How It Works

Select the work to be done
Let us know what project you need help with and when you need it done - we'll match you with the right pros for the job.
Compare matched pros
Verify pro credentials, read reviews, ask questions, discuss availability, and request project estimates.
Complete your project
Hire the pro that's right for you and your budget. After the project is complete, let your community know how it went.
Powered by

The Home Depot

5 Warning Signs of a Bad Contractor

Pro Referral > Home Guides > General Contracting > 5 Warning Signs of a Bad Contractor
5 Warning Signs of a Bad Contractor

Interviewing contractors can be a complicated endeavor. It helps if you know a few things to look for up front so that you don’t get stuck in a contract with someone who cannot really perform. You want to ensure you have the best contractor for your job.


There are five warning signs you should look out for when you are starting the hiring process. By asking the right questions, you could save yourself from disaster.

  1. 1.Works Alone

    If your contractor tries to get you to handle the permitting process on your own, it might be a bit of a red flag that they are less experienced than they are letting on.

    Your contractor should have a list of specialists they can call on for specific parts of the job. These include decorators, buyers, plumbers and even architects. If the contractor does not have a team of people they work with regularly you might want to reconsider, why don’t they have a team that wants to work with them?

  2. 2.Doesn't Have a Standard Contract

    Your contractor should have a basic standard contract to start from. While you might make massive additions or revisions to the contract, if your contractor does not offer up some sort of written contract, it is reason to be concerned. Good contractors are not afraid to put things in writing and understand the importance of this step.

  3. 3.Seems Unclear on the Deadlines

    You should be able to speak with your contractor about potential deadlines. They need to be able to give you an idea of how long things will take and if they seem as though they have no idea, that is concerning. It makes you wonder how often they have done this type of work and are they really qualified.

  4. 4.Does Not Provide a List of Detailed List of Materials and Suppliers

    Your contractor should keep accurate records of all materials and suppliers. This is very important, especially for warranties and potential recalls on materials. Keeping accurate records is important and you can even ask to see examples of lists from previous jobs.

  5. 5.Has Trouble with Permits

    Your contractor should be well versed with local area permits. If your contractor tries to get you to handle the permitting process on your own, it might be a bit of a red flag that they are less experienced than they are letting on. If your contractor is new, that is fine, but they should want to learn the permitting process for this job and for their future contracts.


    By going with your gut and checking your facts you can avoid contractor disasters. By digging a little deeper and ensuring your contractor has the necessary experience, you can make sure your project goes off without a hitch. Contractors are typically competent, but you are the one who needs to do the due diligence to make sure your needs are met.

Find Pros

Get your home project started today with help from Pro Referral’s qualified network of pre-screened and background-checked professionals available in your neighborhood.

Get Expert Advice

Submit your toughest home improvement questions to our knowledgeable experts and receive free personalized solutions, product recommendations, how-to advice, and more–all within 48 hours or less.