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6 signs that a contractor is "shady"

Having construction work done on your home is a big financial undertaking. It is imperative to make sure that you have a reputable contractor. There is a chance that your job won't be completed properly or to your specifications if you don't have a contractor who handles things properly.

"Shady" or untrustworthy contractors can cost homeowners a lot of money. By protecting yourself from the start, you are minimizing the risk that you will have to deal with subpar project completion. Here are some signs of a bad contractor that you need to be aware of:

  • Contractor only wants to do business over the phone: To properly bid on a construction project, a contractor needs to meet with you in person to go over the specifications of the job. The exception is if the person doesn't live in your area. In this case, a meeting over a video chat and having to send documents and plans back and forth is reasonable.
  • Contractor isn't willing to share references: All reputable contractors have amassed a list of people who are so satisfied with their work that they are willing to give a good word for them. If you ask for references and are given some, contact a few. Ask pointed and open-ended questions. This can help you get a feel for how the contractor works.
  • Contractor doesn't have valid license or insurance: To legally do construction contracting jobs, the person needs to have the proper license and insurance. Not only is this required by law, it helps protect you in the event of an issue, such as a work-related injury of one of the workers.
  • Contractor tries to bypass permits: If the contractor is willing to take the chance on not getting the proper permits, what else will they try to skirt? Permits are important because they provide a record of the work and some measure of oversight with inspections during the project.
  • Contractor doesn't use high-quality materials: Substandard materials can ruin even the highest quality of work. If you notice that a contractor is using products and materials that don't look like they are suitable for the project, you might be dealing with a shady contractor.
  • Contractor won't sign a contract: A contract protects you and the contractor from problems, should they arise. If the contractor won't sign a contract, walking away is usually best.

There are times when a shady contractor will appear legitimate during the bidding process. If you fall victim to one, you do have legal options that you can explore.

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