We’ve all heard the horror stories, and some of us have lived them in Wichita, KS area. Stories of home owners who gave money to “contractors” whom they never saw again or who did half a job and disappeared.
How to avoid being swindled by a fake or unreliable contractor
Write down your desired project details. Set a budget. Do some preliminary research to determine if your budget is realistic. Doing so will help you spot red flags when talking to contractors. Prices that are too high are scary, but prices that are too low should be scarier.
Research the contractor’s website
In today’s world, most companies recognize the need to have a professional site. You can tell much about a company by the presence they have in the marketplace.
Do they have photos on their websites? Reviews? License numbers?
For a more in depth look, see our post about “How to Evaluate Remodeling Contractors in the Wichita, KS Area.”
Listen carefully and evaluate physical presentation
What kind of vehicle does the contractor drive? How are they dressed? Do they have identification and did they offer it to you?
The contractor and possibly the crew will be in and out of your home. Does the contractor look like the kind of person you would be comfortable inviting into your home? Would you feel secure with them around your valuables? Your pets?
When you speak to the contractor do they appear to be on the same page? Are you able to communicate easily?
Ask for references and call them.
What to expect in a written estimates or quote
Always ask for a written estimate and expect the following details:
- Clearly stated tasks: The estimate should state clearly all areas of work to be done.
- Materials to be used: The estimate should also outline materials being used, if they are included or if they will be an additional cost.
- Project timeline: The estimate should state expected length of time for the project as well as any areas that could have potential surprises, e.g. tearing into a wall or floor could reveal unforeseen additional repairs.
- Exclusions: The estimate should also include any parts of the job that are being excluded by the contractor.
What to look for in a remodeling or home repair contract
Typically, most contractors will turn their estimates into a contract. The contract will identify such things as payment terms, completion satisfaction, and description of work to be done.
Contracts will define how repairs will be made and when. A contract will define how a dispute is to be handled—pay close attention to this.
Your contract should define payment schedules and time tables.
Be sure to inquire about warranties
Ask for a warranty. Have the contractor note on the estimate and final billing the length of warranty. And if you having insurance work done on your roof, be sure to check out of post about “Roof Warranties with Insured Certified Contractors.”
What are reasonable payment terms?
This is where the trouble starts. DO NOT let anyone convince you they must be paid upfront. They might tell you they need money for materials, or gas, or to pay their employees. Does your business get paid before they produce?
Construction is a business and good contractors run their businesses just like all other businesses.
It is reasonable for a contractor to ask for special order items to be paid for in advance. Many times, you can pay their vendor directly, ensuring that your money is being used to buy the materials stated.
It is reasonable for a contractor to ask for a down payment on some jobs–especially large jobs that will take some time to complete. You might be asked, or you might offer, to pay draws on the job as it progresses. This allows the contractor to pay the crew and move the job forward.
Never give a contractor full payment for a job in advance. A good contractor will not ask for it.
Final considerations when hiring a remodeling or general contractor
Be clear and concise in your expectations. If you don’t like the way something is looking, discuss it with your contractor immediately.
Be aware that changes cost money. Make colors decisions, material decisions, and appliance decisions in advance and stick to them. Making changes throughout the job will generally lead to additional charges, slowdowns in the job, and most often frustration for both you and your contractor.
Follow your instincts. Homeowners have great instinct. If you feel something is off, it probably is.
Find the best fit for you, and then sit back and watch your project evolve!
Looking to remodel or repair your home in the Wichita, KS area?
At S&A Construction, we handle a variety of construction, from small remodeling jobs to large additions and home repairs and carry a BBB A+ rating. Give us a call at (316) 558-8422 day or night or request a free quote.