How to Find a Good Contractor - Or Help Others Spot a Bad One

Lesley F. | Friday, March 12, 2021

Every homeowner has the same nightmare: They’ve hired a contractor for a long-awaited home improvement project, and the contractor botches the job — or just walks off without finishing.

You can take steps to spot shady contractors before making an expensive decision on whom to hire for your home improvement project. However, if doing your due diligence still results in a negative experience with your contractor, carefully composing an intelligent negative review and posting it to the right places can help other homeowners avoid your costly mistake.

How to Spot a Shady Contractor

How to Spot a Shady Contractor

Knowing where to find contractor reviews and checking for any warning signs is a great place to start. Reputable contractors are usually able to show you examples of their previous work, and an unwillingness to do so can be a red flag. Similarly, a trustworthy contractor should provide proof of valid licenses, registrations and applicable insurance coverage. Contractors who expect full payment in cash upfront or who use high-pressure sales tactics are often hiding something negative. Ultimately, don’t discount your intuition; hiring a contractor involves letting them into your home, and getting a bad vibe from a candidate can be reason enough to hire someone else.

How to Compose an Effective Review of a Bad Contractor

If you’ve already had a bad experience with a contractor despite your legwork before hiring, wanting to help others avoid your costly mistake is understandable. However, writing a negative review can have unwanted repercussions. Today’s society can be litigious, and there are numerous examples of customers who have been sued after writing bad reviews for car repair technicians, pet sitters and more. This shouldn’t discourage you from writing a bad review for a contractor who deserves one, but take steps to avoid anything that could lead to more trouble than the original poor contracting work caused you.

In general, aim to be as clear and concise as possible in your review. As much as you may want to include your opinion, speculate on the contractor’s motivations or resort to hyperbole, be as neutral and factual as possible in your review. If you do insist on making strong statements, explicitly stating “this review is my opinion” can help insulate you from claims of defamation by the contractor.

The Best Places to Post Contractor Reviews

The Best Places to Post Contractor Reviews

While general sites like Yelp and YP.com allow you to read and post reviews of everyone from plumbers to dentists, posting your experience on a contractor review website that is aimed at helping those embarking on home improvement projects will ensure that your warning about your bad contractor reaches those whom it will help most. Angie’s List has been the gold standard for user reviews for years and is a great place to start. HomeAdvisor boasts more than 5 million reviews with a user base of 30 million homeowners, but it has a relatively limited number of contractors listed for review. Houzz has a database of contractors almost as large as Angie’s List, and its user base is growing rapidly.

Ultimately, posting a negative review for a contractor who deserves one helps other homeowners avoid your bad experience and contributes to building a community of reviews, providing you with better guidance in return for your next home improvement project.

About The Author

Lesley F. graduated from Brown University and her professional experience includes researching, assessing and aggregating real estate market statistics, such as vacancy rates, market rents, absorption, and inventory; authoring marketing materials, including pitch books, offering memoranda, and marketing reports.

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