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Contractor fed flags: Were there any?

I’ve been writing about remodeling for 17 years, and so you can imagine the contractor horror stories I’ve heard.

But I’m interested in what happened before the contractor was hired. Were there no warnings? No indications? No red flags?

I’m convinced that there were, and that those signs were ignored, glossed over, excused.

Maybe you didn’t get a call back for a few days. Or the contractor’s truck was dirty mess. Or the contractor turned out to be unlicensed.

On that last point, there’s absolutely no reason for you not to know if a contractor is licensed. Just click on the California State Contractors License Board website and do your search.

If you don’t check on this before you hire your contractor, and you find out later he or she isn’t licensed, I won’t let you complain to me.

So if you’ve suffered from hiring what turned out to be a bad or incompetent contractor, think back, back, back to the beginning . . . . Without naming names, tell me, what did you hear, see, or observe that should have clued you in?

What were the red flags?

3 Comments on Contractor fed flags: Were there any?

  1. I think I’d have to say it was the fact that they (the contractors) were unable to give us a detailed estimate even after four weeks of asking. We unfortunately steamed ahead because we had sold our old house and were feeling under pressure to begin the new one.
    Big mistake.

  2. Kathy Price-Robinson // May 11, 2007 at 1:25 am // Reply

    Ellen, I’m curious, what did the lack of a detailed estimate indicate about this company?
    What happened later on that showed the estimate issue was just the tip of the iceberg?
    Thanks!

  3. This concerns our pool contractor, circa 1979:
    a) we found he was not registered. “No problem”, he said with Prop 13 the
    state stopped sending renewal forms; he got registered.
    b) I insisted on a completion bond: he said, if you insist, we are not
    doing the job; the lesson: pool companies have no assets and do not offer
    completion bonds;
    c) when I complained to the state about a bond, the person decided I was
    too upset and told me: well you know they get a bond for ~$10K for ALL
    their contracts (together); so a bond is useless;
    d) the contractor sent out his subcontractors, who had barely read the
    plans; I caught and resolved several key problems which would have
    resulted in a mess; one of the big problems was something the city
    inspector should have caught and did not (I did, just in time and after he
    gave the go ahead for the gunite);
    e) I had some control by having a large payment due at the end, for the
    pool cover; I used the leverage;
    f) The city inspector was useless in either identifying or helping with
    problems.
    Red flags? There are always red flags. So which ones are a deal breaker?

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