Remodeling or renovating any part of the house is not only a tedious project but can also be expensive. This is why homeowners should be aware that although only a small percentage of contractors are bad apples—i.e. scammer contractors, it is still important for them to know the red flags.
Fortunately, these scammers and con artists are pretty easy to spot – as long as your own desire to save money doesn’t blind you to the telltale signs. If you want the job to be done without the constant worry of potential betrayal, make sure to avoid these giveaway signs:
Scram Usually Means Scam
Scam rhymes with scram, and that’s what bad contractors do. They don’t stick around to finish the job because they are unwilling to make the investment of time and money required to run a legitimate contracting business.
One of the first easy to spot a sign that a bathroom contractor company can be a scam is the equipment they use. If they have a poor personal appearance, shoddy tools, filthy or broken equipment, and vehicles in poor repair, it is best to press pass and contact other companies in your area.
Although not every good construction company will have uniforms, new trucks, or the latest cell phones and laptops, keep in mind that even in this business, first impressions can last. Every personnel you meet should set his best foot forward. How a contractor presents himself and takes care of his truck, tools, and equipment is a good indication of how well he’ll take care of you and your job.
Very Low and Limited Offers
Contractors who say they will give a “special low price or offer” just for you in secret should be another reason why you should skip that company. Moreover, it adds to the shady part if they say it’s only offered for a limited time, pressuring you to decide sooner without giving you enough time to think about it.
A low-bidding contractor can either be a clueless or one who never intends to finish the work in the first place. Another scam is to bid low and then start charging you extra for materials you thought were included in the price once the job begins.
Keep in mind that professional bathroom remodeling companies give their clients a “cooling off period” so that they can think about it, or even cancel a home improvement contract – without obligation – after signing it.
Bathroom contractors are also tasked to pick out and buy the materials needed for the remodeling project. If a contractor claims he’s already got materials he wants to pass along to you at a discount, watch out, definitely, there’s something fishy.
At the same time, if they spot “on sale” items, or priced below the minimum, they can be second-rate materials which can be rejects and substandard. Small contractors rarely buy in volumes that yield these big discounts, and contractors rarely carry large inventories of material. If they do, they severely misjudged quantities on a previous job, which doesn’t speak well for their estimating skills.
“I’ll do the job cheaper if you pay me in cash” is another big red flag. A contractor who works on a cash-only basis is probably not paying taxes, and almost certainly not paying for insurance. The same goes for a contractor who wants to get paid each day. Drop him like a hot potato.
No Physical Office
One of the characteristics of a reliable bathroom contractor is not only having an office but a long list of achievements and references on it. If your contractor has nothing more than a cell phone and a P.O. Box, check the Better Business Bureau and your state licensing bureau to see if there are any complaints lodged against them.
Tips to Hire a Legitimate and Quality Bathroom Contractor
- Look at Their Previous Projects
One of the best ways to assess a bathroom remodeling company’s experience and quality of work is to take a look at some of the projects they’ve completed in the past. Experienced home remodelers should have an extensive portfolio showcasing their past work, leaving you with confidence in their ability to deliver a similar quality of work to your home.
Ask for some photos of their past projects. If you liked what you see, request references and call contractors’ former customers to check up on them. Ask how the contractors did at executing the projects. Were they on time and on budget? Were the customers pleased with the outcome? Was there anything that could have been done differently?
- Ask for Recommendations
Before saying yes to a bathroom remodeling company, ask for recommendations. There are a lot of companies out there. One way to narrow down your search? Ask for referrals. After all, word of mouth-hands down is the best way to find a qualified professional to tackle the job. You can ask your friends and family, as well as your relatives and neighbors which company they’ve had good experiences with. You can also look at online forums discussing the matter and look for opinions that are unbiased and honest.
- Look at the Company’s Credentials
After narrowing down your options, it’s time to look at each company one by one and study their credentials. Find out whether he or she holds all the required licenses from state and local municipalities, along with designations from any professional associations such as the National Kitchen & Bath Association, the National Association of the Remodeling Industry and the National Association of Homebuilders. It is ideal that the contractors you’re looking for gave invested in coursework and passed rigorous tests to earn particular certifications. Be aware, however, that not all certifications are created equal. Do some homework and find out the requirements they’ve passed to get these validations.
- Ask Questions
Set up meetings with the few contenders left on your list. Try to keep it to three contractors, because things can get confusing beyond that. How a contractor answers questions is extremely important, but keep in mind that communication should go both ways.
Bathroom remodeling can be technical sometimes, and great contractors move and proceed with the project with their clients understanding reasons why they need to do it and such. They should also be open to suggestions, ideas and be accommodating to your questions and thoughts about the remodeling. Keep in mind that this should be a partnership—you should not feel like the boss of them and the other way around.