How to avoid being scammed by a general contractor

As an executive in the construction industry, I have witnessed some shady deals and seen contractors try to rip off clients. I find this offensive on so many different levels. There is no reason to be dishonest, it always comes back to bite you where the meat is tender, hurts others, ruins one’s reputation, and soon ruins one’s entire business.

I have always found that dealing honestly with clients has expanded our business and created lasting friendships.

In addition, I firmly believe in the harvest of what is sown, and that what goes around comes around.

I don’t know about you, but I’d rather create a happy and enjoyable future than one where I have no friends, my reputation (if I have any left) is in tatters, and I’m likely to face some trouble. magistrate.

Our general contractor (GC) ran into another rogue contractor this morning and came back to the office in a pretty serious state, so he decided he needed to do a little more, use my knowledge to warn unsuspecting homeowners. Someone warned me that he could make more enemies than friends in my business. I don’t believe it for a second because I know a lot more honest people than dishonest, and if the latter decide to dislike me, I’d tend to think I’ve successfully warned a few homeowners and saved someone a headache and money.

There are several ways a dishonest contractor can try to scam you.

1- Give the homeowner a very low ball estimate.

A perfect example of this is the story from this morning that I referred to earlier. We had submitted an estimate to build a small kitchen in an unfinished basement. The owner told our GC that she was absolutely shocked that our estimate was three times higher than another contractor’s.

Let me just say that there is absolutely no way to do this job for a third of the price we gave you. Included in our estimate for a small kitchen was demolition of an existing room, framing the walls, electrical roughing and finishing, plumbing, HVAC including all fixtures, insulation on exterior walls, drywall, painting, tile floor, tile backsplash, kitchen cabinets and an island, granite counter tops, all appliances, labor and material all mentioned. You get the idea.

But this “low balling” is not a new tactic. Its purpose is to get the job and then add costs while the job is in progress, claiming unforeseen expenses, change orders or situations.

Once an owner is in the middle of a project, it is very difficult to fire an existing contractor and take the time to find a new one.

Solution: When you see a big price discrepancy between two estimates, get a couple more offers. This will give you a very good idea of ​​what the job should cost. There is absolutely no question that every project must take into account unforeseen circumstances i.e. mold found on walls during demolition, house is old and electrical wiring is not up to code, previous work is shoddy and you don’t know until you look again. . Unfortunately, the list is long. But most of the time, an estimate can give you a pretty good idea of ​​what the cost will be.

2- Do not pay subcontractors and keep the money.

Although this scenario may not be as common as the first described, it does occur. The general contractor hires subcontractors and keeps all the money. This leaves the owner of the house with the bag and the bonds are filed against the house. It can result in costly and lengthy legal battles and skyrocketing stress levels.

Solution: Ask your contractor for some references from previous clients. Find out if there are any complaints against you with your state licensing department.

3- Outrageous remodeling budgets.

This unethical practice is used by contractors looking for clients who have no idea of ​​construction costs. This method doesn’t work for most people, but it’s done enough to be lucrative for some businesses, similar to a car mechanic ripping off someone who knows nothing about car repair.

Solution: Get more than one quote.

4- “The discount of friends and relatives”.

The job is being offered to be done after hours and on weekends as a favor and at a reduced rate by someone who is unlicensed and uninsured. Under this scenario, rest assured that permits will not be withdrawn and inspections will not take place. In addition to the fact that this practice is totally illegal, it directly affects the safety issue, the electricity is of poor quality and is a fire hazard, the plumbing is poor and causes pipes to burst and flood, to name just a few. couple of possible branches. This can also negatively affect the resale of your home and reduce the value of the property.

Solution: Hire a licensed and insured contractor with a good reputation. It takes very little time to search for your contractor on the Internet and contact your state’s licensing department to find out if the business is properly registered and if any complaints have been filed.

5- Cause damage to create more work.

The unethical contractor damages something in the house and claims it needs to be repaired at additional cost.

Solution: Any damage caused by a contractor or subcontractor is not your financial responsibility. A contractor is legally expected to fix and pay for any damage caused during the work.

Additional signs that a contractor is dishonest:

1- He refused to sign a contract
2- Accept only cash as a form of payment
3- Refuses to give references, or refuses to provide a copy of your license and insurance.
4- It tells you that you will have to get the permits yourself.

Most contractors are law-abiding, decent, and do a good job. The few that fall into the category of dishonesty can be avoided by following the tips above.

I wish you an easy and happy experience during remodeling.

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