The Difference Between a Good Contractor and a Bad Contractor in Fairfax County

A home remodel is a big job. You trust your contractor to keep your interests top-of-mind and to do excellent work because a lot is riding on the result.

Unfortunately, though you count on your contractor to possess these qualities, you can’t always get what you want. However, if you heed the warning signs, you might just get what you need.

Warning Sign #1: It Seems Too Good To Be True

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Bad contractors are good at telling you what you want to hear. They’ll promise you the moon and the stars for a song, and they might even backtrack on everything a more reputable contractor said could not be done.

You might be thinking, “Yeah! Finally, somebody sees it my way!” but in reality, the only thing they are trying to accomplish is getting that contract signed and your deposit in the bank. They’re not thinking about whether something is doable or not, or whether it can be done with your budget.

We see this quite a lot. The bad contractor often comes out looking like the hero while the right contractor draws ire because we ask tough questions.

The truth is that sometimes, a good contractor won’t be able to answer your question right away. We might need to speak to an engineer or an architect to be sure we are telling you the right thing. A bad contractor, on the other hand, will be quick to say “yes” without considering all the variables.

Warning Sign #2: The Quote Is Very Different From Other Contractors

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Everybody loves a bargain. This is the very reason why so many people end up choosing a bad contractor over a good one. But heed this: if your contractor doesn’t price out the job accurately, you will pay the difference.

While an inexperienced contractor might be technically very good at what they do, if they don’t have enough experience quoting jobs or permitting, you could end up frustrated, disappointed, and on the hook for a lot more than you bargained for.

A lot goes into a renovation job. There are permits, drawings, engineering, zoning, getting approvals from the county, or satisfying the local resident’s association – these are all critical tasks that a contractor is responsible for. If anything falls through the cracks, your budget, your timeline, and your dreams are at risk.

Warning Sign #3: They Don’t Have a Professional Business Presence

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Any company you decide to do business with should have a professional presence. If the contractor you are speaking to has neither an office nor a business phone, or if they never pick up your calls when you reach out to them on their mobile, it’s a clear sign that something isn’t quite right.

A good contractor encourages communication. They will have a professional business presence with a bona fide listing that you can check on. When you call their business number, somebody will answer, and your concerns will always be addressed promptly.

Warning Sign #4: They Don’t Know Everything That Needs to Be Done to Complete Your Job

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Say you’re putting in a new gourmet kitchen with all the bells and whistles, including a commercial-grade range and hood fan. You might ask your contractor, “do I need to upgrade my electrical service?”

In this situation, we would typically ask an electrician for their professional opinion before we give you an answer.

An inexperienced or bad contractor, on the other hand, would probably tell you that you’re good to go without the support of a professional opinion. Experienced contractors in our area know that pipes and electrical often need to be upgraded, especially in an older home. A lot of times, we’re dealing with old pipes and possibly knob and tube wiring, which doesn’t meet code and can be dangerous. In any case, we would never make a blanket statement like that without having some authority on the subject.

Other warning signs can include:

  • They ask for too much money before the work begins
  • There are no local references for you to check
  • They don’t give you a written list of materials and selections
  • They can’t show insurance

This last item is critical, because if anybody gets hurt on your job, the responsibility falls to you, the homeowner.

While the differences between a good contractor and a bad contractor might not be apparent right away, these are a few red flags you should look for. Recognize the warning signs and heed your gut – if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Are you ready for a remodel? Reach out today; we’d love to show you how we can help.

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