I like watching those home building/remodeling TV shows. The granddaddy of them all is This Old House. It's easy for me to watch and instantly pick out the "builders" from the "pretty boys". Guys like Norm Abrams and Tom Silva know their stuff. I doubt guys like original host Bob Vila know which end of a hammer to hold.
The ones that build a house for a deserving owner while they're on vacation for a few days scare me. Think about it...would you want a house built in 4 days? There would be workers crawling all over each other to get their part done and get the hell out, quality be damned! In 4 days the paint isn't even dry yet.
Now there's a new show that I'll admit I haven't watched yet, but sounds interesting, called Catch a Contractor. Love it! There are indeed a bunch, maybe even a majority of contractors who need to be caught....and tarred and feathered.
BUT....IMO there should also be a companion show called Stupid Homebuyers....it takes two to tango. Here's an example of what happens to me often:
Mr & Mrs B (previous customers from 16 years ago) came back to me and said they wanted a new home built. They had a budget of $X, wanted Y square feet, and wanted ABC amenities.
We went to the architect and began the design process, but along the way they kept adding footage (10% more) and amenities (now they wanted ABCDEFGHI & J), but they would absolutely NOT raise their budget. They said if I couldn't do it, there was another builder they had talked to that could.
Adios Mr & Mrs B!
My brother recently ran into Mrs B in a local store and she rather sheepishly volunteered that things hadn't gone exactly smoothly. Bro later checked the public records and found that the B's had to go back to their bank and renegotiate their loan upwards twice, totaling over $100K. And to hear them tell it it was all the contractors fault.
Their cheapness got them what the deserved....a cheap, crappy house! The builder told them what they wanted to hear to get the job, but could then only hire whatever left-over labor was still out there. Same with materials.
He was a crook for doing business that way, and the B's had larceny in their heart, too, trying to get lots of extra stuff for nothing.
Cry me a river. They deserve each other.
Do yourself a favor before you build or remodel: RESEARCH carefully. Three references aren't enough. Get at least a dozen. Call them all. Call their subcontractors and see if they pay their bills. If they don't you'll find lots of subs who have only worked for that contractor for a few months. Longevity is good.
Check public records to see if they have liens filed against them. A Better Business Bureau A+ record doesn't mean what it used to. (Many claim the BBB is now just interested in signing up new dues-paying members.)
And THINK! You're not going to get a Mercedes for the price of a Chevy, I don't care what the salesman says.