3 Ways Contractors Can Steal From You

Q: I gave my contractor money to buy materials for a job he was going to do for me on my rental property—he won’t return my phone calls and seems to be avoiding me.  What should I do?  (3 Ways Contractors Can Steal From You) Elliott, Deer Valley, NY

A: Elliott, unfortunately, if you are a real estate investor and employ contractors to work on property for you, there will probably come a time when you get ripped off by a contractor.  I definitely have been ripped off before, so I know the painful feeling.  Here are 3 ways that contractors can steal from you:

1. The first way is what seems to have happened to you—the contractor collects money upfront for work to be done and then disappears.  I try to avoid this from happening by using general contractors and making them responsible for buying the material for the work that they do.  If that isn’t feasible, you can also pay for the materials yourself.

2. The second way contractors steal is by doing a bait & switch.  By bait and switch, a contractor will offer to do work for you then wait until the project is well underway and claim that the material he quoted in his estimate is no longer available forcing him to buy a more expensive alternative and charge you more.

3. The third way home contractors steal is by cutting corners (i.e. for painting or roofing projects)  For example, a contractor may skip out on priming new walls by painting only newer seams with primer (or by not priming at all).

Roofing contractors sometimes don’t flash properly providing little to no protection from leaks.  The best way to protect yourself against unscrupulous contractors is by having a very solid written agreement with your contractor before work begins and money is exchanged.  Thanks for your question, Elliott—good luck.  For more real estate tips and information, visit my blog at or  I’m Gerald Lucas and I’ll see you again soon.