8 Signs of a Bad Basement Finishing Company
Why You Should Hire a Pro to Finish a Basement
Too often, you don’t know you’ve hired the wrong company for a job until it’s too late: the moving company delivers a van full of broken dishes, your haircut looks nothing like the Pinterest pic, or your wedding photos come back blurry. What’s even more frustrating is to have invested a considerable amount of money only to be disappointed. When it comes to basement finishing, it’s important to understand the benefits of hiring a professional basement remodeling contractor so as to avoid disappointment and grievance at the project’s end.
For starters, a basement remodel is a complex job requiring specific resources, skills, and experience. Project details like HVAC lines, windows and egress access, basement floor structure, municipal building codes, and even the architectural layout of your home are best left in the hands of a reputable basement finishing company. Perhaps most importantly, since a basement remodel project requires a cash outlay on your part, investing in a trusted pro with a track record of positive reviews and project outcomes goes a long way in ensuring a successful end result.
When compiling an initial list of basement-finish subcontractor options, beware of these eight warning signs and steer clear of any companies that don’t measure up:
1. Lack of Proper Licensing
Work licenses are an absolute must for any reputable basement remodeler. Aside from the legal requirements of licensure, being licensed lets a basement contractor’s potential customers know that they are experienced in dealing with problems that may arise. Licenses must also be renewed at regular intervals, which typically requires the contractor to pass tests and stay abreast of current building code requirements. which vary from municipality to municipality.
2. Lack of Legitimate and Adequate Insurance / Bonding
Does the remodeler in question have liability insurance, adequate bonding, or carry worker’s compensation? If not, cross them off of your list. If they damage your property, your neighbor’s property, or if one of their workers gets injured in your basement, you could be held liable. Protect yourself by asking the contractor to provide proof of insurance and bonding.
3. Willingness to Work without Permits
Depending on where you live, building permits are most likely required when finishing a basement—especially if gas lines and/or plumbing (bathroom or wet bar) are involved. A contractor who offers to do work without a permit may do so under the guise of saving you time or money, while in fact cutting corners on job quality. Permitted jobs must pass municipal inspections at various stages throughout the project to ensure that work is being done to the standards of current building and safety codes. Doing work on the scale of a basement finish without a permit also causes problems when you sell your home, as there is nothing to prove that the work was done according to code. You may face hefty fines, or be required to redo some of the work to prove it was done correctly.
4. Charges: too High, or too Low
When seeking bids, pay close attention to the average cost and highlight any estimates that seem excessively high or low. A much less-expensive bid could indicate shoddy workmanship by someone who takes a lot of shortcuts and then hits you with hidden costs when least expected. If, on the other hand, an estimate exceeds all others by a large amount, you could end up paying more for the same services you could have received from another comparable contractor at a lower cost. Additionally, as you review bids, make sure that you’re comparing apples-to-apples. Are the fixtures and finishes quoted in each of the same quality? Are the number of items, such as can lights and low-volt ports, the same? Read and compare each bid carefully.
5. Disproportionate Negative Reviews
One or two bad customer reviews aren’t a red flag for even the best basement remodeling contractors. However, if the remodeler’s social media pages, Yelp, and Google links are filled with negative reviews, take note and stay away.
For peace of mind, try contacting any unhappy customers to learn more about their experience and why they posted what they did. You can also ask the remodeler for an explanation. A failure to check contractor reviews could result in you being the next customer who posts a negative one.
6. Wide-Open Schedule
The best basement finishing contractors are typically booked out for six weeks or more. Any contractor that tells you they can start tomorrow probably doesn’t have many customers. Admittedly, a lack of business could be seasonal or a factor of being a new basement finishing company. Ask the contractor direct questions to discern which it is, as a contractor with little-to-no customers could be a reflection of poor quality work.
Patience is a must when choosing an experienced pro with a project backlog. In most cases, the top-quality, Instagram-worthy results will be well worth the wait!
7. Poor Communication
Open and honest communication is the key to any relationship, including the one between you and your basement contractor. As you begin talking with various basement contractors, ask about their communication process–who would be your main point of contact? Would communication be accomplished mostly through email, phone, text, or a project management software program? If they don’t communication well with you during the bid process, it’s not likely to get any better once the project begins.
Do you feel like your personality and communication style is a good fit with the company rep to whom you’ve been speaking? For instance, if you aren’t very handy, an experienced pro should patiently provide insight on how your dream basement will come together based on your goals, along with advice when something is unlikely to work. Any reputable contractor will respect your opinions but be confident enough to address potential problems by clearly and courteously offering viable solutions.
8. Large Deposit Requirement
Basement contractors typically require some form of down payment to buy materials and hire sub-contractors. However, any company that asks for a significant amount (50% or more) of the total project estimate may do shoddy work or plan to stockpile money in the event of future complaints. Be extremely wary of a large up-front deposit requirement.
Although finding the best basement finishing company for your project can be challenging, it is possible to do so by taking time to research a variety of contractors and weed out ones with apparent red flags. Sheffield Homes Finished Basements & More is dedicated to providing you with outstanding basement finish services and quality construction that transcend the mainstream. As a trusted basement remodeling contractor, we have been serving northern Colorado and the Denver metro area since 1978. Call 303-420-0056 to book a no-obligation consultation.