Top 6 Ways To Spot Dodgy Contractors

Contractors and home service providers are kind of like doctors in that, they’re notorious for making you wait and keeping you in the dark (sometimes even literally).  That’s a bit of an unfair rep though, as there are plenty of very reliable home contractors who are masters of their trade and will go to great lengths to deliver an excellent service.

As for those dodgy builders, painters, plumbers and electricians who give the rest a bad name – here’s how to spot them.

If you’re honest, you probably had a feeling (good or bad) about your last home service provider off the bat:  The big-time architect who’s down to earth and happy to build three patio steps for you in his quieter times… or the expensive and professional paving company who’s guys work unsupervised for days – getting your grass full of cement, ignoring your instructions and tiling over your storm water drain.

If you’d like a little more than feelings to go by the next time you need to make home improvements, here are our top five ways we spot dodgy contractors.

No. 1: Poor telephone etiquette

There aren’t many excuses for not having basic manners and it could be a good indication of the pride someone takes in their work.

If you phone their number for the first time and the contractor or receptionist answers without introduction, demanding (by way of words or attitude) to know why you have bothered them, try another number!


No. 2: They can’t meet you today because they are due in court…

…or for a disciplinary hearing… or can never tell you exactly when you may expect them at your home.

The home improvement industry is unpredictable by nature, but when a contractor can give you no indication, even morning or afternoon, of when they will honour you with their presence, they’re simply unreliable and do not value your time.

If they tell you they’ll swing around sometime this week, or forget to send you a quote, they don’t value your business either.

No. 3: Can’t tell you what something will cost, or how long it will take…

Although one should steer clear of wasting six different providers’ time by having them compile endless quotes with slight variations, there’s nothing wrong with needing to know, within a margin at least, what something will cost.  It’s also your prerogative to decline the work based on that cost estimation.

Most contractors are perfectly happy to come out and do an obligation free quote, but if they’ve seen the project and still have a hard time telling you what it will cost, you can bet it will end up being more than you had in mind.

If you do get a quote and turn it down, and the provider gets aggressive, saying you won’t be able to do it for cheaper elsewhere and that sort of thing, you definitely don’t want to continue with that relationship.


No. 4: Asking for advances on current or future jobs

Work is scarce in our current economic climate and we don’t even need to talk about the disproportionate amount of hardworking people struggling in poverty.  So asking for the first day or two’s work in cash is perfectly fair and acceptable.

It is when, however, contractors start asking for full payment before completion, or for advances on future jobs, that you have cause for concern.

No. 5: Having a “There: I Fixed It” kind of attitude

No task seems to be outside of this contractor’s skillset, and we don’t mean in a good way.  He / she never admits to being unable to do something for you because another type of professional is required, or because it’s simply not the right way of doing it and they refuse to take shortcuts.

When a contractor or home improvements professional seems to think that you, a paying customer, should be satisfied with a backyard, slapped together, make-shift kind of solution, it’s because they simply do not know how to fix it.

No. 6: Don’t clean up after themselves

Again, this one comes down to simple etiquette. If your contractor destroyed your plants, left drill sand on your shelves or a hole in the floor where he dropped the spanner, you don’t want to be calling him again.

Unfortunately, we often feel too bad or even unsure of ourselves to trust these feelings of unease.  We don’t want to make a scene, we don’t want to tell someone how to do their job and it will all probably turn out OK.  It seldom does when it starts out this way though and you, the client, are often left with the sub-standard work, wishing you had trusted your gut and give the job to a skilled service provider who deserves is instead.

Belinda Fourie
About me

Business Owner l Decorator I Writer l Book Lover l Theatre and Gallery Stalker I Wannabe Beekeeper. Belinda has been a writer for as long as she can remember - even before completing degrees in Drama and Theatre Arts; and Journalism. After 6 years of working for the man, she decided to follow her passions to wherever they may lead her… which was her own interior decorating company called Tassels & Tigers Interiors. Here she hunts for, touches, photographs and buys beautiful things for fascinating people… and then writes about it. "Online Decor Consultations, Boxed Room Makeovers, Full Decorating Projects, Shopping Mornings" 071 895 2147


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