There’s little wonder as to why people’s experiences with contractors vary wildly. As is the case with other independent professionals, some contractors are perfectly obliging, while others cause nothing but headaches. So, if you’re currently in need of a dependable contractor, you’d do well to cross all your t’s and dot all your i’s before deciding who to give your business to. By understanding some of the most common issues people encounter when working with contractors, you can start taking effective measures to avoid contractors who are likely to prove problematic.
Lack of Licensing
Since most states require general contractors to be licensed by their respective boards of contractors, it’s in your best interest to confirm that a contractor is licensed in your state before proceeding to hire them. Additionally, keep in mind that being licensed in one state doesn’t mean that a contractor is licensed in others, as the requirements for licensing vary from state to state.
Unlike contractors who practice without a license, licensed contractors are expected to maintain a certain degree of skill and professionalism, lest they risk losing their licensed status. As a result, licensed contractors have greater incentive to provide clients with accurate quotes, see jobs through to the end and guarantee their work. However, since unlicensed contractors tend to charge lower rates, many people hire them without understanding the risks and ultimately wind up regretting their decision.
Another reason to stick with licensed contractors is their ability to easily pull certain permits from cities and townships. Fortunately, for a contractor who’s properly licensed, permits can be obtained in a timely and hassle-free fashion, particularly in places that utilize convenient municipal software. As such, you should never commit to doing business with a contractor before first asking for proof of licensing.
Lack of Insurance
If a contractor doesn’t have insurance, you’re liable to be looking at some massive additional costs down the line. That being the case, make sure that any contractor with whom you do business has general liability, automobile and workers compensation insurance. In the absence of proper coverage, you may find yourself financially responsible for any damage a contractor causes to your property in the course of their work and/or any medical costs that stem from injuries they incur while in your employ. So, before you even consider working with a contractor, take care to request proof of insurance.
Jobs Left Unfinished
Some contractors have zero qualms about walking away from jobs before they’re fully finished. When it comes to unlicensed contractors, such behavior should hardly come as a surprise. After all, what real incentive do they have to see jobs they find too difficult or cumbersome through to completion? However, it should also be understood that unlicensed contractors aren’t the only ones who leave jobs unfinished, and it’s hardly unusual for licensed contractors to walk away from jobs for a variety of reasons.
Depleted funds are among the most common reasons for which contractors walk away from jobs. If a client is no longer able to afford the cost of labor or materials, it’s understandable that contractors would abandon unfinished jobs in favor of jobs that actually pay. This is one of the many reasons why proper budgeting is important. If you jump into large-scale renovations with only the vaguest of ideas of how much they’re going to cost, you’ll have only yourself to blame if the budget runs out before the work has been completed.
In the interest of avoiding such an outcome, make sure to request detailed estimates from numerous contractors before selecting the right contractor for the job and giving them the green light to start work. Additionally, keep in mind that an estimate is just that – an estimate – and the final cost is likely to be at least a little more than the estimated one.
While working with a skilled, obliging contractor can be a pleasant, hassle-free experience, giving your business to the wrong contractor can be a costly nightmare. So, in the interest of keeping your stress levels and personal finances in check, take care to do your homework before proceeding to work with a contractor for the first time. Putting genuine thought into which contractors you’re willing to hire can effectively save you the trouble of dealing with the issues outlined above.