Homeowners are frequently warned to carefully research their prospective contractors before they hire one. If only contractors could do the same before they agree to work with a prospective client!
Unfortunately, there’s no way to do a Yelp search on clients to weed out the troublesome ones in advance. If you want to avoid unnecessary litigation over bogus complaints of construction defects and contract failures, however, you can learn to spot the signs that a particular job isn’t worth the money:
- “The last contractor (or several) had no idea what they were doing.”
There are plenty of shady “contractors” and handymen out there, so this could be true — but listen carefully to your potential customer’s complaints. If every contractor they’ve had was supposedly terrible, it may be best to steer clear.
- “What kind of deal can we work out?”
Everybody loves a bargain, so this is a common (and fair) question. You need to be cautious, however, if the prospective client wants to haggle over the price of everything or doesn’t seem satisfied with any discount you may offer. Be particularly concerned if they seem to be asking you to inflate your price on paper to fool the insurance company about the cost of repairs.
- “Do we have to get a permit?”
Permits are a pain to handle, and they’re costly — but not nearly as costly as skipping the permit and getting caught later. Clients usually want contractors to skip the permit because they’re either in a hurry or hoping to avoid a hike in their property taxes. Don’t go along with this kind of scheme — and walk away if the client insists.
- “Can’t you just pick what looks best?”
You know what happens with an indecisive client? They’re constantly unhappy with the results because — while they didn’t have a clear internal vision of their project, they’re absolutely sure what you did isn’t what they actually wanted. These are the clients that ask for dozens of change orders and still expect the project to come in on-time and under-budget.
It’s far better to avoid a lawsuit than have to defend against one, but every contractor has either already been there or eventually will be. If you’re involved in a construction dispute with an unhappy client, take immediate steps to protect your company’s reputation and your future.