“As a contractor with 16 years of experience and speaking on behalf of professional contractors. I want people to be aware of the warning signs that they may be dealing with the wrong contractor.”
Not every contractor is out to get you. The majority are honest, reputable business owners who strive to do quality work, using good materials at a reasonable cost. In fact, many of these contractors are members of associations such as the NAHB (National Association of Home Builders) or the BBB (Better Business Bureau).
For the past three years, I have conducted investigations in contractor/homeowner relations. I have heard numerous stories of why homeowners feel taken by home improvement service providers. Even though we have our own formulas on choosing a contractor the nightmare stories continue to stockpile. On the other hand, I have heard from several contractors of how they feel undercut by the competition and taken advantage of by the homeowner. Yet still, the bickering goes on.
While Mr. And Mrs. Jones wondered when there newly hired contractor would return, they would be able to use their kitchen for nothing other than a sloppy storage room. The Jones’s thought that the contractor they hired to completely remodel their kitchen was superior because he was highly recommended by a friend. They didn’t know that his license had expired along with his insurance and that he had a criminal history. They assumed that he was reputable and failed to check his credentials. So as the Jones’s wait, the contractor holds their money and left them with a completely destroyed kitchen.
How many times have we made a mistake like this and looked for someone else to blame?
After three years of research, it has been proven to me that the famous terms “contractor” and “nightmare” don’t always go hand in hand. Just as we use protection to keep our homes safe, we can use certain tools and resources for successfully screening contractors as we welcome them into our home. Typically, we teach our children to not open the door for strangers, as the same rule should take affect in interviewing a contractor.
During my research, I myself was licensed and bonded as a general contractor. I was also involved with an online contractor referral service. This online service was located in Colorado and promised homeowners in Washington State they would deliver; prescreened, pre-qualified and licensed service trades people at their request. As a contractor I was sent up to 20 job leads a day via email, for jobs I had no experience in. I accepted several of these leads and sold services, by contract, to the majority of these homeowners. At first I was quite successful until my company started to grow. Before I knew it I had an office in Mill Creek, an office staff and 12-15 employees. I was considering the development and expansion of new divisions within my company however, my mistakes were soon to be revealed. I received a phone call from a client complaining of the help that I had placed on the job and our progress. My client proceeded to tell me that my employees were taking 2 hour lunches and taking several 5-10 minute breaks a day. Later another client phoned in with the same concern. Both of these projects were finished late, as I started to focus on weeding out the spoiled help. During this process I had lost control of the remaining projects. As I was firing and disciplining the remaining staff, I was receiving at minimum of three calls a day from angry customers. I felt there was no way out. I finished the last of the projects myself and with the help of my last employee.
While my license had already expired and I was no longer insured however, I was still receiving 20 job leads a day from this same contractor referral. This contractor referral service that promised to screen contractors and deliver them to an already “in fear” public, would refer my company and others I knew who were of the same caliber, licensed or not, insured or not.