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13 red flags to look out for in a home remodeling contractor (before, during, and after a consultation)

August 4th, 2021 | 11 min. read

13 red flags to look out for in a home remodeling contractor (before, during, and after a consultation)

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You start to notice some issues on a particular part of your home that seem pretty serious. Upon further inspection, you decided you need to hire a professional contractor to get the job done. 

After scheduling a few consultations with ones that had the highest reviews, you’re left disappointed. They looked good on paper, but something about that consultation didn’t feel quite right. You were left with that weird feeling in your stomach that they were going to deceive you. 

Whether you’re looking to have your windows replaced, flooring done, or kitchen remodeled, choosing the right contractor is crucial to the success of your project. 

Southwest Exteriors has been a local home remodeling contractor in San Antonio since 1989. We’ve built our business on serving our clients with love and excellence and strive to treat you with compassion and honesty through every step of your project. 

Because we’ve been around for so long, we’ve seen the evolution of how contractors do business with clients. However, some contractors are still stuck in the past, using old sales tactics just to make a sale. 

This article will outline red flags you need to look out for in a contractor before, during, and after your consultation. 

You will be equipped with a comprehensive list of what to look out for during a consultation with any contractor. Knowing the red flags to look for before a consultation allows you to rule out the wrong contractor and protect yourself from a poor business. 

Red flags to watch out for before a consultation with a contractor

Spotting red flags in a contractor before scheduling a consultation will save you the hassle of going through an entire consultation before ruling them out. 

You’ll be able to spot these from just a simple Google search. 

Some of the major signs a contractor is not trustworthy are if they make it all about them, offer a significant discount during your consultation, and if they have no established reviews or internet presence. 

1. If you can’t find any information on the internet

The first major red flag to spot in a contractor is if you can’t find any information about them on the internet. This includes an established website, social media, and reviews. 

Real client reviews are important to look for when researching a contractor. Reviews allow you to read what past clients have experienced when working with this contractor and tell how they handle business. 

Reviews also show the longevity of the contract and if they are established or not.

2. If they don’t have an established storefront

If you Google a contractor, their business profile pops up, and there is no image of a storefront, that is a red flag.

If an image does not show for their store, you can search their address to see where they are located. If the address pops up in a neighborhood and shows someone’s house, this is not a trustworthy installer. 

This means that an individual has created a business out of their own home. While they may be skilled installers in their field, it would be extremely risky to trust them. The chance of them being a skilled installer is very low. 

If you decide to work with an installer you find online that is working from their home, you are more than likely going to get ‘Chuck on a truck.’ This is an industry term that refers to anyone saying they are a home remodeler out of the back of their truck. 

They don’t have any credentials or an established business, so it is in your best interest to not trust them for your window replacement, siding replacement, or any major project that requires a skilled crew. 

3. If one person handles every part of the project

Like an individual running a business out of their home, if you find that one person handles all aspects of the project, like managing, servicing, and installing, this is a red flag. 

This is another sign of a business that is not established, and you cannot risk trusting. Any home improvement project is a lot of work, and entrusting one person to run everything smoothly is a far-off dream. 

Identifying these three red flags before contacting a contractor will save you time by keeping you from having a consultation with a poor contractor. 

Red flags to look for during a consultation with a contractor

Once you finally have a consultation with a contractor, this is where you will be able to see their true colors and identify the red flags. 

Some of these red flags are obvious, while others are not. This is why it is important to be familiar with these characteristics, so you know exactly what to look for. 

4. If they’re more interested in telling stories than doing their job

If a contractor walks into your home and starts sparking conversation about the things you have hanging around, this is a red flag. 

While this may come off as friendly hospitality, they are more often than not just trying to create a false sense of relationship. They will try and find something in common to create a conversation that creates a connection between you and them. 

To put it shortly, they are trying to get you to like them. It is appropriate for your contractor to be friendly and make conversation to get to know you, but if they are only talking about things you have around your house trying to relate in some way, keep your guard up. 

The contractor is there to do a service for you. If they barely talk about the service they provide, you aren’t going to get anything out of the consultation. 

5. If they only talk and never listen

Along with excessively telling stories, a contractor who only talks about themselves and their company and barely lets you get a word in is a red flag. 

If they aren’t asking you questions or listening intently to what you are looking for out of your project, it’s a safe bet that they will not give you what you want. 

A great contractor will center your consultation around you, ask you plenty of specific questions about your project, and listen to and digest what you say. If you walk away from your consultation feeling silenced, unheard, and walked all over, run. 

6. If they talk poorly about competing contractors

While, of course, every contractor wants to do business with you, a contractor who just trash talks their competitors is not normal. This reveals the character of the consultant you are meeting with and the character of the company. 

A great contractor will consider your wants, needs, and goals for your project and be able to tell you when they might not be the right contractor for you and guide you to the right one. 

7. If they offer you a significant discount if you buy today

Some contractors use a popular sales tactic to offer you a large discount, sometimes 40-60%, to entice you to buy today. This is a major red flag. 

A company would not be in business if they constantly discounted projects at that rate. What this tells you is that the regular price for the project is that discounted offer. This means they are lying to you about giving you a discounted price when it is really the true price to make you think you are getting a great deal. 

Another cheesy tactic to offer discounts is if a sales consultant says they will call their manager in front of you to see if they can give you a better price. This is all an act to make you believe they are bending over backward to give you a great deal. 

It is important you do not get roped in by this low price. A good rule of thumb is that in home remodeling, what you get is what you pay for. You will never get the highest quality project for the lowest price. 

8. If they don’t have samples to show you

During a consultation, seeing samples of the product you are interested in is crucial to know you will get what you want. If they don’t have samples to present, how do you know it’s going to look the way you want?

If they don’t have samples during the consultation, they should at least have a showroom where you can look at all the products. If they have neither, this is a red flag. 

Even contractors that pour concrete or do concrete coatings should have small sheet samples of what their product looks like. 

If you don’t see samples during a consultation or can’t visit a showroom, how will you know you will get the quality of product that is promised? Especially if you cannot see previous work that gives them credibility, how can you trust them? 

9. If they can’t show you pictures of their installers

For any home improvement project, you want to know who works for the company and who will be working on your house. 

A high-quality contractor will show you pictures of their installers to create a level of trust and credibility. If they can’t show you who your installers will be, they are more than likely just going to get whatever subcontractor is available that day of your project. 

Those installers could be highly qualified, but they also could not be. You would much rather be safe than sorry when choosing a contractor and know who your installers will be. 

A contractor who has readily available pictures of their installers also means that contractor has an established and trusted relationship with their subcontractors. 

10. If they aren’t telling you everything you need to know

A quality contractor will provide you with all the information you need about their company, products, installation, and warranties. If a contractor does not thoroughly go through all of this information during your consultation, this is a red flag. 

Furthermore, if the contractor is dodging questions or giving you indirect answers that leave you more confused, that is a major red flag. 

Any home improvement project is a big investment, and you need to know what you are getting into. 

11. If they rush through the design process with you

A large part of your consultation should be designing and planning your project, whether it be a window, door, or siding replacement. A contractor who takes the time to design your project with you means they care about your project needs, wants, and goals. 

If they do not design out your project with you or rush you through the process, they more than likely only care about taking your money rather than giving you a high-quality project. 

The design process is important for you to see that this contractor can do what you want and give you the result of your dreams. 

Whether the design process comes during your first consultation or at a later date, the contractor should take their time in guiding you through the process and helping you make the best decisions for your project. 

Knowing the key red flags to look for during a consultation is important to protect yourself against a potentially deceptive contractor. 

Red flags to look for after a consultation with a contractor

If you go through a consultation and still aren’t sure if a contractor is trustworthy or not, there are two key red flags to look out for. 

12. If they don’t follow through with what they said

Communication between a contractor and a client is crucial when building out your project. 

If you leave a consultation and your consultant tells you they will send you a proposal the next day, then don’t, this is a major sign that you should not work with them. 

If they keep saying, “We’ll get that to you by the end of the week,” or, “I’ll give you a call tomorrow to talk about your project,” then don’t follow through, what would the rest of the project be like? 

Not only are they continuously lying to you, but they cannot keep their promises. If you were to work with them on your project, this would only cause stress and worry throughout the entire construction. 

Also, if you reach out to them over email, text, phone, or however, and they do not respond within a few days, this is a red flag. Responsiveness in a contractor is important to know they work promptly and with purpose. 

13. If they never tell you what the next steps are, especially once you’ve given a deposit

Any quality contractor will always let you know what the next steps are in your project, whether it’s right after the consultation or later during the installation. 

Along with not following through with what they say, leaving you in the dark about what’s next is the second red flag. Not knowing what your next steps are or what is happening next creates anxieties and uncertainty that you do not need. 

Furthermore, if you have already given a deposit and are not told what is happening next with your project, that is a red flag. While yes, the contractor is leaving you in the dark about your project, like paperwork and start dates, they may be scamming you. 

Preparing yourself to choose the right contractor 

This is why spotting red flags in a contractor early on is crucial. You want to be able to rule out the low-quality ones before wasting too much time and money. 

However, you must always be on guard throughout the entire process. If you have a good feeling about them during the consultation, still be alert and look for these red flags following. Finding the right contractor for you is essential to the success of your project. You want to be assured that your contractor has your best interest through the entire process and that you can trust them. 

Spotting these red flags is the easiest way to distinguish between a great contractor and a not-so-great one. Doing thorough research into the contractors you’re looking at and what you need out of your project, is another important element to choosing the right contractor. 

Just like in a romantic relationship, you need to have standards and be strict to keep them. When meeting with contractors, that is the dating phase. You need to make sure they check all your boxes before signing on the dotted line and committing to them.

With Southwest Exteriors, our goal is to serve you with compassion, love, and excellence in the San Antonio area. We never want you to feel pressured into a sale and want to work with you to give you your dream project. 

Communication is also a key principle we work off of. We never want you to feel in the dark throughout your project and always communicate with you about what is going on. 

Want to know if Southwest Exteriors is the right contractor for you? Check out this article that talks a little bit about who we are and three questions you need to ask before committing to any contractor.