Once you have decided you want to have an outdoor living space, the hardest part can be deciding who to choose to build your project. There are plenty of contractors out the who will promise you the moon and then fail to deliver or run off altogether. Much like auto repair shops, contractors as a group have gotten a bad reputation for being flakey or downright dishonest. So how can you protect yourself from a poorly constructed project or even worse, from a contractor who takes your money and runs off to never be seen again? Here are five signs you’re looking at the wrong contractor to build your outdoor style living space.
1. The Contractor has Bad Online Reviews
Let’s face it, in 2014 most of us begin the process towards a large purchase online. Your patio should be no different. Look for reviews on various sites like houzz.com and google.com. You can rule out those with patterns of poor customer service and rule out any contractor who consistently leaves their customers frustrated and unhappy.
2. The Contractor isn’t On Time
Your contractor needs to respect you and your time. When you meet with your contractor for the initial visit make sure that they are on time. This is kind of like a first date: if there is something you don’t like when you meet for the first time it’s probably only going to get worse throughout the construction process. Of course, everyone encounters traffic or gets hung up with another customer. In these cases, avoid the prospective contractor who fails to call with their ETA as soon as they know they are going to be late.
3. The Contractor Doesn’t Give You a Fixed Price
A contractor who will only give you a price estimate can be your worst nightmare when building your backyard project. They often will entice you with what sounds like a nice low price but are leaving the door wide open to jack up the price during the construction process. Many times they will also charge you significant change fees when you add or remove something from the project. Run from this contractor and instead look for one who will give you a fixed price and who doesn’t charge extra fees for changes.
4. The Contractor Charges Extra for Design Drawings
You need to have a good idea of what your new patio is going look like on your house, so design drawings with renderings are very important. If the contractor you are interviewing plans to charge you upfront for design drawings and renderings, look elsewhere. A good contractor will include drawings in their proposal. If your project is very large or your homeowners association requires it, you may need to look to an architect to design your project. If this is the case, you should work together with the contractor and architect to make sure the project is exactly what you want.
5. The Contractor Requests a lot of Money Up Front
The idea of having someone take a large amount of your hard earned money and never show up again can make for many sleepless nights as you look towards building that outdoor living space. The best way to sniff out the dishonest contractor is to ask about the payment schedule for the project. When signing a contract, a small down payment of 10-15% is acceptable but be wary of those who request 50% or more up front, that’s a lot of money to give away before you have gotten anything. There should be a few progress payments throughout the job with a final payment equal to the down payment once the project is substantially complete.
When you’re searching for the right contractor it can be hard to sort out the good from the bad. If your contractor shows one or more of the above signs you are most likely looking at the wrong contractor for you project and could be setting yourself up for disappointment and frustration.
Texas Custom Patios understands the fears and frustrations you have about bad contractors. Because of this, we have designed our design-build process with you in mind. We deliver the best experience by offering professionalism, our price guaranty, design renderings and payment schedules. Give us a call (281-265-1994) to schedule an initial visit to talk about your outdoor living project today.