Hiring a competent commercial contractor to raise, expand, or renovate your commercial project is always a better idea than trying to execute the entire process of construction all by yourself. If you’ve picked the right people for the job, you can simply sit back and relax. They’ll take care of everything in a systematic and organized manner.

But if you somehow finalise an unreliable or deceitful builder, you could either end up with a poorly constructed space or with an incomplete project. This would simply be a waste of your time and energy. Plus, you’d be spending lots of money in order to correct all the mistakes this builder has made. To help you save time, stress and money, we’ve created a list of some of the top commercial builder red flags to look out for while hiring professional help for your commercial project.

Commercial Builder Red Flags to Look Out for #1

Hiring a Builder Without Doing a Background Check

No matter what kind of contractor you’ll speak with, they’ll try their absolute best to portray themselves as a highly reliable company. But it’d be foolish to trust a stranger with such a complicated and crucial job without doing any background checks, first. 

More often them not, the company you have approached can put their money where their mouth is, but just to 100 per cent sure you can ask them to submit a list of references to help you verify their work. It’s important to note how the builder reacts to this request. If you sense hesitation from the contractor, or if they brush over the topic, chances are they could be something wrong…If they flat out refuse to give you any references then this should be your first sign to take an exit route and try a different builder.

If the builder readily provides you with a list of references, please do not hesitate to contact these people and to ask a few questions, for example:

  • What was the exact nature of work you hired the builder for and how was their overall experience?
  • Ask whether a proper contract was established between the two of you or not? And did the builder abide by its terms & conditions?
  • Was the project completed on time?
  • Was the project completed within the stipulated amount of money?

Verify with a few different people before finalizing the builder. Ask these questions, plus any other questions that you might have. An inability of a contractor to verify their references is one of the biggest commercial builder red flags to look out for. If they fail this step, no need to waste your time with this person.

It’s always a good idea to check the contractor’s google reviews as well. If a client has had a bad experience with any given builder or has been ripped off in anyway, chances are they’ve left a bad review, detailing their experience.

Commercial Builder Red Flags | ImpeccaBuild

Commercial Builder Red Flags to Look Out for #2

Absence of Insurance and a Proper License

The significance of insurance can’t be emphasized enough! Imagine a scenario where your builder doesn’t have adequate insurance and a mishap occurs. Maybe a worker gets injured. Do you know who’d be held responsible for this? You! So, it’s super important that your contractor has an appropriate insurance plan to cover such incidences before he starts working on your project.

An alternative to this is to request the builder to sign a waiver of lien stating that neither his company nor any of the subcontractors he hires, could file a lien against you or your project in case something goes wrong. This will also protect you in a scenario where the contractor refuses to pay the subcontractors, who could then file a suit against you or your property, in an attempt to extract more money than what was promised originally.

Just like insurance, a proper license is also very important. Different licensing laws govern different states in Australia. So, make sure that your contractor’s license covers the state in which your property is located. Property related licensing laws are specifically designed by the government to safeguard property owners from deceitful or negligent contractors. Therefore, an absence of a proper license is always considered as one of the main commercial builder red flags to avoid.

Commercial Builder Red Flags to Look Out for #3

Hiring a Builder Who’s Not Willing to Sign a Contract

Signing a legal contract is one step you simply can’t afford to skip. If your contractor shows an unwillingness to sign a contract, please do not move forward with him. A contract is your biggest tool of defence in case a dispute arises during the process of construction. 

Also, please note that a vague contract is as good as a non-existent one. So, you have to pay a lot of attention to what’s written in it. Contact your contractor and discuss all the terms and conditions several days in advance and when both of you reach a point of agreement regarding all the aspects of the project, sign a contract in the presence of a legal advisor. Only after completing this step, allow your contractor to start the process of construction.

Make sure your contract discusses all the below mentioned points, plus any other details that are specific to the nature of your project – 

  • A detailed description and scope of work, what kind of materials and equipment are going to be used, how many people will be hired and for what purposes.
  • A clear timeline for the project – what is the estimated date of completion for each stage of the project.
  • Budget details and the payment schedule – calculate estimated costs for everything and accordingly fix a payment schedule to be followed.
Commercial Builder Red Flags | ImpeccaBuild

Commercial Builder Red Flags to Look Out for #4

Hiring a Builder Who’s Doesn’t Stick to Their Contract Terms & Conditions

A good contractor will have a contract written up for you to review and sign before your project commences. The contract should service the interest of both parties; holding the builder accountable to deliver a completed project, on-time, within the agreed budget and of a high quality standard and to ensure you (the client) pays the builder on time. Its extremely import you as the clients reads and understands the terms of conditions of this project, ensuing the builders hasn’t included any sneaky clauses you aren’t aware of, or haven’t discussed previously.

Being able to convince your contractor to sign a very detailed and well-articulated contract is indeed a wonderful achievement! But what if, after a few days or a couple of weeks, you realize that your builder isn’t really following the terms & conditions of the contract? 

If you notice that your contractor is doing things differently in a way that could sabotage the quality of construction or could cost you a lot more than what was originally discussed, you have every right to question him or in the worst-case scenario, fire him. It’s best to recognize such commercial builder red flags early on so you won’t have to face such situations.

Your commercial contract mentions in great detail, not just the steps of the process, but also, the materials to be used, the time frame of the construction, and the budget estimates for each stage of operation. If you feel that your contractor is unable to abide by any of these things, immediately contact him and ask him why things are not being done the right way?

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Commercial Builder Red Flags to Look Out for #5

Inability to Improvise or Troubleshoot

Do you know why you choose to hire a professional contractor instead of doing the job yourself? Because a contractor can handle the various aspects of construction a lot more skillfully and with a strong sense of competence. But if you recognize signs of clumsiness or incompetence, especially an inability to improvise as per the demands of the situation, please consider hiring someone else.

It’s important to understand that no construction process can be absolutely hiccup-free. It’s inevitable to face complications like – materials being out of stock, workers getting sick, malfunctioning of equipment, etc. During such situations, it’s the job of your commercial builder to find solutions and alternatives. So, try to find a builder who shows traits like – adaptability, determination, and resourcefulness.

In fact, a truly ingenious builder always has a disaster management plan ready in case something goes wrong. It’s ideal to find a contractor who willingly shows you his safety certificates and disaster management plans. Your contractor should understand that it is his responsibility to take care of his workers’ health and safety during the entire process of construction while nurturing an environment of enthusiasm and tenacity.

Commercial Builder Red Flags to Look Out for #6

Money Related Issues

Many things come under the umbrella of ‘money related issues’. While we understand that It’s only natural for a contractor to quote a bigger number in the beginning, but with the right negotiation skills, you can bring this number down to a reasonable price. But if you notice that your contractor is inclined towards employing devious and deceitful ways to make some extra cash, please avoid going ahead with this person.

Some of the most common markers to identify money-related commercial builder red flags include – 

  • Offering a Price That’s Too-Good-To-Be-True – If a contractor offers you a great price, before grabbing it with both your hands, do a little background check. Often inexperienced or unlicensed contractors resort to this strategy of offering a price that’s ‘too good to be true’ to unsuspecting owners. Do not fall for it. Thoroughly investigate his references, the status of his license as well as insurance plans before finalizing the deal.
  • Forcing You to Pay ‘Too Much’ Money Upfront – The norm is to pay somewhere between 25 to 45 percent of the total amount in advance. If a builder asks for more than that, kindly take a step back. It’s ideal to pay your contractor in installments, as and when different stages of the project gets completed. Also, avoid paying large amounts in cash. Use other means like cheques, credit card payments, online transfers, etc.

The Intention of Embezzlement – Misappropriation of funds is a common practice among unprofessional contractors. An example of this could be – ordering more supplies than necessary and then sneakily using them to complete someone else’s project or to remodel their own kitchen. Make sure the person or the company you hire has no such intentions. These money-related issues are very important commercial builder red flags, which you need to avoid at all costs.

Commercial Builder Red Flags | ImpeccaBuild

Commercial Builder Red Flags to Look Out for #7

Poor Communication Skills

By communication skills, we do not mean that your contractor needs to be a powerful orator. Of course not! What we are looking for is someone who can articulate his thoughts clearly and convey them effectively. Effective communication signifies that your contractor is clear in his own head and has plenty of knowledge and understanding about the industry.

As someone who’s putting his hard-earned money into this project, you have every right to know what exactly is going on and it’s your commercial builder’s responsibility to keep you updated. From the very beginning of your conversation try to notice whether your contractor replies to your messages, emails, and missed calls or not. How easy or difficult it is to approach him in order to discuss a new idea or to ask for a status update?

Ideally, your contractor should willingly tell you everything about the progress of the project. If you feel that he keeps giving vague or ambiguous explanations all the time, there’s a possibility that he’s hiding something from you. Poor communication skills is actually one of the most easily recognizable commercial builder red flags.


The task of hiring someone to execute the commercial project of your dreams in a flawless manner is indeed a tricky one. Do not rush the process. Take your time, connect with multiple companies, meet different types of contractors, observe them, ask them the questions you need to ask, and then, after carefully analyzing all the pros and cons, make the final call. Throughout the process, keep in mind the above mentioned commercial builder red flags and if you find any, take an exit.

Keep looking, keep searching till you are absolutely sure. Yes, this might sound like you are not going to find anybody, ever. But the truth is that highly experienced, truly professional, and genuinely committed commercial builders are aplenty in Australia. You just need to know what to look out for, and more importantly, what not to!

How ImpeccaBuild Can Help You Find the Right Commercial Builder for Your Project

What’s the next step once you are done with the construction process? Designing and decoration of the space, right? Instead of waiting around, hire an experienced fitout professional right from the beginning. We, at ImpeccaBuild, would certainly make things easier and quicker for you. We’ll help you hire the right commercial contractor for your project by keeping in mind the look and feel you want to ultimately create. Call Us On: 1300 LETS BUILD or send us an email on: [email protected]

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