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Save Money On Hidden Contractor Fees

By Chris Bibey

hidden contractor feesNo matter why you are hiring a contractor, one thing is for sure: you are going to be spending a good amount of money. In addition to supplies, you are paying for labor. Hiring a contractor is a great idea when you’ve decided the best solution is to bring in a professional rather than do it yourself. That being said, there are hidden fees that can turn this entire process into a nightmare. Below are several hidden contractor fees that I have personally “caught” over the past few months:

1. Service charge. When you call a contractor to setup an in-home consultation it is important to ask if there is a service charge. With this, you have to pay money just to have the contractor visit your home and offer a quote. As you can imagine, this is nothing more than a waste of money. There are plenty of contractors that will give you a free quote. Last month, when speaking with a roofing contractor, I was told that they charge $50 for an initial consultation and then $25 for any follow-up questions that call for another visit. I never thought twice about hiring this company. To me, the follow-up fee was completely unreasonable.

2. Sneaking in upgrades that you did not ask for. In addition to the work that you need done, some contractors will tell you that there are many other things that require your attention. As if this isn’t bad enough, I caught two contractors trying to sneak additional work into the contract without telling me. When approached, they both had the same answer: I thought you wouldn’t mind because it needs to be done anyway. I don’t have a problem with a contractor offering advice. In fact, I welcome it because they are the professionals. But I definitely don’t like when this is done without my knowledge. Not only does it mean more work to my house, but it also comes at a higher price.

3. Verbiage about additional costs as the project moves forward. It is essential that you receive a firm price quote. The last thing you want is to be quoted a price of $1k, for example, just to find the contractor asking for another $500 along the way. I know that things can come up during the course of a job that may change the price. At the same time, the contractor is responsible for knowing what they are getting into and then providing a quote that covers each and every detail. There is a big difference between a contractor asking for more money because they found something that couldn’t initially be seen, and simply wanting to scam you because they know you might fall for it. For instance, a roofing contractor may not know that the wood under your shingles is rotted until they begin the job. At this point, they should come to you, explain the situation, and ask how you want to move forward.

Use your common sense when hiring somebody to work on your home. If you come across hidden fees that you consider unfair, continue your search for a better contractor.

Any hidden fee stories that you’ve dealth with?

(photo credit: tileroofspecialists)

Chris Bibey
Chris Bibey is a freelance writer who over the years has honed his personal finance experience by writing more than 100 feature articles on the subject. In his spare time, Chris enjoys sports - West Virginia football in particular!

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  • Karmella

    This is good info for me – thanks!

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