How to tell a Pro… from a Con

The Craigslist ad seemed legit at first. Discount Flooring & Remodeling Services wasn’t necessarily the catchiest name for a contractor service you’d ever heard of, but it was the price that really caught your eye: $100 flat instillation fee per room. And that wasn’t even the best part! Wood panel OR tile, it read. 

You thought, “I can do the whole first floor for peanuts!” So you gave them a call.

Two weeks later you find yourself with an unlivable living room, a dining room not even your dog would dine in, and a kitchen so cluttered you need a hard hat—not an apron—to enter.

And the worst part? Discount Flooring already cashed your check. 

You get online again, but now the ad is gone. You call, but their phone number is disconnected. You’re looking at what used to be a linoleum floor, shaking your head, when it hits you.

You’ve been ripped off. 

Unfortunately, a contractor’s license is not required to post an ad online, and unscrupulous charlatans abound on unregulated sites like Craigslist. Before you hire anyone, whether you heard about them from an online ad or your Aunt Edna, there’s a few things to look for to make sure you’re dealing with a pro, and not a con

‘Skill’ Means More Than Just Owning a Saw

The first thing you need to figure out when considering working with a contractor is their level of skill. A good way to find out is to ask what kinds of certifications they carry.

For example, in flooring there is what’s called a Certified Tile Installer, a certification accredited by the Ceramic Tile Education Foundation, a national nonprofit that runs a comprehensive training and testing program for tile installers. A CTI should have an original certificate, a plastic wallet identification card with the CTEF logo on it, and they and/or their business should be listed on the CTEF Website as a member. 

Other organizations, such as the International Standards and Training Alliance and the National Academy of Floor Covering Training offer their own various certification programs. Perform a web search for any organizations that sound fishy. 

For Future Reference…

The best way to find out what it’s like to work with a particular contractor is to ask a few previous clients about their experiences. Any construction company on the up-and-up ought to have a list of satisfied customers ready to provide to you.

Here are some questions to ask to get a better sense of what kind of work the company you’re dealing with does:

Start by asking what kind of work they performed for the client. If it was flooring, was it wood panel or tile? Kitchen, living room or bathroom? Did it involve a lot of demolition or was it pretty straightforward?

Next ask about their timeliness. Did they show up on the days and times they said they would? Did they complete the work within the estimated timeframe?

Ask about the worksite. Was it clean and tidy, especially when the contractor left for a weekend or holiday? Were you able to freely use other parts of your home during construction, or did the equipment and materials take up space outside the room(s) being worked on (garage, patio, adjacent room, etc.)?

How was communication with the contractor? Did they return calls in a timely fashion? Were they ever difficult to get a hold of? If there was a problem or delay, did they reach out immediately or wait for you to call them?

What was it like working with them? Did they listen to your ideas as the homeowner or did they try to bully you into doing it “their way”?

How was the quality of their work? Would you hire them again? Would you recommend them to friends and family?

How pleased were you with the finished product? Would you change anything if you had it to do over again?

How did the contractor handle billing? Were there any extra expenses or was the final bill the same as the estimate (or even less)? Was payment processed quickly (no holding onto checks for weeks and weeks)? Were all the terms of the contract fulfilled?

Finally, ask the client how they would rate the contractor’s professionalism, ethics and honesty. Did they feel they got quality work for a fair price, or was there anything sketchy about their interaction with the contractor?

Flooring Masters & Professional Remodelers have extensive experience working with hardwood and tile and are ready to answer all these questions and more. Our certified installers have the ingenuity and know-how to assist you in transforming your home. Call or email today for a consultation and let us guide your next project.