What Paul Revere’s Contractor Has to Do With Yours

Dec 19, 2011 No Comments by

A largely unregulated home improvement trade has been around basically since Paul Revere had someone swap out a bad log in his cabin.  First, those involved in tasks like these were simply called laborers, then handymen, and finally independent contractors.

Although there have been many great strides made toward establishing professional standards for contractors over the years, today there remain no federal regulations governing their conduct. In most states and/or counties, contractors are required to get licenses, but many do not bother, or do the bare minimum to qualify for them—so, generally anyone with a power drill and some caulk can call himself a contractor.

That’s where you and your discriminatory powers come in.

When trying to ascertain whether a contractor is a serious professional or a fly-by nighter that also moonlights as a computer repairmen/dog groomer/short order cook/treasure hunter, be on the look-out for these red flags:

  • The contractor shows up very late for your first appointment with myriad excuses. Professionals are punctual.
  • The contractor asks for a large down payment. Trustworthy contractors simply to not do this. They ask for no down payment, or very little money upfront.
  • The contractor asks you to pay for materials upfront. Again, another no-no.
  • The contractor refuses to supply you with a list of materials. Contractors make good money on marking up the items necessary to do a job that the average homeowner would never think of. If the contractor is honest, he should be willing to itemize materials and costs. Dishonest contractors have also been known to bid one quality and install a lesser quality to make money.

You can rest assured that today there are enough reputable contractors to go around. Home contracting as a profession has come a long way since the times of our Revolutionary leaders—federal laws and directives like FDR’s National Recovery Act and Eisenhower’s Operation Home Improvement have led to the establishment of contractor associations that go a long way toward maintaining professional standards.

As long as you are aware of potential pitfalls, falling in with a crooked contractor is a lot less likely now than if you were living in the 18th Century.

Contractor, Home Improvement, Home Services

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