Avoiding Bad Home Construction Contractors

Simple Tips on How to Interview and Hire Home Construction Contractors

By Mark J. Donovan

I will preface this article by saying that not all home construction contractors are bad. Quite frankly, by and large most are quite good and take great pride in their craftsmanship. However, there are many homeowners who have been, and are currently being, ripped off by bad home construction contractors. The trick in avoiding bad construction contractors is observing the tell tale signs of their characteristics.

Years ago when I was acting as my own general contractor on a home construction project I had the experience of hiring a framing contractor that I came to regret. From that experience I learned a few tips on how to avoid bad construction contractors and I share them with you below.

Check Home Construction Contractor References

As part of the interviewing and hiring process, it is absolutely necessary to check references before making an offer to a home construction contractor. By doing this simple task many homeowners can easily avoid hiring the wrong construction contractor.

The first thing I like to look at when presented with a reference list by a home construction contractor is the length and diversity of the list. The longer the list the better, as this gives you more opportunities to get objective opinions. A long reference list is also a clear sign that the home construction contractor takes pride in his craft. Finally a long list typically means that there is both recent and older home construction projects included, and this is a very important point.

When checking references I always like to check several references on the home construction contractors list, and typically I will check both recently completed projects and projects that were completed a few years ago.

Home Addition Bid Sheets

This is a very important point. Many bad construction contractors poor craftsmanship doesn’t show up until months or years after they have left the job site. By checking references on older construction projects you can find out if the contractor’s craftsmanship has stood the test of time. Make sure when you speak with the reference to ask them about the need for replacing or repairing items such as windows and exterior doors. Also ask them if there have been any roof leaks and if the drywall has had many nail pops. Multiple issues of this nature reported to you by the reference should be clear warning signs that this may be a home construction contractor to avoid.

Speak to Contractor Peers and other Trades who have worked with your Contractor Candidate

Another way to weed out bad home construction contractors is to talk with their peers. For example, if I had checked with my electrical and plumbing subcontractors about the framing contractor I hired, I could have avoided a bad experience. Both my electrical and plumbing subcontractors new of my framing contractor and walked off the job just one day into their work, because they could not stand working with the framing contractor on site.

Fortunately I was able to get them back a few days later when the framing contractor finished up his portion of the project.

building a gable dormer addition

Contractors Attention to Detail in the Contractor Bid

If you receive a contractor bid that is lacking specifics about the home construction project this should be a clear warning sign. If after requesting additional details in the construction bid and not receiving them, and/or if the contractor is dismissive or vague, move on in your home construction contractor hiring search.

This is certainly a tell tale sign of a bad construction contractor and someone you should avoid.

Make a couple of Test Calls to Construction Contractor Candidates

A sure way to avoid bad home construction contractors is to see how quickly they respond to your calls or messages. While you are in the contractor interviewing process, make a call or two to the potential construction contractor, preferably leaving a message, regarding a specific question you may have about their construction bid. If they do not respond back to you, or take days to do so, this is a clear warning sign. If the contractor is unwilling to be responsive to you before he has your money, think of what he will be like after he has it.

How Knowledgeable is the Home Construction Contractor

Finally, discern how knowledgeable a potential home construction contractor is about his profession. First, make sure he is properly licensed in your state. Second, see if he is part of any professional home builder organizations. And lastly, see how knowledgeable he is in the latest in new home construction technology and methods. For example, is he using state of the art construction techniques and home building products? By knowing this type of information, you will get a sense if this guy is a leader in the home construction field or not.

So with these few basic tips you’ve now increased your chances immensely in avoiding a bad home construction contractor and averting a home construction nightmare.

For more help on building a home addition, see HomeAdditionPlus.com’s Home Addition Bid Sheets. Our Home Addition Bid Sheets provide you with the knowledge and information on how to plan a home building project, and what to look for when hiring contractors. They also include detailed cost breakdown tables and spreadsheets for estimating your own new home construction building costs.

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