Every industry has its fair share of difficult clients – and most contractors don’t mind the fact that clients can be somewhat demanding. After all, there’s a lot at stake, financially and emotionally, in every construction project.
However, some clients should make contractors think twice before they bid on a job or commit to a contract. It’s one thing to deal with a client who is just exacting and specific about what they want and entirely another to deal with a client who is never going to be satisfied and who is inclined to resolve their concerns via litigation as opposed to reasonable negotiation or mediation.
Red flags that should make you wary
Usually, it only takes a few minutes of conversation with certain clients for the red flags to start waving. Clients you may want to screen carefully (if not outright walk away from) include:
- The DIY Expert: These are the folks who believe they know more about the job than the professionals. They (claim to) know how to do the job better, faster and at less expense than everybody they’ve already talked to before you, and they think everybody is out to cheat them.
- The Dreamer: At the other end of the spectrum, you have the client who has zero experience with construction projects – and they have zero interest in learning how things actually work. They have a lot of lofty goals and desires, but they think everything can be accomplished for pennies and in an entirely unrealistic time frame.
- The Haggler: Nobody wants to pay more for a job than they have to pay, so it’s normal for clients to do a little bargaining when it comes to price. However, when a client admits that they can’t afford what they want and tries to “nickel and dime” every part of the deal, there’s a real chance that you’ll have problems getting paid.
- The Cheat: This is the client who doesn’t care about rules, regulations, building codes or permits – and they’re not above a little larceny, either. They may boldly suggest that you “help them out” by inflating an estimate for their insurance or by skipping permits.
Carefully screening your clients (just like they screen you) can help you avoid a lot of potential problems – but disputes and litigation can still happen. When you’re involved in a dispute with a client, seeking experienced legal guidance can help.