Buyer beware. Here is a story that should turn your stomach as much as it did mine.
As my regular readers know, we have been in negotiations on a house that needs some work. (Update: Probably not going to go through, but we are okay with that).
During some inspections we found that the house has a drainage problem to the tune of, according to the two estimates we received from licensed contractors, $13,000-$17,000 dollars.
The seller’s agent went out and got an estimate done by a company. The result? $5,500!
Sound too good to be true? We thought so. Apparently no one else cared, though. The guy told her he was licensed. In fact, he gave her a license number.
My husband and I, dubious about the skill this company could possess when coming in with a bid that was almost three times lower than our lowest bid, decided to do some research. The same research we had done on the companies that we got to give us estimates.
I contacted our county and the city in which the contractor works: No company exists by that name.
I contacted the state with the license number that he eventually gave to me. That license number belonged to someone else, and it had expired quite some time ago.
Wow! Now, this contractor has an ad in the phone book, so you would think he’d take the time and invest the money to get a license! But no, he hasn’t.
If you are hiring a professional, don’t just ask if they have a license: Get the number and check it out!
Some warning signs we found with this guy:
Of course, the incredibly low price. If someone is offering to do some work for you at a cost that is exceedingly lower than what everyone else is stating, get out. Run away. Take the next bus out of town-or send the person on it!
No address or specialized heading on the proposal. This guy just had written in his company’s name and phone number.
Phone number goes to a personal cell phone. Yes, he answered it this way and his personal message was for that of a personal phone, not a business phone!
Nothing itemized. The other bids wrote out itemized costs for each task. He didn’t.
Nothing specific. The other bids included specific materials and tools that would be used. His didn’t.
No references. When asked he said he had them, but that he didn’t have time to get them together. He never did call back with the phone numbers.
Can’t be specific when asked direct questions. I asked if he had done a complete drainage system before and he answered, “Oh, I’ve done a lot of things, yes. ”
And the thing that tipped us off at first: We couldn’t find anything out about him when we typed in that company name, but when we googled his phone number we got back several hits for another company’s name! Yes, he is doing this with two company’s! I guess it depends on the type of job he is hoping to find.