3 questions your contractor shouldn't ask

Angie Hicks, founder of Angie's List

Angie Hicks, founder of Angie's List

It's not uncommon for service companies to screen potential customers, especially on larger jobs. Like any professional, a contractor's time is valuable and he or she should be confident their client will actually pay once the project is complete. Unfortunately, sometimes a reasonable request for information gets lost in translation and potential clients get scared off by what they think are invasive, personal or rude questions.

Recently, one of our help desk representatives shared a story about a call we received from an elderly member who lived alone. The member was terrified because she'd called a contractor to do some work and he had asked if she was widowed, if she'd be alone when he arrived, and if she had any savings. Instead of hiring the contractor, the frightened woman was ready to call the police!

The contractor likely was only trying to determine if the prospective client would make the hiring decision or if others needed to be present when he made his pitch, and if she seemed like a good risk for paying his bill — both legitimate concerns. However, he literally scared off her business by how he framed his questions.

We've spent 15 years advising homeowners to investigate their potential contractors' reputations in the community before making hiring decisions. Good contractors deserve similar information about their potential clients. They'll have an easier time getting it — and winning customers — with clear communication.

Homeowners, though, should always walk away from anyone asking questions so poorly that they came across as scary. Here's a sampling of questions contractors should never ask, why they shouldn't, and what they should ask instead.

Will you be alone when I arrive?

WHY THEY SHOULDN'T: Asking a potential client if he or she will be alone when a contractor arrives may make the homeowner think the contractor has criminal intent. Also inappropriate are these companion questions: Are you married? Do you live alone? Are you widowed?

WHAT THEY SHOULD ASK INSTEAD: Will anyone else be involved with decisions about the project and payment? I want to be sure not to waste your time, so it would be best if everyone is available at the same time.

What's your credit score?

WHY THEY SHOULDN'T: Asking about a potential client's credit score can easily cause offense, as can questions like: Do you have a job? Have you ever filed for bankruptcy? How much money is in your bank account?

WHAT THEY SHOULD ASK INSTEAD: How would you like to handle payment? If necessary, a contractor can check your credit history through normal channels.

Can I see your other bids before I give you mine?

WHY THEY SHOULDN'T: Asking about other bids is sort of like asking if you can cheat off your neighbor during a fourth-grade spelling test. It should make the potential customer wonder if the contractor is offering the best bid he or she can.

WHAT THEY SHOULD ASK INSTEAD: I hope you'll give me a chance to talk this over after you review all of your bids. I think it's a fair bid; it reflects the cost of the job as well as the value of my qualifications and training.

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Questions your contractor should never ask

Would it make you uncomfortable if a contractor asked you, "Will you be alone when I get there?" There is nothing wrong with a company screening a potential client, but some questions, like this one, should never be asked. Learn more as Angie discusses questions that usually raise red flags.


My Grandfather came to this country around the turn of the 20th century. He came from Norway & knew very little English. He started out as a carpenter, then began contracting his own buildings. His son, who was born here, went pretty much the same route. Grandpa's not being able to grasp the nuances of the English language would never have been able to understand why it's ok to ask a question one way, but not another. My Uncle had very little education & wasn't the smartest hammer in the kit, but boy! Could he build buildings meant to last for a few hundred years. I'm sure he would not have been able to understand these nuances either. My suggestion to a potential customer would be to ask why the contractor is asking the questions he is asking. And older people really need to have a trusted younger person with them so that they can understand why the contractor is asking the questions he/she is asking.

I think this whole bid thing is bad advice. Start telling people you got 3 bids and all the good contractors will drop out. There is always someone that will say they can do it for less. Hire based on local references.

I have been a contractor for 25 years and stand behind every single project. If a potential client tells me that they are getting multiple bids, I ask "do you have a budget in mind" or I will ask them very specific questions to find out if they are playing the bidders war game against my local competitors and myself. I am a very honest person and the guys that work for me are as well. I refuse to work for people I think are only out for the lowest price. Means that they may care about their money but not necessarily about the home or the project they are asking to get done. Money is not everything in this world and over time in this business I have found that, I would rather just do such a good job that I am recommended to their friends and family etc. Comparison shopping is important but as a consumer myself sometimes, I truly look for the person that is going to work with me and my needs the best or at least I hope they are my best option. I say good luck to any consumer out there looking for a good contractor. There are a lot of guys/gals that say they know what they are doing but truly they have no clue. So my advice to the general public when it comes to contracting people to do projects for themselves is to educate yourself on the type of work you want done first. Have a clear picture in your mind of what you want done. If you do not have the time to do this then you are responsible for the decisions you make and should only kick yourself in the you know what when the project goes downhill.

What wrong with wanting to see what the competition is charging? Some are so hard up they charge 25% of what should be charged. Most clients that are not A-list members are solely interested in price and don't get the opp to read the hundreds of reports some companies have. I personally don't do written estimates, as potential clients just use it as ammo ..... they end up showing everyone what the other companies wrote the job up for so everyone will keep cutting their price ..... I don't play the game. I know my work is far better than any of my competition and my price reflects it. I personally just recieved my 1000th review and have a 96% A satisfaction rate, and I don't have that many relatives and friends.

I can tell from reading the comments, who is and isn't a real contractor. First and foremost, asking to see a bid only occurs for one reason: a customer claims you are way out of whack. I have asked to see a bid just recently when a customer claimed I was not just "high" but obscenely high. I asked to see the bid and they provided it. As it would turn out, the customer had used my bid (the first bidder) as the scope of work for the other two bidders and there was an intentional typo on mine for this very reason. Even though the patio was to be 20x20', I put "200 sq. ft. patio". The other bidders bid as such and I bid a 400 sq. ft. patio- hence the difference in price. The customer was so embarrassed by the revelation that she offered us the job on the spot- we refused. Dealing with a customer without ethics is as bad as dealing with a contractor without them. As for the other two questions: never ask about being alone; that's absurd. If you are extending them credit, pull a credit report, otherwise it's completely unnecessary; get a small stipend up front to ensure they are serious and are willing to pay.

I think after a contractor has lost a bid and it has been awarded to someone else it is a nice courtesy to let him see why he lost. Otherwise he will have to continue bidding on jobs, lowering his price $1 at a time until he finds out what the market will bear. It is unfair to him and his employees who are trying to feed their families to keep this information secret after the bidding is over. Didn't he work hard, for free, to put together a bid for you? Unless you are so committed to the race to the bottom that you won't be happy until working people are living in abject poverty you won't participate in pulling people's strings like that.

Re: "Will anyone else be involved with decisions about the project and payment? I want to be sure not to waste your time, so it would be best if everyone is available at the same time." Would anyone ever ask this of a man? I'd be unlikely to hire a contractor who questioned my capacity to make decisions without my husband or some other man present.

More often than not, if only one of the two homeowners is home, either the husband or wife will disagree with something on the bid. I (and most contractors) would rather all parties involved be present. Too often I've had signed contracts and deposits in hand and materials ordered only to have the absent party call to change something they didn't like thay was already agreed upon by whomever was at the appointment. It's not about someone's capacity to make decisions. It's about me wasting my time and resources only to have to change items on the contract and ultimately charging the customer whatever fees I am penalized for because all decision making parties were not present at point of sale.

Too often I have heard this line from companies that are pretending to give a quote when they are really making a sales call. They arrive and give an estimate but then pile on the pressure to close that day with discount offers etc, all the while being significantly higher priced than more straightforward competitors. Angies List shouldn't be encouraging this practice! The excuse that all parties need to be present to avoid misunderstandings when giving an estimate is bogus. An honest contractor gives a detailed run down of the services they will provide and it's then clear to everyone that an alteration will result in a different price.

Wow. Some people are really out of touch. Ask any construction lawyer and they will agree. Many disputes that have gone to court have been for this sole reason. Have all interested parties present for every single decision. Period. Any intelligent contractor will walk away otherwise.

The reason you want all parties present is so you can make a one-call close. It is because you know your sales ratio goes down significantly the minute you walk out the door without a signed contract. An intelligent buyer will never make a decision on the spot. It is what the contractor does after they walk out the prospect's door that separates them from the competition. A legit contractor or sales person is confident enough in the quality of their company to encourage the prospect to perform their due diligence before making a decision. Make sure you understand the prospect's buying criteria. Ask them to rank the importance of price in their decision and help them build an ROI for why it makes sense to choose your company over the low bidder. If price is most important, a reputable company has enough other opportunities to walk away and take a different job that is a better fit. This has NOTHING to do with the potential for a lawsuit. Source: I have a Masters in Construction Management and 30 years of sales experience.

Don't hire a contractor who asks, "How much were you planning to spend?" Guarantee the bid will come in just under, or over, your budget.

For homeowners: Get a total of 5 bids and throw way the 2 low balls, leaving you with the top 3 bids. All things being equal most experienced contractors will come in very near the same prices. Don't ask your contractor if he will match the lowest bid you received. Why? Because in most cases it will be a bid from a know-nothing. Why in the world would you use a fool's bid as your guide? For contractors: Have a system that includes every square inch of the work you are doing. Do your best to use competitive prices and good mathematics when presenting your proposals. Stay away from homeowners that get a nincompoop contractor to give them "pipe dream bid" and then ask you if you will match it. Why in the world would you ever let somebody else set your prices. For both of you: It is best to let go of a million dollars' worth of work - at the wrong price - than to accept the job and bring utter misery to both parties, the homeowner and the contractor.

I manage an apartment community, and one of the ways we streamline capital projects is to write the scope ourselves and provide it to all the contractors that are bidding. That way, we know that the bids are apples to apples. I also distrust any bid that rolls everything together: I want to see breakouts of materials and labor, so that I know where the differences are and whether it's something I'm willing to may more for.

I owned and operated an electrical contracting company In California from 1995- 2005. Beware of Owner Builder that acts as thier own Project manager/ General Contractor. I used to give detailed estimates breaking down materials and labor until I did not get a job and found out that the owner was using my detailed estimate as a blueprint to have his handy man do the job for about 60 to 70 % cheaper than I could do it. The fact that I was Licensed, Insured, Bonded, had a real office and real overhead. business license, workmans comp, liability, advertising, etc.. Not to mention over twenty years experience in the trade. I consider this a blatent rip off that there is no law prohibiting. Ever since I realized this I refuse to give anything other than a Labor Materials Bid until a contract is signed which spells out every single detail of the project.. If the customer objects to this, all you need to do is point out that by law the customer has three days to back out of the contract legally. Another thing to watch out for is a customer who does not want to make progress payments equal to work completed, and wants to pay in the end. They are probably trying to scam you also

The main contractor may sneak in sub-contractors who will do shoddy work, then you are stuck with the end results as the main contractor will back out of liability !! Get a lawyer to draft a contract that spells out if a sub-contractor does work that the main contractor is liable for faults.

I would be curious after the fact about other bids, because I'd like to know how to improve my own. But I don't need to see other bids before I make my own. I don't need to see other bids in order to figure out how much it will cost me to do a job or how much I should charge. But seeing other bids might show if there was something I forgot or, if there are sufficient details in the other bids, that I am overpaying for something and should look for a new supplier. I want to learn from failure, not rig a bid.

Amazed no one mentions specs in this thread. The way I look at at a bathroom of "x" square feet can be updated anywhere from $6,000 to $20,000 (generally speaking.) It all depends on the type of plumbing, electrical, lighting, flooring, shower, fixtures, windows, wall treatments the home owner wants - basically everything. When homeowners get bids, unless they can present the builder with a detailed spec sheet of what he/she wants or be willing to spend a little on an interior designer (NOT an interior decorator) the bid will include the cost of wildly varied materials. Plumbing pipe can be copper, but it can also be PVC, a homeowner might be happy with a $60 light fixture or a can or two in the ceiling, or they may opt for extra sconces, an ornate lavatory light, cans in the ceiling AND shower, a towel warmer etc - the list is endless (just to reiterate my point.) A homeowner may not have the experience or the acumen to realize what's going on in a bid, so it's not such a terrible idea to share bids - if anything it can spark a discussion of what the finished product will include - the spec list, a part of the contract that's just as important in the long run as the actual price. It can also weed out those contractors that are inexperienced, and those that are not bonded and insured. In the end the cost of a remodel may be what the market can bear or actual cost of labor and materials plus a percentage. Both are fine, as long as the homeowner and the contractor agree. It also helps to remember greed is a human emotion, not a contractor disease, and from my experience I've seen both greedy homeowners and greedy contractors. Personally I'm not very interested in other contractors' bids, but I don't mind if the homeowner decides to share. I may point out the extras I'm including in my cost, or the extras the other are including in theirs. Overall people are great when presented with fairness and a transparent process,and bid sharing is a very tiny part of it.

I recently installed a backup generator. The first bid for the electrical connection quoted $8000 for the work and was annoyed when I asked how many weeks he intended to take. He added that it was so expensive because he needed to install a concrete pad and I had dual zone air conditioning! I pointed out that there was no need for a concrete pad, and I had the specifications for the generator to prove it, and that he could see in front of his eyes that I had a single zone heat pump. In the end I found a contractor for $3000. I remarked to my wife that I must have "rich and stupid" tattooed on my forehead. As for paying for the materials, I normally prefer to pay for the materials myself, in that way I can assure that top quality materials are used. If you leave it to the contractor he has an incentive to always use the cheapest materials because it directly impacts his bottom line.

In the past year I spent about $100,000.00 on home remodeling. I had: A) Bathroom remodel-complete gut to the studs and all new everything, plumbing, electrical etc B) Kitchen remodel-complete gut to the studs, new appliances, new electrical, new cabinets, countertop, floor etc C) New carpet through out the entire house D) New exterior siding over the entire house, demolition of the old back deck and new expanded deck using pressure treated lumber E) new entry doors, windows I researched each and every contractor I asked to bid on a specific job. I used the BBB, looked at how long in business, what they presented to do to accomplish my goals. I was upfront and told each one that price was a concern, but quality of the finished product was the most important. I am very happy to report that each contractor performed expertly. I am very pleased with the results. One contractor asked for 50% down, this was a red flag. The contractors who did the work either took 10% down, and pay as we go, or the exterior company, took 10% down and the balance on completion (if I was satisfied). I put down $3600 on a $36,000.00 job and paid the balance once my punch list was satisfied. Do you homework before and you won't be sorry on the back end.

I have been on both sides of industrial sized projects and I told several secretaries the secret to a quality, but reasonably priced project is to write down your finished expectations, separate materials cost from labor and always get 3 bids. You advise the contractor that you are going to with the bid that is closest to but less than the average of the high and low bid, Sixteen times this has been done and no unhappy customers.

The only time I've shared a bid in the past was when I knew I'd alreday ruled out that particular contractor. I got 3 bids on a house project, & 1 contractor asked why he hadn't gotten the job & I told him he was more than 30% higher than the other 2. He asked to re-bid saying he could match it, but I don't go down that road & told him I'd already awarded the job. He actually asked me who had gotten the contract, but no way was I going to tell him that !!

When you're letting a stranger in to work on your home, be sure they don't ask suspicious questions. Know what to look out for with these hints from Angie's List.

I sure wish that I'd known about Angies List 4 years ago. I went to an auto restorer called M&M innovations and was totally scammed. It's a shame that after discussing a deal, it can't be sealed with a handshake. I guess I'm living in the old days where a handshake meant something!

I've been in business for 25 yrs. and its not just contractors who are scam artists, untrustworthy, or unreasonable. I've been stiffed by clients but only a few times. I ask for a non refundable deposit to avoid this. The deposit is taken off the final bill and anyone who is sincers about not ripping me off will understand this. There are con artists on BOTH sides of the fence. I also ask about others estimates because I try my best to work within client's budgets. Mine is a cleaning service so there arent really any materials for them to pay for, mainly labor. I never try to be the lowest bidder. My price is my price and if its too high for the clients wallet I do my best to make it fit by custom tayloring a service plan. However, there ARE some people who you just can't make happy. I avoid them at all costs, let the rookie have them.

I would love to have anyone of those contractors that i see on the HGTV shows or DIY. I doubt that they exist...they are in front of a camera so they have to behave.

I,as a Contractor,ALWAYS ask for a down payment before starting any work. Ive been 'shafted' before by Customers,who,after I start my work,decide they can do the job themselves....then Ive lost 3-5 days work for nothing? A deposit keeps everyone ' on the level'.

I don't want to know nor do i care about the competitions pricing. I sell my company and the quality products and services we provide. If the projected is complicated or has many phases, I will ask for a copy of other proposals with the name of the contractor and the price blacked out. I don't bid, I sell.

As a contractor, I am of course concerned how payments will be made, but of course, that's what a "Contract" is for. It's hit and miss, and often I end up going with my gut. The best thing to do, I've found, is to clarify my rates up front, make sure I communicate effectively with both homeowners (husband & wife, partner etc) and then include what I will and will not be providing in my proposal. I'm not particularly concerned if someone is married, widowed or divorced either. My primary goal is to find out what the customer/potential customer wants, present what I can do in the best light I can, then generate a proposal that reflects all these elements. Trust me, customers are not shy about telling me what they want to spend...

Comments should be in order by date if at all possible going forward. Follow up to my new roof from hail storm situation. Thanks Khess, I shared the claims adjuster report with the contractor who claimed he "needed it in advance". He came in over $500 in price than the claims adjuster report. (I had told him in our first conversation I had a $500 deductible). He had clearly copied by line item the exact information from the report and changed around a few prices to be inconspicuous. When I told him he was not hired and why, he said “I’m the one that got your new roof approved” (which was not true, I’d talked to my insurance company and the adjuster had been out there before I got any estimates. I’m so glad I didn’t choose him. I received the insurance check and hired the other guy willing to do his own estimate, not the one who clearly copied the insurance claims adjuster report. I did share the claims adjuster report with the hired guy after I received his estimate and I have a little left over to get some other work done by him.

But what do you think of the contractors who give you one estimate then comes back later and say well that estimator is no longer with the company and he gave you the wrong estimate, this is now the price you will be charged, I smell a bad contractor.

I've had a wide range of contractor experiences, including workmen would wouldn't listen to me, the wife. I finally told one workman that if he didn't do what I asked (all in scope of work), instead of going to my husband, he could pack his tools and leave. He said he wouldn't take direction from me, went to my husband and SURPRISE!! Got told to pack his tools and leave. If a workman can't work with me, we dont' hire them.

Thanks very much for this. It always bugs me when contractors ask if I'm married -- that's none of their business! I always compliment a contractor who instead asks if there are any other homeowners involved in the decision. I can't wait until more contractors catch on! It doesn't just make me feel safer, it's more polite!

always a goood idea to explain your intentions and to educate both parties. Comfort is power. I find I can never cover all the bases to win a bid. Most folks will win a bid and it wont be because of price. Its good business to make you potential client feel good about both parties intent. And yes some potential clients are not worthy of good service. Do whats right and explain you will be off the hook.

We recently had new patio doors installed. One vendor insisted that both husband and wife be present for the salesman's visit, which was an initial turn-off. But we went along with their request and the salesman subsequently explained that they had run into issues in the past when one spouse made all the arrangements and signed the contract, but left the other spouse in the dark about key details, cost, etc.. This caused issues for the company when they showed up to install the doors or windows, or after installation when payment was due. For those who feel insulted by this request, realize that contractors need to protect themselves from customers at times, just as customers need to protect themselves from contractors sometimes. (BTW, we used this contractor and have been happy with our decision.)

We had a HORRIBLE experience 2 years ago. Needed a new roof & minor work done due to ice storm damage. Instead of doing our research & full due diligence, we took 2 bids and went with the guy who offered us the "deal" if we signed with him that day. Two months later, the work was done (thank Jeebus we were at home daily), a sub-contractor threatened to take a lien out on our house, the "contractor" was in jail and there's no way in he## that we'll ever get any kind of "warranty" on our home if anything goes wrong. We were inexperienced and just plain STOOPID. If it weren't for having some insurance money to help cover costs, we would've had a very expensive, rather than embarrasing, lesson. By the way, Angie's List is fairly new in our area, so we weren't able to get any valuable information from here.

As a kitchen and bath designer/contractor I always asked about budget ranges, pictures of what the client wanted, who were the decision makers and how payment would be made (deposit and percentage of completion incremental payments were part of my terms). When there is open and frank conversation about these matters the project progresses on schedule. I also found it was important to clarify who would be giving day-to-day instruction. Nothing's worse than one spouse directing something and the other countermanding. Then, who pays the cost of correction? We're in business. Most of us intend to do everything we can to deliver a professional product to a satisfied customer. It's all about clear communication and honesty.

At the settlement of our first home, my husband was called out of the room and unbeknownst to me, was instructed by our agent to work out a deal with the sellers to split the cost of a new roof. I had no knowledge of this until everything was signed. My husband didn't know that we were entitled to a new roof and that this was really against the law. I was livid. For my first foray into home improvement I went to the tile store with the amount of tiles I wanted to install to a small section around our fireplace. I felt that I had measured correctly and had a list of other items needed. The salesperson told me I had done it all wrong and punched up several numbers on his calculator and gave me the "correct" amount of tiles needed. My first choice of tiles would have made this unaffordable, so I went with a cheaper tile that was just O.K. When I was done I had leftover tile, grout, etc. The job was actually completed with the exact amount of tile I had originally measured for. This was it for me. I was done. So when my husband asked me to contact a pool company for an estimate, the first question the salesman asked was " Will your husband be home." I told him that I would be making the decision and writing him the check. He told me he would only come out if my husband was there. We never did get the pool. This is not an isolated incident as you can see by these posts, and it is still going on. I have had wonderful rapport with several professionals at my home but have had some workers who were downright rude and patronizing. I chose one plumber over another because the first one did not want to follow the specs and move the pipes in a bathroom remodel, so I chose someone else. The first plumber then contacted the township and said that my plumber was not licensed (which he was), thus holding up my job. This isn't even half of the problems I've had do deal with because my husband was not home at the time, and I have many friends who have experienced this. I will stick only with past contractors and independent workers who have been honest and respectful of my input. In fact we usually only hire workers who have been recommended by contractors we already know or have been recommended by friends or Angies List. I also recently had an experience with a chimney repair. The first estimate (from a franchise)said "chimney repair $1,900. The second had everything listed, itemized by stages to be done, the products and sizes of the products to be used, start and finish date and warranties. The first looked up at the chimney top and gave me his estimate. The second man went on the roof and took pictures of the damage, showed them to me, and then made his estimate. Both were for exactly the same price. The second company did a great job. I check out everyone I hire (several different ways) before I even call them and I will share bid information after I have received them all, if warranted. I don't feel that it's necessary to show them right away. I also do not give out any financial information. When they give me their estimate I tell them if I can't afford it, and that pretty much ends that conversation. I then decide if we can afford part of the estimate, like having a tree trimmed back instead of removing, or having some of the work done now and some at a later date. We've never been asked "how" we're going to pay, The estimate states the amounts and dates, and we sign it, knowing when the money is due. We never get to ask them to see their bank statements or ask if they have paid their employees on time. Both spouses being home does not guarantee that all information will be remembered. Everybody has questions after the meeting is over. Some contractors, unfortunately, dont get that while the husband tells you the project is a "go", they still have to pry the checkbook out of their wifes hands to get the work started. All kidding aside, A fair price from an honest contractor is all everyone is looking for.

I agree with CJS -- something I would like to see discussed on Angie's List . . . giving the keys to your "castle" to virtual strangers --

Very good discussion here. When we had reroofing done,we got 4 or 5 estimates/ The lowest came from a company wth a fine reputation installing the kind of roof we wanted. Another bidder asked if he could see that bid because he didn't know how the job could be done for that price. He admitted I had a good deal but his partner piped up that you should always throw out the lowest and highest bids and take one in the middle! Theirs of course. What a jerk! I was supposed to turn down the low bid by an excellent contractor because of some dumb RULE about choosing the middle price? I also agree that "What is your budget?" and "How much do you want to spend?" are annoying questions. I walked out on a kitchen remodeling outfit when the saleswoman kept answering my inquires about what these cabinets or this countertop material cost with, "What is your BUDGET?" The only proper answer to my questions were dollar figures or per sf figures, but figures.

I've never known anyone to ask questions like that. I do know we'll ask if both spouses will be home- because the one won't remember everything to ask or what was told- better to go to a call with both present. Don't need to ask to see other bids- customers will show them w/o asking, can you beat this?. We'll ask how you'll be paying- the work is COD unless you ask for other arrangements beforehand, we're not a bank or credit card co.

Had a fellow replace a window. Price was fair. When he was done asked for a recipt. "Oh No" he said. I'm doing this off the books. I will use him no more! TK

If the contractor wants all of the decision makers available, one way to do that if distance is an issue is to ask them if they use Skype. My wife and I bought a tankless water heater because a contractor was willing to try something new and use skype to talk to me in Afghanistan after talking to my wife. I was the one who did the research and had the questions. My wife was the one on the property who would be putting up with the workers - we both had an active interest in the project.

Sounds like one very offensive window company that hit every single thing, and then had the audacity to repeatedly call back with special offers, rebates and other forms of pressure. I gave them an F on Angies List and discovered other members had the same awful experience.

I am a contractor and I do ask to see other competitors bids after I have presented my own. Most customers will offer the bids from the other contractors once I have indicated that I don't need to see the name of the contractor or the final price of their estimate. I inform them that what I really want to know is that we are bidding spec for spec. (apples to apples so to speak). I recently bid a project, with a very detailed estimate for 56k. I lost it to a company that bid the job for 36k. Was it the same project? Not hardly. The customer regrets now not hiring me or showing me the other contractors estimate so I could point out the differences. Just because someone "says" they are going to do a job a certain way doesn't mean didly until you see it in writing.

I run from any contractor who, prior to bidding, asks if I will be paying cash.

hmm, i guess i should stop asking the cute ladies if they are single...

Outstanding info on communication. So essential to ask directly for what you need to know. Beating around the bush only makes a client think you don't know what you're doing.

Why aren't these comments in order by date? Makes it hard to read. Anyway, I've had a hard time choosing an electrician to work on my home. I got 4 bids and they were as much as $450 in difference from the highest to the lowest. There are certainly other factors that came into play when I had to make a choice. And HE will be doing the work this Friday. It is certainly not about the lowest bid for me. I've spent almost $30,000 on remodeling since Sept 2010, and I -know- how to choose a contractor.

Some yrs back I contacted a Window Replacement company in Roanoke Va about replacing my windows with the new insulated double pane windows. The very first phone contact they said... How much were you wanting to spend? I said, well I have X numbers of windows, etc... how much is it? They said they couldn't give me a price over the phone. So I said..that's why I contacted you for an estimate. They finally agreed to come, then when they gave me the price... I said... Yes...I want this done. They replied HOW do I know you have the money to pay me? Then they said...How much do you have.... How do I know you will pay me.... blah...blah... I finally told them COME BY IN ABOUT 2 MONTHS AND SEE WHAT MY NEW WINDOWS LOOK LIKE, THAT SOME OTHER COMPANY IS GOING TO PUT IN.... THEN....I WILL LET YOU KNOW WHO DID IT AND YOU CAN CONTACT THEM TO SEE IF I PAID


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Angie’s List is the trusted site where more than 3 million households go to get ratings and reviews on everything from home repair to health care. Stop guessing when it comes to hiring! Check Angie’s List to find out who does the best work in town.

Local Discounts

Daily deals up to 70% off popular home improvement projects from top-rated contractors on Angie’s List!