March 12th, 2021 in


How to spot the rot when hiring a builder or home improvement contractor?

A builder or home contractor, depending on where you live, is the person at the top of any construction project right below the owner. Having a skilled and trustworthy person at that level is very important for the project to come up as desired. But is it that easy to find the right home contractor?

Construction and renovation are ranked number 2 in consumer complaints based on a survey in the USA. So, do you want to be the one complaining? I guess not. We will help you find if the person is really qualified, dedicated and experienced in his role and filter contractors to find the right one suiting your needs.


Who is a builder? Who is a home contractor?

But before that, we will clear the air on who is what.

Home contractor, building contractor, principal contractor, builder, general contractor all refer to the same person who manages the whole construction project, directs the subcontractors.

Similarly, Home Improvement Contractor, home addition contractor, renovation contractor refers to the same role of taking up renovation projects.


How to spot the rot when hiring a building or renovation contractor?


Red Flags Before Hiring a Home Contractor

From Visually.



Ask for the builder’s license

The easiest and straight forward method to know the contractor’s qualification to do the proposed job is their license. Every country, state has a regulatory body that issues builder licenses to professionals to carry out various construction tasks. So, someone without a license is a big no-no.


Is the home contractor’s portfolio work outdated or untraceable?

The portfolio is the next step in getting to know the workmanship of the home contractor. An experienced person and an outdated portfolio don’t match. Which can mean most of the work is not on par or they weren’t active during the period. Having random house images that lack details is even more sketchy.


Is the builder’s quote suspiciously low?

It is very common to get quotes from multiple builders. What if one gives a quote way lesser than the rest? He is probably compromising on the material or cutting corners elsewhere. If in case you decide to go with the lowest bidder, make sure to read the contract in and out.

Check out the Contractor Price Request Template that can speed up your process of getting the quotes and comparing.

Always finds a way to skip on the contract

If you don’t sign a legal contract with the builder chances are you can’t claim insurance, demand work or even complain. A legal contract is a key to any contract work. Someone deflecting from signing a contract is a clear sign of chaos.


Does the home contractor ask for advance payment?

A home contractor usually gets payments in parts after work commencement or in whole after completion. Pre-payment is very unusual and unadvisable.


Builder prefers cash

Paying by cash to a certain limit is fine. But demanding the whole of the builder’s payment by cash is not ideal. It is possible the contractor can’t account the money as income or doesn’t have the legal in place. It can also reflect back on your taxes in a negative way.


Does the builder advise against permits?

The system of seeking permits from various departments is not to complicate the building or renovation process. It is to ensure safety standards are met and to coordinate the working of the public amenities. It is essential to get the right permit before starting work.

The absence of permits might void your insurance and also lead to legal action for skipping on it.


Doesn’t value insurance?

Insurance can be a saviour in some cases and is a necessity in most cases. Most state regulations require insuring the property and the people working in it. If a builder is cheap out on insurance or leaving it out, you must definitely avoid them.


Is stubborn with the choice of materials, mostly sub-par?

Choice of materials matters to the strength and the looks of any construction, be it renovation or building it ground up. The owner gets a say at every level. If you find a tradie forcing materials of his choice every time, chances are he is commissioned by the brand.

Be clear in terms of material right from the start of the contract period and always have a watch over the builder to avoid such circumstances.


No branding, listing or references

It is very difficult to see a builder without branding. Some logo on the van, construction board ensures the dedication to work. The absence of the same should leave you wondering why.



How to hire a builder?

The above list of red flags applies to everyone in the hierarchy of contractors for home construction and remodelling starting from the principal contractor.

The construction process can go wrong at any part of the process. It is the responsibility of the owner to always stay attentive and take part in the whole process. Always look for suspicious moves and know the consequences.

Sure, sites like are great. But sourcing a contractor through word of mouth is safer and less prone to issues. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try hiring a contractor online. Look for contractors in sites where every listing is verified as in

Read our guide to hiring a builder/contractor for more insights. Or you can directly connect with me on a free 15min consulting call to get things clarified.


If you are afraid of all these and you are available with time, get an owner-builder license. Becoming an owner-builder not only saves hassles but also money up to 30%.




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