Sometimes we all have to hire a professional every now and then, and it can be a daunting task if you don’t have past experience with a contractor. Even referrals are no guarantee that all will be well with your choice.

The other day a client was in my office sharing a negative experience they had with a local contractor. They had gotten a referral from a neighbor. The experience the neighbor had been a good one, theirs – not so good.

When I asked what had happened, they informed me that the job dragged on for months, the work wasn’t done correctly and they couldn’t ever get the guy to come back and complete the project (this was for the plumbing work).

I was familiar with the company and couldn’t believe the owner conducted his business in this way. It was then that a very important detail was discovered. They had chosen to hire the employee of the company, not the company itself (the neighbor had hired the company).

So I said, “Let’s look at what took place here.” We took a minute to evaluate the character of the one they chose to hire.

They chose to hire someone who lacks loyalty. If he couldn’t exhibit loyalty to his employer who provides him constant employment, how could they expect him to exhibit loyalty to them?

I asked if he worked in his own truck or used his employer’s truck; they replied his employer’s truck.

So in addition to being disloyal, he is also a thief. He used his employer’s gas, tools, equipment, marketing expenses and job opportunities to further his own interest and benefit, rather than allow his employer to receive the call. This demonstrates an ungrateful attitude.

I asked what would he have done for them if an accident had occurred on the job or if he had damaged the property. With character traits like he has shown so far, I wouldn’t count on him coming through when you need him most. All of this was traded in for a cheaper price.

The client in my office realized they had made a mistake in their choice and came out of it fairly fortunate in that no property damage was caused by his actions and no accident had occurred while he was working on their home.

The worst thing that happened for them was an inconvenience, frustration and unnecessary loss of time with their project completion. What they came away with was a hard lesson learned.

This is not to say that hiring an unlicensed skilled craftsman to perform a job for you will always be a negative experience no more than all licensed professionals will deliver a perfect job.

All things must be considered. If having the assurance of being protected by workman’s compensation and General Liability is important to you, then you should consider only companies that can provide that protection.

If the project exceeds $5,000 in costs, the company should possess a South Carolina home builders license.

A licensed company owner can hold his employees accountable to remain focused on the project until it is complete. Of course, this doesn’t guarantee that they will follow this approach.

The best approach would be to maximize the most positive attributes possible; this would include being properly licensed in the state.

Does the company have a good reputation? Have you received any positive referrals? Is there any unresolved complaints against the company? Have you spoken to past customers that have used the company in the past few months or the past year or two? Do you feel comfortable with the person you’re doing business with? Do they make you feel rushed or pushed into making a decision?

If you don’t feel you can trust the individual, don’t disregard that feeling, it can guide you in making the right decision.

If you have any projects, questions or concerns you would like addressed, send your emails to

JD Norris is the owner/operator of DreamMaker Bath&Kitchen and a certified S.C. Master Builder, certified “Aging in Place” Specialist and certified Green Professional.