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5 Red Flags That Should Make You Fire Your Contractor Now!

Can your contractor make changes when your project calls for them? Is it the type that takes correction and also takes his job serious? Is he always bugging you about money for the project? This article sheds light on the inherent red flags that should make you fire your contractor as soon as possible.

Of course your contractor seemed civilized and competent when you first met with him. That’s why you hired him. But sometimes a person can seem like a good person initially and then promptly start acting like the devil’s advocate.

It’s best you spot his real personality early on, when you haven’t: a) shelled out a ton of money for incomplete or shoddy work; b) gotten far enough down the line with the contractor to make it difficult to get out; or, c) driven yourself nearly batty with frustration and/or rage.

A bad contractor can do anything from buy shoddy materials and pocket your extra dough to using alcohol on the job, endangering himself and others. How do you know when it’s time to replace him with a better model? Here are the top 5 red flags that indicates its time you call it quits with your contractor.

1. Can’t Solve Problems.

There’s a reason you hired a contractor instead of overseeing the project yourself: competence. Your contractor should be perfectly able to do the work he said he would do. You don’t need to put up with shoddy, haphazard or unsafe work.

That said, you can’t and shouldn’t expect everything in a build or remodel to go perfectly smoothly. Tools break, workers get sick, and the straight lines on your old house may not be so straight. Whatever the issues, there are likely to be some bumps and bruises along the way to your dream house or dream addition. It’s not necessarily a complete lack of these bumps that indicates a competent contractor; it’s whether your contractor is able to roll with the punches. There’s always a way to make it work. If, time and time again, your contractor can’t make it work, you may need to replace him.

2. Steals from you

Like alcohol use on the job site, theft is a no-brainer. But theft from the job site might be a little trickier to spot than a kid in a candy store with bulging pockets. Instead, your contractor might over-order supplies and then simply truck away the excess when that part of your job is done. Who’d ever know that a contractor was using “extra” supplies to remodel his own bathroom? Or using your extra supplies on a second job site and pocketing the funds from the other landlords?

If you suspect this kind of theft, compare the Bill of Materials list included in your contract with receipts for the materials your contractor actually orders. In extreme cases, you might need to monitor the materials delivered to your site. But once you’ve reached the point of counting boards, you’ll wish you’d fired your contractor long ago.

3. Manages artisans poorly

If you have a wonderful contractor who hires horrible artisans, the sum of the work starts to look a little less rosy. Like a business manager, part of a contractors skill is hiring good people, and the contractor who shrugs his shoulders in apology for bad artisans is passing blame that is really his.

Similarly, a good contractor should manage these artisans and other workers well. Screaming slave drivers rarely hire the right workers or get the best work from them. So, if you see your contractor acting cruelly to his crew, it’s not only the right thing for the workers, but in the best interest of your project, to replace the contractor with a better people person.

Also, it’s your contractor’s job to hire people on the site that work well with you, the landlord. If you can’t get along with a contractor’s employee, it’s the contractor’s job, not yours, to resolve the dispute. If your contractor can’t get rid of a bad egg, you should consider getting rid of the contractor.

4. Use drugs Or Alcohol On The Job

What your contractor does on a Friday night is his business. What your contractor does on the job site is yours. Specifically, you can’t tolerate drug, alcohol or unreasonable smoking of marijuana on your site. Whatever a contractor chooses to take on your site might be his problem but if it impairs his ability to do the job well and safely, it might be time to find someone who can do the job right. And the same goes for your contractor’s employees. If there’s substance abuse on your job site, it’s the contractor’s fault.

5. Has Poor Communication Skill

You’re no building expert. But as the landlord, you have a right to know what’s going on. It’s your contractor’s job to effectively communicate this information to you. A missed call is one thing, but failure to return a call promptly is another. If communication is vague, difficult to understand or delivered with ill temper, your contractor isn’t doing an important part of his job.

In addition to timely and good-natured communication, your contractor should be able to convey exactly what’s going on. In the same way you should be wary of a hard-to-contact contractor, you should beware the vague contractor. A good contractor should know everything about a job’s progress. And he should be willing to tell you about that progress. An evasive or vague contractor is either incompetent or has something to hide.

Remember, your contractor works for you, and regular reports to his boss (you) is part of the job description.

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