Nobody wants to hire a shady contractor, but sometimes, it does not take much for a renovation project to go sideways. There are a lot of problems you will encounter when you are doing a home renovation like poor artistry, bills that keep growing and the countless delays in the construction because of different factors.

But the worse issue you might face is hiring shady contractors that will take your money and doesn’t finish the project. Complaints from clients against contractors that specialize in home improvements rank among the top complaint categories every year not only in New York but all over the United States.

According to New York City’s Consumer affairs department, there were at least 1,116 complaints that are filed against contractors in 2017. The city government issues, at least $1.5 million worth of fines. There has been a slight drop in the number of complaints filed since 2016, but it is an ongoing issue among people who are renovating their house.

To know more about New York Consumers Affair, visit

The big question is, how can a homeowner find a respectable and legitimate contractor? There are a lot of skilled and hardworking tradesmen in the industry, but finding them is pretty hard to do.

The first thing to do is to get familiarized with all the regulations and rules in your area when it comes to home improvement. Laws about home improvement differ depending on the state or municipality you are living in. Make sure that you are hiring a contractor that is licensed in your area.

Usually, these professionals have a higher asking price because it takes a lot of money to be a specialist, not to mention the amount of money it takes to get a professional license.  Fly-by-night contractors that did not specialize in home improvement and don’t have a permit will offer you a cheaper service.

Do your due diligence to research

After getting some recommendations from your friends, family members, neighbors, or co-workers who have experienced hiring contractors, you can check the contractor’s site or call their office. Check previous client reviews about the contractor’s services and how they perform on their projects.

You can also visit their office and check all their licenses, the office environment, as well as their workers if they look legitimate. Home improvement contractors that work in the five boroughs of New York need a license from the city’s Department of Consumer Affairs before they can your due diligence researching about the company you are trying to hire.

Find out if there are previous clients that filed a complaint against the contractor. You can check New York’s Open Data system for any data about home improvement contractors. You can find charges, inspections, violations, and complaints that are filed against the contractors in Consumer Affairs’ “Datasets by Agency” system.

To know more about New York’s Open Data system, click here.

Residents of Long Island can call consumer affairs for Suffolk and Nassau counties if they want to check the contractor’s licenses. Contractors with shady track records in another county can get a permit in other counties and continue to work there. Home remodeling industry, as well as contractor licensing, is like the Wild West.

There are a lot of contractors that are out to take advantage of unsuspecting people who want to remodel their houses. That is why you need to be very vigilant because you are investing a lot of money when you are renovating your home.

Once you know they are licensed, you need to do some research online. But reading past client reviews are not enough; you need to dig deeper than that. You can use research software like LexisNexis to know if there have been or there are pending lawsuits filed against them.

Red flags include subcontractor looking for a significant amount of back pay or overtime or a previous client filing a lawsuit for breach of contract. Check the BBB or Better Business Bureau to see if the contractor faced complaints about their services.

If you ask why you need to do an in-depth background check on these companies, the answer is, there’s a shortage of skilled labor in the country and finding a good and quality tradesmen are very hard to find. High-quality contractors are very busy, and frequently, they are not looking for work, work finds them.

And because of this shortage, there are companies taking advantage of the situation. Lastly, you need to ask yourself if you can see working with the contractor you choose.