Ten “Tells” to Trouble When Securing a Home Improvement Contractor

In the game of poker, a “tell” is an unintentional give-away by an drywall repair company liberty lake wa. Maybe the player always scratches her ear when she has a good hand, or maybe he looks at his hole cards three times before betting, indicating a lack of confidence – perhaps.

 “Tells” are not guarantees, but they are indications and signals, so here are my favorite ten home improvement tells to help you sort the good from the bad.  

1Look at the contractors truck:

When I hire a contractor, this is the first thing I check. A truck that’s clean and orderly indicates someone who cares about the impression he makes on others. On the other hand, if the truck is cluttered, dirty and leaking oil, it “tells” you something about the character of that contractor, and who would you rather have paint your house?

2. Look at the contractors business card:

Doesn’t have one?  The first thing people do after going into business is get their business cards printed up. Maybe this guy doesn’t want you to contact him after the work is done. Check for a local address and telephone number. Forget the 800 number answered in Taiwan. You want to be able to reach the boss when problems arise.  

3. Look at the contractor:

True story.   I have a friend back east who was having a termite problem. So he called one of these big franchises (you would  know the name) and signed up for a years worth of service. Well, when the service tech showed up, my friend almost keeled over. First, the man was extremely overweight. He was also limping badly from an earlier injury.

Now, this is someone who is going to be climbing around the attic, up and down narrow stairs and going into dark corners where termites lived. The guy was a walking lawsuit waiting to happen!   Is the contractor presentable? Maybe not spotless after a hard day at work, but does he look  put together? Would you want him hanging from a ladder or walking across your steep roof? Remember, even if the contractor carries insurance, you may still find yourself in the middle of a lawsuit if someone is seriously injured. In this litigious society, they sue everybody involved.  

4. The Missed Appointment: 

If the contractor sets a time to meet with you, but doesn’t show up or even call, well, how easy do you think it’ will be to track down this guy when there is a problem with your home improvement project. dump him.  

5. The High Pressure Approach:

This is a real tell. The contractor or rep really puts the pressure on to sign a contract. The fact is, really good contractors don’t have to pressure you. They don’t need your work. They’re booked months in advance. There is no deal you can’t walk away from. Never give in to the high-pressure sales pitch. Chances are, you’ll get hurt.  

6. No Contract: 

 “Oh, we don’t need a contract for a small job like this.”  Does that sound like something a responsible business person would say?  A contract protects both parties, so any contractor who says you don’t need a contract is a contractor you show to the door.  

7. An 84-Page Contract With 83 Pages of Fine Print:  

This is just as bad as the “no contract” guy. You don’t need a lengthy contract.  What work will be done? When will the contractor be paid?  When will the work be completed? What materials will be used? That about covers it. 

A contract should be short and sweet.  It should also be crystal clear. If you don’t know what you’re signing, don’t sign it until you do – until you really do.  

8. Is the contractor ready to discuss your project?

It sounds like an obvious question, but I’ve heard any number of horror stories. For example, a friend of mine wanted to put in a flagstone patio so he called a couple of rock workers who do this kind of thing. The first contractor drove up, met my friend, shook hands and got down to business. He took measurements, performed calculations and left an estimate with the buyer – a rather high estimate, or so my friend thought.  

The second contractors estimate was $1200 lower, so easy choice right?  Wrong! The second contractor showed up and asked my friend if he could borrow a tape measure!  Are you kidding me?  This landscaping contractor shows up to price a job and wants to borrow a tape measure?  But wait. He also asked to borrow a pen and a piece of paper to record the measurements. Then, it took him a week to get back with an estimate.

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