If you own a home, hiring a contractor is one of life’s necessary evils and is pretty much unavoidable. My heart has a permanent ache for anyone that has to make that dreaded call for a home project or repair.
After almost 20 years in the building and remodeling business, there is one thing I have learned, Keep your eyes open! No matter who comes through your door, with whatever recommendations, reputation or credentials, you have to be, you must be, sly like a fox.
When that inevitable time in your homeowner life, finally does arrive, avoid these 7 types of contractors at all costs!
1. Ghostly Gus
He doesn’t show up for the estimate. He doesn’t return your calls, emails or texts.
As Mr Wonderful would say “You are dead to me”
Move on! Your project and your life during the project will be a living hell. Trust me, it will only get worse and it will feel 100x’s worse, when you are living in the middle of a renovation and he has $25k of your money and he’s ghosting you. Guaranteed Xanax and red wine for the next 6 months!
How it starts is how it ends- EVERY TIME!
2. Cant find you anywhere Carl
I.e. You need to hire a private eye to find evidence he exists
Its 2021 folks and if your contractor and his business cant be found somewhere on the inter web, with some historical record of his existence, then move on. There could be a multitude of good reasons why he has stayed off the grid, but, there are 5x as many red flags for why he can’t be found. I’ve had the same cell phone number for 18 years and my business record as Dishington Construction goes back the same.
3. Poor Proposal Paul
He hands you a price on the back of an envelope or in a text or the worst one; A REAL proposal with a half a dozen errors! I recently received a professional proposal from a mason that was full of typos, had the quantities wrong and didn’t describe the project with any form of clarity whatsoever (and this was a six figure job mind you!) Huge red flag. If your proposal is sloppy and lazy, then it’s not a stretch to assume your work will be the same.
4. Fast Talking Freddy
This guy is my worst enemy. He’s so completely insecure and inadequate at his job, that he has to talk a 100 miles a minute to overcompensate. Communication is key to a successful project and the last thing you need is a used car salesman who only talks and doesn’t know how or even cares to listen. (No offense to used car salesmen of course)
5. Heavy Harry & Smokin Joe
I know this one is not PC, but oh well. Building and remodeling is a physical job and if your contractor is winded after 1 flight of stairs, because he’s pushing 4 bills or smokes 2 packs of Marlboro reds, then maybe you want to keep looking. What it tells me, is that your best days are probably behind you and you are having a difficult time taking care of yourself. I’m also guessing you will have a difficult time performing well on my job. Sucks to say, but it’s usually true.
6. Cheap Charlie
His proposal for the work is too good to be true and you are probably right. He has either made a mistake, is inexperienced or he will get you with big change orders once he starts to make up for it. If your gut is telling you something is fishy, trust your gut.
7. Big Deposit Dennis
The law in Massachusetts allows you to request up to ⅓ of the total contract up front, but that is crazy land. There are only a handful of projects where this kind of upfront money is justified and that is when the majority of the project is materials, such as a roofing, siding or replacement windows. However, if you are doing a larger project, beware of a contractor that wants a high percentage of the contract up front. Could be signs of trouble to come.
Nathan Dishington is the owner of the design build firm, Jensen Hus in Natick Massachusetts.