Are you ready to remodel your home but aren’t sure where to start or who to trust? If you’re about to undertake a home repair project, you’ll want to keep an eye out for red flags. The more research you do, the more likely you’ll find an honest contractor over one who might try to swindle you. The warning signs listed below are indications that you may need to run the other direction.

Gives you a bid that seems too good to be true. Contractors will try to bid competitively to win your business, but if the estimate they give you seems unrealistically low, it’s likely they’re trying to win your business with lies. Get multiple estimates for work before hiring a contractor, and if a contractor’s price is wildly different from everyone else’s, you’ll want to find out why.

Asks for too much money up front. Many contractors will want a percentage of a job up front to get your project started, but a contractor who wants the majority or the entirety of the job’s cost up front is a contractor you should be wary of. Many states limit the percentage that a contractor can ask for in advance, so make sure you know what the law allows.

Wants payment in cash. Paying by check or credit card gives you a paper trail and means for recourse if something happens to merit a refund or a financial dispute. If you pay in cash, you forfeit any proof that you paid along with any chance to back yourself up on money issues down the line. A good contractor will be able to process checks and credit card payments and shouldn’t pressure you to pay one way or another.

Won't Commit In Clear Writing

Won’t commit in clear writing. If your contractor doesn’t want to write up a contract or sign any paperwork, you don’t want to work with them. The documentation protects you in case of a misunderstanding and guarantees you have a record of exactly what you are paying for. When you sign a contract, read what you’re getting into, and be wary if a contract doesn’t set clear deadlines for when your job should hit milestones and completion.

Is unlicensed or uninsured—or both. Licensing and insurance requirements vary from state to state, but you’ll want to ensure that your contractor is following the law. If issues arise and the contractor isn’t licensed and insured, it’s possible that you could be on the hook for any problems that happen on your property. Be sure to verify license and insurance information before you sign any contract.

Communicates poorly with you and with subcontractors. It’s common for contractors to bring in subcontractors—especially on large jobs. Keep an eye on how they manage their employees; if they aren’t clearly communicating with their workers, the quality of the job is at stake, and if they aren’t coming to you in case of issues and setbacks, you’ll be disappointed as well. Communication is key, and a contractor who isn’t good at it is someone you’ll want to avoid.

Abuses substances or wastes time. Professional contractors will not drink or do drugs on the job, so if you see this happening on your property, your contractor has a lot to answer for. Job crews should keep busy doing the work you have hired them to do. If the crew at your home appears to be wasting time or working under the influence, you’ve got a problem that needs to be addressed.

Isn’t easy to find. If you can’t bring up your contractor with an internet search or the facts they give you don’t line up with what you’re finding in your own research, you’ve found a red flag. Questionable contractors will change their company name frequently to avoid the accumulation of poor reviews online, so if your contractor says they’ve been in business since 1983 but you can’t find proof of their business more than a few years old, chances are something is up.

Won't Give You References

Won’t give you references. Contractors who do good work will have a list on hand of previous customers who are happy to share their experience in case a new client asks for references. Contractors who know their work doesn’t hold up won’t want to give you any numbers to call. Always ask for references—a good contractor will be happy to oblige.

A good choice early on will help your home repair project go as smoothly and easily as possible, while a poor choice can become quite a headache. But with thorough research and careful planning—and especially if you hire a Best Pick company—you can avoid the pitfalls of hiring someone who isn’t a good fit for you.

Click Here to View Your Local Best Pick® Roofers

Sources: Chicago Tribune; Do It Yourself; How Stuff Works; National Post; Today Home; Yahoo Homes.