7 Red Flags of a Bad Contractor You Should NOT Ignore


When you contract, you can encounter the good, the bad, and the horror. From my experience, a modest percentage of 20% of contractors stand out as good ones. These are professional people holding licenses and insurance; they have the right skills and experience and operate with integrity. They do care about their work and how their performance impacts the client. As they always strive to get things right, these are the contractors you want to hire, and yes, they do exist. Luckily, I had the pleasure of working with many.

On the other hand, we have the bad category occupying 70%. They lack knowledge and motivation, don’t care about doing things properly, and the permits are unnecessary from their perspective. They will most certainly leave clutter everywhere and may use your laundry basket as a trash can as well. You won’t really like to work with them, but trust me, worse is possible.

The horror ones! The rest is left for the worst of the worst. They try to get as much money as possible for the bare minimum. In the end, you may realize that their work was not only poor the whole time, but there are flaws and issues you will need to fix with someone else. They deny the issues at an expert level, causing a lot of frustration. I’ve encountered some of these scammers too, and I hope you won’t get to be in this position.

I’ve seen too many families struggling with bad renovations. I was in the position to fix these jobs with my team, and I’m tired of coming across these horror stories. Imagine a contractor does sloppy work, leaves a mess everywhere, and after all, he also enters your home at 10 p.m. using the key you provided. This happened to one of my clients, and that’s the perfect example of crossing the line. There are some other ones.

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1. Switching names – a sign of a bad contractor

Usually, they choose to cover the tracks by changing company names. You should ask them how long they’ve been in business and how long they’ve owned the company. If the numbers don’t sync, you can go for corporate outreach. Do some research on their social media reviews and see what jobs they worked on before, if possible.

Most importantly, trust your intuition when you’re interviewing a contractor. Don’t get fooled by high-pressure tactics, and remember, it takes time to find a good contractor. Keep in mind that choosing the wrong one will leave you with a mess to fix.

2. Full Payment Upfront

Every client decides with his contractor the way the payment is going to be done, and it should be related to project milestones. The most common method is to pay step-by-step as the work is done. When you hear about an upfront payment, you better run. They don’t have any right to ask you for a full payment upfront, and this attitude is tied to scams.

On the other hand, I would also worry about a client who is available to start work right away. This is a red flag for them not being currently contracted, so if the start date is tomorrow, you should be aware of some bad work and add more questions or find someone else.

3. They don’t wear PPE.

Consider that when your home is under renovation, it’s a workplace, a worksite. It’s probably not your job to think about the workers’ safety because you’re only the homeowner, but you should be aware of the basics.

You could be liable in case of an injury or dangerous situation, so if you see the team not working protection gear, this is a serious reason to worry and speak up about the situation. When the work has already started, it’s a little too late, so, with that being said, make sure your contractor has a policy including health and safety before you hire them.

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4. No license or insurance?

We love to hire recommendations. This makes it easier for us to avoid problems and think we’ll get the work done properly. So there are some plausible reasons for people to get a friend of a friend to do a renovation. Keep in mind that friendly behavior doesn’t mean the rules don’t exist anymore.

First things first, I’d like to share with you that some of the worst jobs I’ve seen were done by a friend of a homeowner. You can choose an acquaintance, but it would be amazing for them to have a license and insurance coverage for the team. Keep in mind that what happens on your property becomes your responsibility. So it’s your choice if you want to be held liable for a contractor who chose no insurance to save some bucks.

5. They leave a mess.

We hear all the time stories about the mess workers leave behind and how you can’t recognize your own home at the end of the day. One of the responsibilities of a contractor should be keeping safety in check, and this includes keeping the site clean and free of debris. Along with these, the floor surface must be kept clean and safe, not even slippery.

The walkways, stairs, and traffic paths should be decluttered, and that’s on them. Keep in mind that site accidents are too common, and safety should come first. A good contractor always does all the work needed to keep the site clean.

You can order outdoor garbage cans with wheels via Amazon, so your job of providing a place to deposit the trash is done.

6. A job done in a rush

I know you want fast results in your remodeling projects, and you want to use your brand-new furniture as soon as possible. But when it comes to skipping steps, the fast results can lead to future problems. Give the contractors the time that they need to get the work done properly, and don’t try to rush to finish the job.

Most importantly, if they finish the job earlier than expected or you suspect that they are doing a fast job to get rid of you fast, address the issue and make sure the site is investigated to not wake up with poor construction that you need to fix later.

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7. “No need for permits.”

I tell you what you don’t need. You don’t need to have the work taken down and start over because the team working for you lacks proper paper. Because you are the homeowner, it is your job to make sure you have proper permits for any job you want to get done. If the city gets wind of the work and you don’t have documents, you may encounter serious trouble that translates to a lot of time and money wasted.

The contract you sign with professionals can stipulate that the contractor is responsible for getting the right permits, and that’s ok. But when they make comments about how permits are a scam to get money and claim you’re better without them, find a new contractor.

If you liked our article about how to choose a good contractor, here is one on Making the Most of Your Dressing Room With These 10 Hacks.

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