Money Talks: Tricks of the Trade Contractors

When you hire help, you want the best. That's why people hire contractors. They're licensed, which means they've got some level of knowledge.

But contracting is like any other profession - there are tricks of the trade and there might be ones that cost you money and make them money.

For example, are they even contractors? It's a common trick to say they're licensed when they're not. How do you know? You go online or call your state's licensing division and check.

Another common trick? They'll show you pics of fancy work they said they completed. But maybe they just downloaded pictures of other people's work. Solution? Get references, then actually go see that past work.

Then there's what's known as the spiking the contract. That's paying big bucks up front, supposedly for materials. You don't want to be pre-paying. As a matter of fact, don't even make your last payment the day the job's complete. Wait a week or so. Make sure you like it. Then make the last payment.

Trick number 4? Underbidding. If you get a bid that's low relative to others, beware. You're probably in for some upside surprises mid-project.

Finally, there's taking too long. Someone who's taking on too many jobs could take forever to finish yours. Include a penalty for finishing late.

Bottom line? Every trade has its tricks, and construction is no exception. So before you build that project, build your knowledge. Want more advice and tricks of the trade? Just go to and do a search for Tricks of the Trade.

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