Building & Renovating

10 Signs You’re Dealing with a Bad Contractor

When hiring a contractor for your project, make sure you're working with someone trustworthy and reliable

Photography: Shutterstock

Whether you’re planning a home improvement project or you’ve decided to build your dream home, chances are, you’ve done your research about design professionals you can work with. Aside from looking for an architect and an interior designer, perhaps you’ve taught about tapping the expertise of a contractor? A building contractor plays an important role in construction as he’s involved in planning, leading, executing, and inspecting the project from start to finish. Suffice to say, he’s in charge of making sure the construction runs as smoothly as possible and within the specified timeline and budget. 

While doing your research, perhaps you’ve encountered recommendations on who to hire and tips on what to avoid when getting professional help. There are many dependable design professionals you can work with, but unfortunately, you may have heard about construction horror stories, too. To avoid such mishaps, it’s a must that you pay attention to the people you’re bringing on board to see the project through. 


Why should you hire a contractor?

Your chosen contractor will be an integral part of the construction process. As the person in charge of managing the budget, the schedule, and sometimes, even the workers – he needs to work closely with everyone involved to make sure you’re all on the same page. It’s also important that he has an eye for details so you can guarantee a polished and quality project upon completion. 

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What are the signs of a bad contractor?

Given his responsibilities, it’s important that you hire a contractor you can depend on. How do you know you’re hiring a trustworthy professional? Asking a few questions about his past projects and professional experience is a must. You also need to familiarize yourself with red flags that can help you spot a dodgy contractor as knowing the signs can help you save time and money. Be guided by the warning signs below:


1. No license or registration

As awkward as it might be, asking if he’s licensed or registered is an important step you need to make to move forward with the contractor you’re looking to hire. Avoiding this topic and failing to produce the necessary documents is a cause for concern.

2. Minimal or no reviews at all

Word-of-mouth marketing is an effective way of checking if someone or something is worth investing in. Look up reviews online and try to get in touch with other people he has worked with – you’ll get honest reviews for sure as well as a peek into his work ethic. If you can’t seem to find feedback about his work, might as well move forward with other contractor options.

3. Hard to reach

If for example you’ve already hired a contractor, it’s important that you can get in touch with him easily – especially if you have questions about the project or you simply want updates. Failing to reply to your messages – whether it’s a text, a message on social media, or an email – is a red flag. Tried calling him? If he doesn’t answer your calls or return it as soon as possible, you may want to rethink his contract.


4. Doesn’t show up for meetings

Is he always out and about? Is scheduling meetings an arduous task? If you can’t seem to set a meeting with your contractor, that’s a red flag. The best he can do is inform you if he has other projects or if he has other appointments and how you can meet at the best possible time.

5. Pricing is either too expensive or too cheap

Were you asked to give a huge downpayment? Are their rates lower than others? Your answers to these questions are enough to make you think. Inquire about the services of other professionals so you can compare prices. Research about industry rates and ask those who have hired contractors before how much they paid so you can have an idea of the fees.

6. Reluctant about contracts and written agreements

It’s one thing to have a verbal agreement and another to have it all in writing. According to an article on, “don’t work with someone who doesn’t want a written agreement, as he may not fulfill his end of the bargain.” While a contract may not ensure that he’ll accomplish the project, it gives you something to hold on to in case he suddenly leaves the project.


7. Has bad attitude

If your contractor has poor social skills and a bad attitude, working on the project may not be as pleasing. After all, good communication is key in any undertaking. It’s best to work with someone who is honest, open-minded, and approachable.

8. Working without the necessary permits

Securing the right permits is essential when working on a big project – especially if you’re dealing with structural changes, plumbing, and electrical works. If you’re contractor insists on pushing through with construction without the needed paperwork, that’s definitely a warning sign.

9. Overpromises

Remember, if what he’s promising sounds too good to be true, it probably is. If he offers something that’s priced too low and a quick turnover, it’s a risk of having a subpar project that may cause extra expenses in the future.

10. Avoids questions

Your chosen contractor needs to be able to answer your questions properly as it’s a sign of his expertise, experience, and professionalism. If he constantly avoids answering your queries and often makes excuses, chances are he’s not telling you the truth – a sign that he’s not up for the job.


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Have you tried working with a contractor before? How was the experience? Any tips and stories you’d want to share? We’d love to hear about it! Send us a message on Facebook or email reallivingonline[at]

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