The contracting business is in a pretty difficult stage today however it has always been a problem that in good times and bad people get ripped off by fly by night .. here today gone tomorrow contractors.
This howto is not to say that all contractors that contact you first are bad. Many are looking for extra work to fill in their schedule and this is reasonable. However if you are going to contract with someone that approaches you no matter what their reason or method you must take all the precautions you would with any other company.
So how do you know as a consumer if the person you are dealing with is worth taking a chance with?
We will try to cover some of the situations that you may come across but the main thing that you need to keep in your mind when you are approached by a contractor for business that you did not contact them for is time is always on your side to verify who they are and if they are as good as they say.
Never give in to a contractor that says they have extra materials, paint, driveway sealer, lumber, fence .. WHATEVER that they want to offer you as a discount while they are in the area.. if they have extra from your neighbors work .. it means they don’t know how to calculate materials.. and they are likely to offer extra materials from your job to the next customer and charge you both twice what they paid for them originally.. this is not a deal.. don’t look to get one over on someone in this way.
How do Door To Door Contractors Contact You?
The first thing you may notice is that when the weather gets warm you will have a number of people coming to your home trying to sell you things. Many of them are honest however a good percentage of them do not really care about their profession.
If they are able to do the work for you and don’t simply take a down payment and run off it is likely that you won’t have a way to complain about the service and get it corrected.
The first thing you should ask a door to door contractor for is Identification.
Door to Door ripoff sales people want to talk and talk and never tell you up front who they are and what company they work for. This is because they know that they tick off so many people that they don’t want to be honest with you from the start.
They should be able to give you a business card that lists their Contractor License / Business License from the State. If they say they ran out of cards or don’t have their License number then don’t do business with them. The fact is it only costs about $100 to get your license in most states. It may also require testing or other certification but a License is something a business operator must produce and display in a public way when working with customers. They are hung on the wall in every restaurant and store you enter and should be provided on asking at your door if a sales person is making a sales call.
If a contractor can not provide a license then do not work with them.
This is different then the kid down the street (who’s parents you know) that wants to charge you $15 to shovel your driveway or cut your grass..
Honestly though if you open the door and ask them who they are and what company they work for and they do not immediately give you a full response with Their exact name (not just Joe), The Companies Exact Name, Address Phone and License on a card .. then that is your cue to say no thank you and close the door… or at least don’t do business with them.
After all these people are coming to your home and asking you for work.. the least they can do is immediately tell you who why and what.. then let you get back to your life if you don’t want their service… EVERY REPUTABLE CONTRACTOR WOULD DO THAT… only the ripoff idiots try to hard sell you and it is a clue to you to not do business with them if they cant respect you at your door.. THEY ARE NOT YOUR FRIEND .. they are hard selling sales people that just want to get paid.
Asking for References
This is somewhat old bs .. everyone says that you should ask your contractor for references of prior projects so you can review their work with a former customer.
Well maybe if you are hiring someone to build a complete home for you… you may ask them for some references but in reality you know that the contractor is only going to give you the best of the best and leave out any problem clients they may have so even if you do call some people they are likely to be the best clients he ever had.
On the other hand if you ask the contractor if they have done any work on your neighbors homes .. within your local development you can walk over and ask how it went. It may be helpful but each project is pretty much different and you have to expect that the guys that worked on your neighbor’s house may have even left the company by the time your project starts.
At the very least you should ask for some pictures of prior projects. Every contractor should keep some befores and afters to show prospective clients.
Investigating before you sign the contract.
If you do find that the contractor is someone that you want to work with then you should do a little investigation before you sign the contract.
Ask for their contractor license then call the county and ask if it is valid and if there are any complaints registered.
Call the county permits office and ask for the public listing of any contracts and permits they registered in the past year. Often this is published in the news paper but you should be able to visit the permit office and ask how many permits and for what type of work and what prices have been completed and inspected.
Do an internet search on the business. There are some sites that allow you to complain about contractors. I would take that with a grain of salt .. meaning distrust the anger.. you could be running into competition bad mouthing a contractor.. but it will be useful to see what information a internet search can find you.
The Better Business Borough is basically a BS Service that no one belongs to.. they can not help you unless your contractor is a member and they really can not do much even if they are a member.. At one time the BBB was worth using as a reference but today it is just another badge that companies put out there to try to impress the brain dead.
Dealing with door to door sales is a problem for most of us but it is not to say every person is trying to take you for a ride.
People that perform door to door sales rather then a honest contractor just looking for additional business have a bad smell about them. You know they do not respect you as soon as you open the door. They will try to continue talking when you ask them who they are.. they do not introduce themselves or say their business name in the first sentence .. normally they don’t say it well into the conversation..
Door to door sales people who do it professionally rather then a contractor who is just walking next door to offer their services to you are rude. They are often kids in their teens paid by the hour. They don’t care about the business they work for because they don’t expect to be working there very long.
Contractors are normally respectable .. normally contractors do not even ring doors to get business or put fliers in the mail boxes because they have signs on their trucks to tell everyone in the neighborhood who they are.
So be careful who you work with… there are a lot of great people out there that want and need your business and they will be respectful of you because they care about their job.