Updated: Jun 29, 2020
What are good questions to ask a contractor?
When you are hiring a contractor it is important to ask plenty of questions upfront so you can property compare them properly. It is also important to interview multiple contractors to ensure that you are getting the best deal.
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN WORKING IN THE INDUSTRY?
It is important to have a contractor who has been around the block a few times. Hiring the newest contractor can sometimes be cheaper but they might not be able to handle unexpected surprises or accidentally do something wrong that could cost you more.
ARE YOU LICENSED IN COLORADO?
General Contractors need to be licensed at the municipal level to complete work. Plumbers and electricians register with the state of Colorado however they generally need to present their license yearly to the municipal area to be able to pull permits in Denver. You want to hear an outstanding yes!
DO YOU CARRY WORKMAN'S COMPENSATION FOR YOUR EMPLOYEES?
If the contractor does not hold workman's compensation you may be on the hook if someone is injured on the job which could end up costing you tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars. Some jobs have exceptions for this in Colorado such as those doing less than $2,000 per year or independent contractors with no employees.
DO YOU HAVE LIABILITY INSURANCE OR ARE YOU SURETY BONDED?
If the company messes up and accidentally breaks something in your home, you want them to have insurance to help cover that cost. The difference between liability insurance and bonded is that an insurance company is paid on a monthly or yearly basis and will pay out if there is an issue. If the company is bonded, they have put aside a set of money with a surety company which is their money that could pay out if there is an issue that would arise.
WHAT IS THE BEST WAY TO GET IN TOUCH WITH YOU?
Knowing the preferred means of communication can help ensure you get a timely response. It can also help know the legitimacy of the company if it only has a P.O. box.
WHAT IS AN ITEMIZED COST ESTIMATE OF THE PROJECT?
Having a written estimate can help reduce any future disputes about the price of the project. It can also help you know exactly what you are paying for and if something goes higher than expected you can verify exactly what occurred and was it unreasonable to estimate that in the first place.
What is the estimated time for this project to be completed?
Knowing the approximate time for the project can help you understand if something seems to be going off. It also holds them accountable if there are multiple projects that are being worked on and if they push yours off. If it is a large project set milestones and understand the time it will take to achieve each one.
What should you not say to a contractor?
When working with a contractor it is important to keep some knowledge to yourself to ensure a truthful transaction.
YOUR THE ONLY ONE BIDDING ON THE JOB
When you are hiring a contractor you want to have multiple bids. This will help ensure they are truthful and that everything aligns. A bid that is extremely low or high should be a warning sign.
NAMING YOUR BUDGET
Naming your budget is an issue since magically the contractor will come in just around this number. They'll find a way to hit that budget if that includes quoting additional labor, some side jobs or excessive materials.
I'LL PAY UPFRONT
Even if offered a discount, it is extremely risky to pay a contractor entirely upfront. Some contractors will take the funds and complete a good job, however others may take the money and run. Even if they complete the task they may do a sloppy job knowing that if you are unhappy you don't have any leverage left.
Are contractors always late?
Not all contractors are late, however if you have one that is it might show that it is a bad contractor. Contractors should be processional and keep to the times that they have set. They do juggle multiple jobs and part of construction is unexpected surprises so sometimes it is not their fault. They should always however at least notify you that they are going to be late instead of leaving you hanging.
What contractors hate about clients?
Contractors hate arrogant clients. The contractor is the professional in their line of work and a client who comes off as a know it all. When this occurs, a contractor could even pass on the clients job.
When a client starts talking only about how bad all contractors are it is likely there is an issue with the client. The client could have unrealistic expectations, not understand how to property scope work or more. Contractors sometimes have to act as a therapist to ensure the client they are in good hands.
Uncertain clients can cause lots of change orders throughout a build process and run up costs and time. These changes can eat into other projects that the contractor has promised to other clients. It can also make the contractor look bad at the end when the project is over time, over budget and the client still seems to have wanted something to be a different outcome.
Contractors at least think that they have reasonable prices and just like clients who work their job want a raise. When a client is constantly haggling over every dollar it can become very time consuming and effect their morale.
What should i do if i hire a bad contractor?
The first step to handling a bad contractor is to document everything. This includes archiving any email or phone calls, take photos of any issues and it might be worth hiring a separate contractor for a second opinion. Also track all of your payments such as credit card details or canceled checks. Since you want your money back, you have to prove it was given to the contractor in the first place!
It is time to let your contractor go and tell them that you do not want them working on the job anymore. This will help stop any additional fees from work that you could incur. This is why it was important to have completed your evidence step first so that there isn't anything that could be covered up. It might also be worth pointing out the termination clause in the contract.
Verify if the contractor is licensed in Colorado or that state that this job occurred. From there you can file a complaint with the property agency, for Denver you would file with the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies.
Credit Card Dispute
If you paid by credit card contact your card issuer and file a credit card dispute. This dispute has teeth and if it is won they can back charge the contractors bank. This dispute process can take months however you can use this dispute in tandem with other dispute methods. I previously engaged in one of these and won thousands of dollars back!
At a minimum it can help to file a poor review on Yelp, Google Reviews and more. Using this technique can put pressure on the contractor to help solve your issue to hopefully come to the negotiation table. Worst case scenario you are helping to warn someone else of the bad contractor.
FILE SMALL CLAIMS LAWSUIT
Filing a claim in small claims court allows you to sue in Colorado for up to $7,500. Utilizing small claims court you do not need to hire a lawyer and can represent yourself. If things go above this you will likely have to consult an attorney.