There is an old saying that goes: “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.” This rings true whether that be when buying a new car or procuring the services of a home improvement contractor. Yes, there may be times when you stumble upon an amazing deal that seems too good to be true, but actually is true - but unfortunately, this is not the norm. Dishonest salesmen using high-pressure sales tactics to persuade you into purchasing a product or service you do not need or want is common across all industries and sectors, including home improvement. While you can never fully avoid such tactics, you can learn how to spot them and have the upper hand in the situation. We have all been there, and working in the home improvement business we know the common sales tricks less-than-honest home improvement contractors use to try and squeeze as much money out of you as possible. We want to put an end to that, which is why we wrote this article, and help you spot and avoid such sales tricks when choosing a home improvement contractor.
The Too-Low Bids
A bid too good to be true almost always is. Paying more than you have to, especially when it is a sizable investment for whatever home improvement project you are tackling, is something no one wants to deal with. Unfortunately, it is easy to get distracted by attractively low bids and many people do not realize there are countless provisos to these bids, before it is too late. Bids that are just too low, especially when compared with bids from other professional home improvement contractors, can be tempting. We advise being very wary of such bids. Most home improvement jobs, like replacement windows or new siding, are quite costly due to the hard cost of the materials, the professional labor required for proper installation and the insurance needed to cover workers and protect contractors and homeowners alike. Low bids generally mean the home improvement contractor is comprising on one or more of the above, or it may indicate that the entire work scope is not covered in the price and costly change orders will come down the road.
The “Once in a Lifetime” If You Buy Now Deal
Have you ever been told that something was a ‘once in a lifetime offer’ … only if you bought it right now? This kind of offer pressures homeowners to make a rash decision that might not actually be what they want, or in their best interest. Instead, a home improvement contractor should offer you a price, in writing, for the work you want done, and give you ample time to decide if it is right for you. If they say you have 24 hours to decide, they are probably trying to pressure you into a sale. And, if there really is a sale that is ending, it will probably come around again. A genuine and trustworthy home improvement contractor should give you as much time as you need to decide.
Grossly Inflated Prices
When you hear a radio commercial or mailer advertisement claiming that a roofing or window company is giving “Half Off!” your project - that just doesn’t make any sense! How would a professional contractor be able to stay in business if they’re willing to do your project for a 50% discount and not cover their real costs for labor and materials? Plain and simple - they wouldn’t. These companies simply inflate the price of their goods and services to compensate for the huge incentives and discounts they’re going to apply to their final price when they’re pressuring you into signing a contract. This strategy works because people really appreciate the feeling that they are getting a good “deal” - but the reality is that the “good deal” just doesn’t exist.
Unfortunately, there are many dishonest contractors out there who are uninsured and work with cheap, untrained and poorly-supervised laborers. These types of contractors will use your home as a kind of training exercise to figure out how to replace windows or install new siding, or perhaps will return mid-job demanding more money to fix a job they did poorly in the first place.
While you cannot avoid meeting one or two unscrupulous contractors, you can be savvy enough to not engage their services. How? By doing your due diligence. Only engage professional home improvement contractors, ask for multiple references, check their track record and weigh up your options carefully. The end goal is to have a home improvement project that adds value, efficiency and comfort to your home, all at a fair and honest price.