Skip to main content

4 Warning Signs of a Bad Vendor

I deal with homeowners who have made poor choices in hiring for years - in fact, many episodes of my show have been about rescuing homeowners who have been on the receiving end of some bad work from someone who seemed good on paper.

It can be tough, especially for the inexperienced, to feel comfortable making a hire for a major project. Always do your research, and interview as many vendors as possible before you sign on the dotted line. Here are four red flags that you should keep a look out for. These are the things that I wouldn’t want to hear from any vendor, and would make me scratch them from my list and move on to the next one.


1. They Deal in Cold, Hard Cash

I know what you’re thinking - if you can pay in cash and save a few bucks, why wouldn’t you? Well, by paying cash, you’re eliminating any proof that you’ve paid for the work. That puts you in a vulnerable position, and you’re going to want to have a paper trail of any transactions you make, so you can reference it later if needed.


2. They Ask For Payment Upfront

While payment will vary depending on the job you need performed, vendors shouldn’t ask for a large portion of their payment upfront. If they require too much to pay for materials or products, it may signify that their business isn’t going very well and they aren’t getting much work.

A deposit should only serve one purpose - to prove that you’re serious about the work and intend to pay for the job. It’s not a payment method, but a security blanket to protect the good guys out there - and I want to see the good guys be successful.


3. They Don't Provide Testimonials

You want to make sure you’re not choosing a vendor who isn’t experienced enough to handle the job, or someone who is trying to rebrand after some shoddy work in the past. If they don’t have references, or aren’t willing to provide some past happy clients, that’s a big red flag.

However, this doesn’t mean the new guy in town won’t do a good job - you just need to make sure you properly vet any potential vendor before you sign on the dotted line.


4. They Think You Don’t Need a Contract

The days of the handshake deal is long gone. You want a contract that shows you a fully detailed picture of the scope of the project. By detailed picture I mean a detailed estimate, the start and end times of the job, what happens if there’s a change order, the timing of materials delivery, and a clear payment schedule that’s tied to milestones of the project. And don’t forget to look for warranty information - if something doesn’t go right, you want to see how you’re covered, and for what.


Finally, if you’ve done your due diligence, and something still doesn’t feel right to you, move on to the next vendor on your list. Go with your gut feeling - don’t rush into anything that you’re not comfortable with. Good luck on your next hire.

About the Author

Mike Holmes, professional contractor and TV host, is working with Associa to refine the standards and protocols that today’s Homeowner’s Associations use to Make It Right™ for their homeowners. He brings more than 35 years of experience in renovations, construction, and inspection services, and is best known as the contractor and host of “Holmes on Homes” and “Holmes Makes It Right” where he rescues homeowners from repair and renovation disasters.