How Contractors Trick You
It’s true that contractors get a bad rep. There are many scummy contractors out there. You can find a great one if you keep your guard up, and take the necessary actions it takes to ensure you get an honest, ethical one. There are also great ones though, too. Just to be on the safe side, when scouting out for a contractor, you should watch for these red flags. Read: Building Materials & Supplies at Lowe’s.
Flag: “I need money upfront”
A contractor looking to scam you might will tell you he needs at least half of the money up front. Once you pay him, he either disappears altogether, or does sloppy work. He knows you can’t let him go, because he already has thousands of your dollars. Unfortunately, this practice is not limited to contractors. Generally, when you pay anyone for a service before work is completed there is less of an inclination to do a good job, because that person has already been paid.
Never pay more than thirty-percent at the most of the job upfront. It is enough money to show the contractor that you are able to pay for their services, but small enough to where they have motivation to get the job done right. A lot of people fall into this trick because they “feel bad.” The contractor will convince them that they need more money than this before they begin in order to pay for things ahead of time. Know that if they are experienced, they will have ties with certain companies who provide to them on credit, because they have a good history with them. See: Get Quotes from Real General Contractors.
Flag: “Trust me”
When you first meet with the contractor, he’s very agreeable about all of your needs. However, somewhere along the way, he does little things without discussing them with you, and claims that they were “necessary,” but did not speak to you about them, until after the fact. These “little things” often amount to a pretty penny. Rest assured, that those details he “suggested,” and performed without asking you about, will show up on your bill. See: An Excellent Video on How to Find a Great Contractor.
Flag: “We don’t need a permit”
A contractor is legally required to get a building permit for any construction project that is considered significant. This is so that building officials can come to the site as often as is needed to be sure that the project is meeting any and all safety or building codes. On smaller jobs, an unlicensed contractor might try to tell you that the building officials won’t notice, or that its “not a big deal.” Read: Check a Contractor’s License.
This is the most notorious scam to look out for. This usually comes into play mid-project, and even better, after the job is complete. Suddenly, the price you had previously agreed on is 3x higher than discussed. He will place blame on everything but himself. He will tell you that there were structural problems, or wall damage before he began.
Flag: “I have extra materials I’ll let you have”
This is a great one. Usually this is because they have materials that can’t be returned to a supplier. So they’ll come and drop it off and even quote you a fantastic price. Even if it is a bargain, taking this offer is very risky because you don’t know where these materials came from, and they could break or fall apart in a year or two. Here is a video on how to spot a bad contractor: