Hiring a contractor to do work on your home is not always as easy as it sounds. Many people call themselves contractors, but really are not. The first step to avoiding problems is to make sure you hire someone with who is actually licensed as a contractor. If you subsequently have problems, you can contact the licensing board to raise a dispute.
Most contractors are ethical, honest people and businesses. There are, however, others who are not. These individuals assume you do not really know what is involved in the construction process. This provides them with an opening to make substantially more profit. While you might think this means they will overbid the project, it does not. Most contractors believe you will pick the lowest price, so they rarely run up their estimate. There are, however, two other ways to boost profit.
The first thing unethical contractors will do is use low quality supplies. As with anything you buy, there is a high quality and lower quality version. While you may want the high quality version, you may have a hard time determining if you received it. The difference between high and low quality is often how long something lasts, not how it appears. The way to beat this problem is to specify the exact brand, size and part number [if possible] in your contract. Doing so accomplishes two things. First, it puts the contractor on notice that you know how the process works. Second, you can always resort to legal action if you later find the correct materials were not used. Since you have everything in writing, the contractor has little defense.
A second unethical tactic is the bait and switch. In this process, the contractor gives you a bid price that can’t possibly cover the project. You think you are getting a deal, but the contractor starts coming to you after the project has started requesting more money. The contractor refuses to continue work if you do not pony up. In this situation, the best defense is again to have everything in writing in the project contract. Make sure to include an attorney’s fee clause in it. If the contractor tries this tactic, you should contact an attorney. The attorney will set the contractor straight. If the contract refuses to finish the job, you will probably be told by the attorney to hire a new contractor while he sues the unethical one. Since an attorney’s fee clause is included in the agreement, you should end up paying no legal fees. This is not the best situation, but it beats getting scammed.
In general, the best way to find a contractor is to ask for referrals from trusted friends. Next, get everything in writing. With these two steps, you should avoid any major problems.