Working the Neighborhood & “We Can Start Next Week”

In this post, I’ll continue my series of 19 Secrets to Top
Home Remodeling
with two more warnings to look out for when shopping for a
contractor: Working the Neighborhood and “We Can Start Next Week.”  Even if you aren’t in the market for a remodel, be wary of these signs that you may be getting ripped off:

Working the Neighborhood

I always stress the importance
of watching out for “door to door” contractors. These people may not be
contractors at all. There are some things to look for that can help identify a
legitimate remodeler such as:

  • I.D. Badges with their pictures
  • Garment that has their company
    name on it
  • Professional business card
  • Names and contact information
    of other clients

Never allow them into your home until you have checked them out
thoroughly! I can’t stress this enough. It was recently reported that
two men claiming to be contractors entered into a home, and while one took the
homeowner on a pretend inspection, the other was going through purses and
picking up items that could be sold quickly.

Some contractors working in
your area may put out flyers or come to your door soliciting additional work in
the area. These contractors may be honest, reputable people. But you should not
invite them in. Instead, politely ask them for their business card and the
name, address, and telephone number of the people they are doing work for in
the neighborhood. Then make an appointment with that homeowner to take a look
at the quality of their work. Don’t underestimate the power of using your
neighborhood resources to find a good remodeler.

Saying “We Can Start Next Week”

Unscrupulous contractors know that any decent contractor is
booked up months ahead of time. So a standard game they play is to tell the
homeowner that they’ve had a cancellation and can start next week if they sign
right away. The poor homeowner falls for the sales trick and ends up with a
nightmare project. In most cases, the
contractor is looking to get the deposit and has no intention of showing
up next week. Or worse yet, they’ll show up and start tearing up your house
only to leave it a mess for months.

Remember, you want to hire a good contractor, not get
a new roommate! Nothing is more frustrating and irritating than a remodel job
that drags on and on.

Watch out for contractors that say:

  • “I just had a cancellation, we can start next week”
    – Good remodelers are usually busy, even in a slow economy.
  • “I can’t give you an estimate right now” –
    A good contractor will give you a estimate, subject to reasonable changes based on further discussions on scope, materials, time line, etc.
  • “I prefer to be paid in cash only.” – This is an
    indicator that the remodeler is probably not paying taxes or insurance, which
    is a huge liability to you!

I always recommend keeping a journal or pictures documenting
the remodeling process. That way, if anything were to go wrong, you could
better protect yourself from being scammed. It’s also a nice way to see the
full transformation once it’s done.
Everyone loves a good remodeling before and after picture!