Top 3 Basement Contractor Red Flags

Red flags depicting what to watch out for in a basement contractor

So, you want to finish your basement. Good for you! It means more space, more functionality, and a better life for you and your family. Now you have to find the perfect basement contractor.

How do you know who to pick?

There are companies whose specialty is basement finishing and remodeling. They do nothing but basements. Many contractors do all kinds of renovation and finishing, and can do the work just as well.

When it comes to your house, you want the job done in a timely fashion, on budget, with few surprises. You also want the quality of the work to last for many years. 

One Way to Find the Right Basement Contractor

In your search for the perfect basement contractor or basement remodeling company, you should interview and get a quote from several candidates, so you have something to compare.

As you listen to what each contractor has to say, there are three red flags to watch out for.

Red Flag #1: No Permits

A company that delivers top-quality work every time will be up-front about the fact that they never do work without pulling permits and without ensuring that everything they do is up to code.

If you are looking for someone who will do the job “under the table,” so to speak, you might be setting yourself up for failure in two situations: 

  • If the work ends up being dangerous or failing in some way due to code violations.
  • When you go to sell your house, and the inspector finds the work not done up to code. It’s up to you to either fix it or give the buyers money off the house’s sale.

Red Flag #2: Can Start Work Right Away

Most great contractors have a full schedule of work lined up long before they come to give you a quote. There’s a reason for this.

Great work speaks for itself and comes in high demand. Many firms will provide you with a start date weeks or even months out from when you agree upon terms and sign a contract.

If a contractor says he can start the next day, you should make it your business to determine why. 

Likewise, if someone says they can complete the job in two weeks, you should be suspect and ask them how that could be. Most basement companies will tell you it takes 6-8 weeks to complete all the essential work in a basement renovation.

Red Flag #3: Low Bid

As we’ve discussed on this blog in the past, one low bid is usually the one you need to throw out. It can signal that a contractor is going to cut corners to get the job.

Where will the corners be cut? Maybe materials, maybe personnel, but the point is you don’t want that on your job. A reputable company knows it can’t cut corners and still make everything safe and make sure everyone gets paid. 

A higher bid could also be a red flag. However, it’s worth asking about the details of what is causing the higher cost. Is this contractor going along with your ideas without giving his input from years of experience? 

To recap, if you hear exactly what you want to hear, it might be the worst possible choice. We understand that many homeowners want to save money and get their basement renovation started right away.

Just beware that these are often red flags, and you may end up paying more to fix the bad job that was done the first time. 

Pro Tips for Hiring a Basement Contractor

Hiring a professional to finish your basement is like any other home remodeling project. You want to make sure you tick all these boxes:

  • Interview at least three candidates, and be upfront about it.
  • Look for timely communication. You should get a bid within a week or two.
  • Verify this contractor’s licensing – general contractor, plumbing, and electrical.
  • Verify insurance.
  • Ask for references, and say that you’d like to see past work in person.
  • Confirm and verify the licensing of all subcontractors.
  • Make sure you get a detailed contract, payment schedule, and work timeline.

Bringing it Home

Choosing the right basement contractor often comes down to doing a lot of homework and asking many questions. If you look out for these red flags, you can weed out any potential problems right out of the gate.

Do you live in Southeast Michigan? If you have any questions about remodeling your basement or any part of your house, please give us a call! We’re always here to help.

Call today!


Photo: LucenaMedina / CC BY-SA resized

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