A Dozen Red Flags for Construction Projects

red-flags-ForstWhen you have hired a contractor to remodel, rebuilt or repair your home, there are dead giveaways that trouble is soon to come. In the industry we call those “red flags.” Knowing what to look for, and how to circumvent problems before they happen, puts you in the driver’s seat when controlling your project.

12 Common Construction Project Red Flags:

Bids are incomplete

When taking bids from potential contractors, check to ensure that all information is provided including references. Take the time to check their website, references with both homeowners and subcontractors, and search their social media presence. You can learn a lot from what people put online.

Certifications are lacking

Check a potential contractor’s credentials, certifications and insurance. Make sure they are qualified and able to do the job.

Unready to begin

Most contractors are anxious to get to work on the job and get paid. If your contractor is sluggish about getting to work, there may be a reason why. They may not be able to acquire qualified subcontractors willing to do the work for the price quoted, for instance. Or they may be tied up with other jobs.

Regularly late to the job

Nothing is more frustrating than a series of excuses of why a contractor is always late. Their lateness could be an indication of personal behaviors that don’t allow them to easily get going in the morning, or a foretelling of less-than-dedicated work ethics.

Doesn’t show up at all

A contractor is a professional, and professionals hold to their commitment schedules or at least notify others if unforeseen circumstances prevent the appointment from occurring. A no-show contractor or subcontractor is a definite red flag that can indicate sloppiness.

Subcontractors change often

Most contractors employ regular teams of subcontractors with whom they have worked in the past, and trust. A constant turnover of subcontractors can mean that there is a problem with their relationship with the contractor or it could mean that your contractor is looking for a less expensive option in order to keep more of the payment himself.

Performs work without approval

The job scope is defined in the contract, with specifications and drawings approved by the architect. If it seems the contractor is not following the prescribed plan or rushing to install items without checking first, they may be trying to cut corners or use sub-standard materials or labor practices. Any changes to the original plans should be documented in a change order, and approved and signed by all parties before work takes place.

Materials are switched

Your contract outlines the materials to be used at each point in the job, from building materials to fixtures and appliances. Stop the contractor if you notice that selections have been changed or substitutions were made without your approval. This may be an attempt to cut corners in order to pocket the difference.

The job is taking forever

Your original contract outlines the scope of the project, which includes begin and end dates and checkpoints along the way. If the contractor is constantly making excuses for why things aren’t done, look out. It may mean they are inept, incompetent, or that your job simply isn’t a priority for them.

You notice safety issues

Safety for the contractor, subcontractors and even the homeowners is of paramount importance on every job. If you notice safety violations or feel as if the people you hire are careless with safety precautions, wave the red flags and stop work until the issue is corrected.

Inspection failures happen regularly

Inspections are required by the county or jurisdiction in which the construction takes place, and an occasional failure may be taken into stride, with a valid explanation. When inspection failures occur regularly, it is time to question the contractor’s work.

Inspections indicate serious code violations

Serious code violations are extremely dangerous to you as a homeowner, especially when they involve mechanical or electrical systems, foundations or structural elements. For safety, rely on your jurisdictional inspector’s ruling, not your contractor’s word.

Seeing Red Flags? Contact Först Consulting Group

Red flags are warnings that something is not right, and should be heeded. If you have questions about a contractor’s work, there is a resource you can call.

We at Först Consulting Group act as construction advocates to protect homeowners against builder fraud and construction errors. We can help you select a contractor, review contracts, monitor work, provide periodic inspections, check code compliances, and help you document errors as proof for remediation purposes. If you do need to go to court, we can serve as an expert witness there too.

Protect yourself and your Northern Virginia/DC home with a Construction Advocate like Först Consulting Group. Contact us today.


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