and 5 years down the road your house is rotting and it costs more for the repairs than the original work cost you.
For the contractors out there just to grab a quick buck, get out of the business. If you can't do the work why say you can? Why take money from innocent people just to better your life and leave them in misery. We have seen these situations lead to divorce, health problems, stress , depression, and people forced to sell their homes, none of this is funny,
There are honest contractors out there please don't judge us all the same, but there are a lot of crooks as well, we hope we have helped you in some way avoid these types of people.
Best of luck on your projects!