5 Red Flags – “How to Hire A Contractor” Tips
If there’s one quotation that sums up the purpose of our magazine it’s this:
“If you think hiring a professional is expensive, wait until you hire an amateur.” (A firefighter named Red Adair first said that.)
That quote really resonates with a lot of Atlanta homeowners. Maybe even you! If you’ve ever been burned by a home improvement “professional” who promised the moon but delivered dust, you know how important it is to sniff out those amateurs early.
So we turned to Jesse Morado, Executive Director of National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) Atlanta, to help you be on the lookout for any red flags that might indicate the person you are thinking of hiring might be a dud.
Here are his top five red flags:
1. Minimal Years in Business—You want to be working with a company who has been in business at least five years. Research shows that most businesses fail in their first 5 years of business. You don’t want some amateur cutting their teeth on your home!
2. First Timer—You don’t want to hire a contractor to, for instance, build an addition unless they’ve done an addition before. Not a good idea to be the test project for an inexperienced contractor. Make sure they have constructed your type of project before.
3. Short, Vague Contract—A solid contract should spell out a scope of work, identify specific materials and include a draw schedule. It should communicate how disputes, termination, changes, etc. are to be managed. There are also state required contract terms that your average office supply store template will not cover.
4. Lack of License—If your contractor cannot produce the required contractor license, they cannot secure a building permit. If your contractor is a Georgia remodeler a state contractor’s license is required. (Specialty contractors such as painters and roofers are not required to be licensed.) A non-licensed contractor will usually ask the homeowner to pull the permits, or forego them altogether. Beware!
5. 30-50 Percent Upfront—Unless the project is very small, a request for a deposit of more than 10 percent should sound an alarm. I am amazed that in 2015 homeowners still continue to give contractors huge amounts of money up front. If you insist on using someone who requires 30 percent or more upfront, at least use a credit card. This way, you can challenge the charge if the guy fails to deliver!
Unfortunately, there are a lot of under-qualified people out there ready and willing to take your money. It’s up to you to educate and arm yourself against being taken advantage of!