How to Avoid Getting Ripped Off By Contractors

Navigating your way through the world of independent contractors can be a tricky one, but with a little research and the right amount of common sense, you can make the process far less stressful than it has to be. Here’s a list of tips to get you on the right track:

  1. Never, ever, pay the entire bill up front. Typically, a contractor will want some money up front to cover material costs, anything more should send up a red flag.
  2. Check references. By that, I mean call, do not just read the testimonials. Ask questions like; Were you happy with the finished product? Did the estimate match your final bill? Did they show up when they said they would? Did they finish in the time frame they quoted?
  3. Ask to see copies of their license (based on local laws) their insurance and their bond if needed.
  4. Ask at your local hardware store “Pro Desk” and your local building department. These are the people that interact on a regular basis with contractors and know the good from the bad.
  5. Ask how many projects they have done like yours. When work is scarce, a roofer or framer can suddenly become a contractor.
  6. Set deadlines for each payment along the way. I used to set them based on various inspections. After framing, electrical, plumbing, HVAC and final.

If you have ever watched any of the home remodeling shows on TV, know that the unexpected can happen and it will cost you more. I have personally ripped into walls for an addition to find mold and rotten 2×6’s. I have opened up walls to find “live” wires abandoned from other contractor’s work.

And although this list is not exhaustive, these tips will undoubtedly give you the advantage when it comes to interacting with contractors and contracting companies.

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