It is an unfortunate truth that finding a good flooring contractor can be confusing at best. How can one with no experience installing floors be expected to know what a flooring job done by a qualified contractor looks like? What does a bad flooring job look like, for that matter? More importantly, how is someone supposed to determine whether or not the contractor they're hiring is trustworthy?
Like with anyone you meet, you won't be able to make a perfectly accurate conclusion about your contractor's personality right away, but there are definitely some red flags that you can look out for. If you notice any of these during your initial communications with your contractor, run for the hills! You'll save yourself a lot of frustration and possibly even money if you do.
1. No License or Insurance
Be wary if your contractor doesn't have a license for the work he is doing. It is actually illegal to work as a contractor in Michigan without being licensed, and the last thing you want is to get into trouble for hiring someone who is breaking this law. It could also mean that your contractor is inexperienced installing floors or uneducated about the legal side of the work he or she is doing. Either way, it would be a gamble to hire someone without this qualification.
Similarly, it is a huge risk to bring on a contractor that is not insured. Any kind of construction work comes with unforeseen risks, both to your home and their health. If an uninsured contractor damages your home in the process of installing your floor or get's injured on the job you could end up footing the bill.
2. Can't Answer Your Questions
Floor installation is a skill that requires a good bit of experience and know-how. This, of course, means that you will need a contractor that has all of the necessary information about how to properly and safely install a floor. We recommend that you do a bit of research and test your contractor by asking some basic technical questions. If they cannot answer quickly and with confidence, then you're working with someone who does not yet have the knowledge they need to work on your floor.
3. Poor Communication
Because of their busy schedules and the unforeseen delays that every contractor faces, you may have to approach a project with some extra understanding and flexibility. Showing up a bit late sometimes is normal in the flooring world, but all delays past a few minutes should be accompanied by a phone call. If it seems like your contractor is ghosting you or even if they are just being inconsiderate about your schedule you should start looking for a replacement. This, unfortunately, is a highly unprofessional behavior that is unlikely to change.
4. No Breakdown
The estimate your contractor gives you for the job cannot be one all-encompassing number! This leaves your contractor with too much wiggle-room to be dishonest about extra costs later on in the project. The way a professional contractor presents an estimate to avoid future confusion is in the form of a budget breakdown. Everything you're going to be paying for should be detailed and individually priced so that you are going into the project with eyes wide open. Having a floor installed is not a cheap project, so you deserve to know what your paying for.
5. Doesn't Accept Card or Checks
We have heard too many stories about unscrupulous contractors taking advantage of their clients by refusing to accept any form of payment other than cash and then running off with said cash before they've finished installing the floor. Don't let this be you! If your contractor can't/won't accept plastic, use a check so you have a paper trail of the transaction.