How Honest is Your Contractor?

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Some of the most trying, stressful times that any homeowner goes through are building a new home or remodeling an existing one. Remodeling can cover anything from a room addition to reroofing the house. During these times, the one thing that a homeowner needs is a contractor that can be trusted.

As a homeowner you should look for certain characteristics when choosing a contractor, which include availability, dependability, accountability and honesty. Let’s take a look at each of these in a little more depth.


You should be able to contact the contractor when needed. It’s easy to get them when the job is being bid and specified. However, some contractors seem to disappear once the contract is signed. In a smaller company, the contractor may be wearing several hats, but even then, he or she should return all calls in a timely manner. If a contractor is hard to find during a job, there may be something to hide. While an office phone and receptionist is preferred, many contractors operate solely from cell phones, especially small operations. Either way, a contractor should contact the owner during all phases of the job, especially if changes need to be made.


The contractor and his or her crew should show up as designated. To be sure, there can be some unforeseen circumstances, but the honest contractor will apprise you of the situation, even if you’re not at the job site. Contractors and crews that just work when they feel like it cannot be trusted to do a good job. This is just one reason why references and research is so important.

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This is a very important characteristic and is shown in several ways. First, the contractor should be able to show you all the necessary licenses, qualifications and insurances necessary for contract construction work. They should secure the permits necessary for the job at hand. If they can’t, there may be a reason, possibly a sanction against them. If the homeowner is asked to get the permits, it should throw up a red flag and further investigation needs to be done. The homeowner has the right to request written proof that both liability insurance and workmen’s compensation paper are up-to-date. This protects the homeowner against loss from accidents, both to the home and the construction personnel.

Mistakes can be made on a job and the contractor must be willing to shoulder the responsibility if it is a fault on their part or of their crew. Contractors who continually try to lay the blame on someone else cannot be trusted.


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A good contractor is honest in all dealings, from the bid to the last nail driven. Dishonest contractors will often spec out sub-par materials in order to secure the bid. Once the contract is signed, however, all sorts of upgrades and changes may be offered or demanded. While the price of building materials does fluctuate, if the price changes dramatically after the signing, it may be a sign of dishonesty. Problems can crop up during a project as well. The honest contractor will be aware of possible unforeseen circumstances and make the homeowner aware of the possibilities and their associated costs in advance.

All of these traits and others, such as quality workmanship, should be considered when hiring a contractor. The cheapest bid is not always the best bid. Only through careful research on the contractor’s background can a homeowner be assured of the best job possible. It takes some effort, but the effort will pay off in the long run.

Steve is president of a home remodeling company in Houston and has been in business for over 25 years. He has experience in all aspects of the industry from custom home building to kitchen remodeling. To see some of his work visit

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