Did I just say that? Yes I did. We all know the guy , full of hot air and stinks!
When looking for a contractor THIS guy is the one to avoid because after all the hot air is gone your left with a mess! So how can you tell a "fart" from a real contractor? It's not always easy. I mean there are some you can smell a mile away , but there are others that are really good at their deceptive craft. There are a few ways to help you avoid the "fart" and I will list them here.
1. Educate yourself
You don't have to become an expert, but if you are having a repair done , or
even building from bottom up, learn a little about what your having done.
This is a good idea for a couple of reasons. First the contractor will use some
lingo you may not understand. Most try to explain it as easy as possible but
there will still be words and expressions used that may be helpful to you. Also
if YOU personally use some of the words you learned while asking questions
or explaining what you would like, your contractor knows you have done
your homework and may be less likely to cheat you in some way.
Listen to what your contractor says, closely. If you don't understand a
certain aspect , have him repeat it for you. Maintain eye contact. Now that
does not mean stare at him until he is uncomfortable, but be sure that you do
have some eye contact. Finally ,watch his body language especially when
asking him questions.
3. That brings us to; ask questions
LOTS of questions. This is important. You need to know what the contractor
is going to do and how he wants to achieve the end product. This is VERY
important! You are going to get several bids and none of them will be the
same. Each contractor has different suppliers, some add travel time etc. but
they should all be pretty close to the same price. However most people grab
the contractor with the lowest bid. Your job is to figure out what you are getting
for that price. The only way to do that is to ask. For example, I give you a bid
of $3,000 for a job and contractor #2 gives you a bid of $3200 its a safe bet
that you are going to get close to the same quality for those prices. The
difference may be in the quality of materials , or added expenses such as
travel time. Say contractor #3 gives you the price of $1500. That should be a
red flag. He is at half what the other two are. I’ve seen many a person get
burned taking such a low bid. Ask, ask, ask! There is no dumb question.
Ask for a contract. If the contractor says they don't use them, or a
handshake is their word, RUN!!!!! I don't care if the contractor is your
brother! The contract will be your protection as well as his. NEVER EVER
hire a contractor without a contract! If he does not mention one then ask. If
need be YOU write one up. A shady contractor does not like contracts.
5. Jack of all trades and Handymen
No one person is good at every aspect of construction. There are many who
can multitask, for example our company is a masonry company, we also pour
concrete and lay tile and build with ICF ,but many of the handymen out there
have a list a mile long of things they do, some requiring a licence they do not
have!! If you hire a Jack of all trades , make sure he is skilled at what you need him for!
Ok. so this is a short list of how to avoid getting burned by a contractor. Feel free to comment and add to the list or tell a story of the time you "trusted a fart".