The key to any home improvement project is great communication between the homeowner and the contractor. When you’re working with a contractor, they should be asking you a lot of questions. That way, they can understand your vision and expectations for the project to better create a comprehensive scope of work or proposal – a necessary piece to any successful home remodeling project.
However, there are some things that a contractor just shouldn’t ask you or shouldn’t say in general. Sometimes, they may misspeak, but other times it could be a red flag about their business practices. Here are five things a contractor shouldn’t say and what they should ask or say instead.
#1: Will you be alone for the consultation?
This question can seem intrusive and downright creepy. Other forms of this question include, do you live alone, and are you married? While the intent behind this question is typically to find out if you are the only decision-maker for the project, it’s never appropriate to ask in this way. We’ve heard from multiple female clients that other contractors badgered them about where their husband was, whether they were widowed, and even if their father could be there, which is entirely inappropriate.
Instead, the contractor should ask if all of the homeowners will be present for the meeting. At Brothers, we’ve found that having everyone involved in the decision present for the initial consultation makes a project go much more smoothly. Even if one of the homeowners is taking the lead on the project, having everyone there to ask questions ensures that all parties have the same expectations from the start.
#2: I need your credit score before we meet.
A contractor should not need your credit score to give you a bid on a project. Other things they might ask include if you have a job, whether you’ve filed for bankruptcy, and even if you are able to pay for this project. Money can be a touchy subject, and a legitimate contractor will know how to handle payment appropriately.
Alternatively, the contractor will likely ask you how you would like to handle the payment. If you are paying with a loan or financing through the contractor, it should not affect your project's priority level and your value as a customer. However, the contractor does need to know how they will be paid, and that information should always be in your formal contract. For example, Brothers offers flexible payment options so customers can make unplanned replacements easier or bring their dream home within reach.
#3: Before I give you a bid, can I see the other ones you’ve gotten?
Contractors should come up with their own bid without seeing their competition. Depending on the type of work you’re having done, the contractor may ask you who else you are considering for the job. A good contractor will create a comprehensive scope of work and talk through their bid with you, so you understand the cost breakdown before making a decision. Some contractors will use the information from a competitor’s quote to present you with a lower price to get you to sign a contract. What they won’t mention is after you’ve signed the contract there will be change orders and other things that “pop-up” causing your project to cost as much as the original competitor’s quote, or sometimes even more. You do not need to give them any of this information if you don’t want to and they should not press the issue.
#4: We’re going to need 100% of the payment up front.
Discussing payment is definitely something that will happen before work starts. But what shouldn’t happen is paying for the entire project up front. Some shady contractors will even hold your money for months without beginning work, or scammers could take the money and disappear. Your contractor will likely ask for a down payment up front, which is completely normal. However, down payments tend to be around 1/3 of the project cost, never the project's entire cost.
#5: We don’t need a license.
Almost every project around your home requires a license. Another red flag is if the contractor’s license is expired or from a different state. Without the right licensing, you could be held liable for worker injuries, or your home could need additional repairs in the end. Plus, it’s illegal to engage in home improvement in Maryland without a license.
Your contractor should be up front about their licensure and insurance before you sign any contracts with them. In fact, you can and should check the status of a contractor’s license online for businesses in the state of Maryland.
Make sure you do the proper background research before hiring anyone to do work on your home so you can choose the right contractor. Brothers’ master craftspeople have been improving Maryland homes for more than three decades, so it’s no wonder why over 10,000 of your neighbors invited us into their homes last year. If you’re looking for a full-service remodeler for any project around your home, schedule a consultation with one of our remodeling experts today.