Mistakes to Avoid - Four Common Mistakes When Choosing Contractors

A home improvement professional runs through his mistakes to avoid when hiring a contractor

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The following is inspired by Bob Orow when asked what a homeowner should be wary of when selecting a contractor. Bob Orow is a QualitySmith partner contractor who specializes in windows and siding.

  1. Don't Fall for a Huge Price Drop
  2. Under no circumstances should you ever be bullied into buying at the last minute with a huge price drop.

    You the homeowner should always set the pace of the estimate by saying, "I want your best information and your best price now, without any last minute price drop." Tell the contractor that you are going to shop and compare, so give me your best price now. If they don't agree ask them to leave!

  3. Biased Product Recommendations
  4. Do not allow the contractor to sway you into what they want to put on your home. Many times siding and window contractors only want to install what they are comfortable with. This means the contractor will tell you anything so they can have an easier time installing the job.

    Remember, this is your home, you pick the product that you like and if the contractor tries to talk you out of it find a different contractor.

  5. The Contractor's Personality is Important
  6. We all know that you should get references from a contractor before hiring them. But have you thought about the personality of the contractor?

    When checking out the contractor's work, also check out their personality. You want to select a contractor who is congenial, good natured and one who you can talk with if any problem should arise. When you are looking to hire a contractor ask any and all supplied references about the contractor's personality. Before the final selection, ask yourself if the contractor treats you respectfully and if they are willing to talk through any concerns you have.

  7. Misleading Product Comparisons
  8. A contractor should be able to show you the comparison between older products and new advanced products. When I get a job, it is my duty to make the homeowner aware of all options so they can choose what material is right for their location and budget.

    For example, I would show my customer new advanced technology saying, "You can use the new 'rain drop' air and water control wrap which controls water and keeps air out. Then you can install Crane Board siding with 1 1/16 inch bonded tracking foam which will give you superior performance. But keep in mind that this performance will cost 20% more than other combinations."

    I could also show older products with regular Tyvek wrap and 1/4 or 1/2 or 3/4 inch foam that in my opinion cannot even compare to the newer products in performance. The final decision rests with the homeowner; the material type is not my decision.

    Same thing goes for windows. I hate how people are being misled on the differences between fiberglass, vinyl and wood windows. All three are good and there is good to "crap" levels of quality in all three.

Remember this When Selecting a Contractor

Finding a talented contractor with a great personality will significantly increase your job's chance of success! You don't want a slick talker, but a genuine sociable and helpful contractor. Make sure you understand all prices and what they include. Don't forget to look the contractor in the eye and say, "I want the bottom line with no surprises." If they can't deliver, move on. The exception to this is unforeseen problems, which you won't know until you run across them.

Disclaimer: This article offers general guidelines and is not intended as professional advice.

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