5 Reasons Not to Hire the Cheapest Contractor

Tile Words To Know:

  1. NTCA (National Tile Contractor Association)
  2. CTI (Certified Tile Installer)
  3. CTEF (Ceramic Tile Education Foundation)
  4. Substrate (the surface the tile/adhesive adheres to)

In this article, Hunter, the lead installer and owner of Texas Tile, will outline five reasons not to hire the cheapest contractor. Hunter has been a tile contractor for over ten years and has recently joined the NTCA, and is confirmed to take his CTI Exam through the CTEF in April.

Inadequate Work

Tile is entirely dependent on how well the substrate is prepared and what adhesive gets used. Most contractors are not aware of the proper mortars/thin sets/adhesives.

Diagram of tile installation

This will cause problems with tile bonding, grout cracking, and clacking if the tile is on the floor. The other problem with sloppy work is that a bad contractor can very quickly learn to cover a lack of knowledge in setting standards and practices.

Above is just how talking about how long an installation will last, other problems occurring from incorrect installation can be lippage (uneven tiles), discoloration of tile and grout (especially in natural stones and uncolored grouts), tenting (when tiles pop-up, sometimes violently due to expansion where no expansion joints are left), and accidents resulting from lack of knowledge in dynamic and static coefficients of friction leading to falls or other accidents causing damage to surrounding areas.

No Warranty Or Call Back For Lousy Work

The right contractor will offer a FREE 3–5 year warranty on their work. Those who don’t provide a FREE warranty package often claim that they have never had a “callback.” Watch out for these ones. I don’t deny that no one has ever called them back, but someone has called somebody to re-do their work.

If you have never gotten a callback, you either haven’t been in the industry long enough, or people don’t trust you to do your job after an initial failure. A warranty with work means that they believe in their work and that they are willing to come back (sometimes for a small fee). Not only because they want to do right by the customer but also because they want to know what went wrong and why so it can be prevented in the future.

Along the same lines, someone who doesn’t charge enough, will, not surprisingly, be in business for very long. That being the case, if you go with the cheapest bid, you are assuming that the job will go as expected, and if it doesn’t, that you will have recourse.

But if someone isn’t charging enough, two things are likely to be the case 1. They don’t have insurance and aren’t bonded, making a potential lawsuit personal, not business. 2. Without insurance, you will have to sue for private property. But if they don’t charge enough to support themselves, much less make a profit, what will they have of any value that can be taken as “payment.” All of this is assuming that you can even find them or reach them if something goes wrong. They may purposefully keep their information hidden or may not also be in business anymore due to a lawsuit, lack of income, or many other factors.

Slow And Sporadic Work

A contractor who is not charging enough or doesn’t have enough work will sometimes charge high deposits (50% or higher) to start a job. There is nothing wrong with a small fee/percentage for scheduling, or payment for materials, etc. but contractors who charge high fees will usually start work, but be very slow and uncommitted to your project. This usually means he is out starting other projects and taking deposits from others. And while he is out doing that, he is not working on yours. If your contractor is charging what he should, there is no reason for a high fee because he knows what his expenses are and can cover them until the job is complete.

Doesn’t Invest In Themselves Outside Of The Job

A cheap contractor typically has one of two problems (or both) preventing him from investing in himself/company outside of the job site. This boils down to either not having enough time because he charges too little to cover expenses and can’t take any time off to go to training and networking to further his commitment to the industry. Or not having enough money to attend such events to continue his education and learn the newest techniques, materials, and tools.

You Don’t Know Who You Are Letting Into Your Home.

Here in Texas, where this was written, there are no laws regarding contracting outside of things like electrical and plumbing work. To become a licensed contractor, you must have insurance, be bonded (meaning that you will operate according to local and state laws), and pass examinations to become licensed. Part of this process requires that you pass a background check, and charge enough to cover the insurance and bonding. In doing these things, you can show that you have the knowledge you say you do and that you are who you say you are. This prevents most ill-intending people from becoming licensed BUT DOES NOT PREVENT THEM FROM OPERATING AS A CONTRACTOR.

Cheap contractors put pressure on the people charging fair prices for the work leaving uneducated and sloppy contractors in the market. What is cheaper? Paying someone who knows what he’s doing and what his job is worth and offering a warranty? Or paying the most “affordable” guy (or guys) to repeatedly come and “fix” things that were never done correctly from the start.

WRITTEN BY: T. HUNTER BULLOCK-Hunter has been a tile contractor for over ten years and has recently joined the NTCA. He is always looking for ways to improve his skills and help give back to the Tile industry.

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