Watch Out for Constant Delays and Contractor Up Selling

Since the economy has
gone south a few years
back, homeowners have to worry more about shady
contractors than ever before.  Of course,
the majority of contractors are generally honest professionals, but there are a
large number of unscrupulous contractors who will fix items that don’t need
fixing, or grossly overcharge you for services or parts.  Worse, there are plenty of con artists posing
as contractors or remodelers who will simply take your money and run.  As a remodeler, I know what to look for when avoiding these fraudulent contractors, and in this post I will share with you two
more “secrets” on how contractors cut costs and increase profits so you can
better protect yourself and your home.

Suppliers for Delays

Unexpected delays are an
inevitable part of a home remodeling project, but watch out for delays that
seem too frequent or unavoidable. To hang on to your money a little longer,
sometimes contractors who get over-extended and can’t live up to their
commitments force homeowners to wait weeks for crews to come back and finish
the job.  During this time, you’ll see
contractors start dragging out the old excuses and one of their favorites is to
blame it on their suppliers or subcontractors. 
Examples of this include:

  • A
    kitchen remodeling job gets hung up because the cabinets are on back order.
  • An
    addition project gets held up because they’re waiting for the windows to come
  • The
    flooring gets delayed because the suppliers messed up the order.

If the delay seems too
long, or the blame is getting passed too frequently, start paying more
attention.  If possible, verify the
problem with the third party yourself, and make sure it’s a legitimate delay
rather than one the contractor exaggerated or made up completely.

the Dream or “Up Selling”

Here’s a game that has
burned many homeowners over the years:  A
contractor will start a project, get a few weeks into it, and begin presenting
some innovative ideas to the homeowner.  By
then they’ve gotten to know the homeowner and have a pretty good feel for what
they would “bite” on.  So they throw out
an idea and the homeowner may say “sure give me a price on that and we’ll roll
it into the project”.

Why would a contractor do
this? There are two reasons, schedule and money.

  • Schedule:  More often
    than not, this idea is going to involve products or supplies that need to be
    ordered.  If the homeowner buys into the
    idea, the contractor just bought themselves a multi-week excuse to disappear.
  • Money:  Typically the homeowner took bids from
    multiple contractors for the initial project so the contractor had to be fair and
    careful with his pricing.  But on this
    new change to the project, the contractors may try to charge a premium because
    they know the homeowner is not going to put it out to bid.  Rather than a 20% profit mark-up, it’s not
    uncommon to see a 100% mark-up.

If your contractor
starts throwing out creative ideas a few weeks into the project – watch out! These
proposals are almost always self-serving.  A good home remodeler will take the time to
plan and research the project up front and will present these ideas to you
before the remodeling begins. All the more reason to take your time and do your
homework before choosing a remodeler!