Hinkle Outdoor Living
10 Signs You’re Working With A Bad Hardscape Contractor

10 Signs You’re Working With A Bad Hardscape Contractor


A good backyard renovation can be a wonderful addition to any home. Outdoor living spaces not only add value to your home, but also create a welcoming environment for family and friends to gather. Although these projects may seem straightforward, the experience of building your dream backyard can become a disaster if you work with the wrong contractor.

Over the last decade, we have received numerous calls from disappointed homeowners who are needing repair work done. Often, these repair requests are for projects that were recently installed by another contractor. Most of the time these jobs have to be completely gutted and reinstalled. As one can imagine, this is a huge disappointment to the homeowner. We want to save you this pain and encourage you to do it right the first time. Here are 10 things to consider before signing the dotted line with a contractor.

1). No Portfolio Or Relevant Work Experience

Make sure the project you’re hiring a contractor specializes in the scope of work that you’re wanting. Sure — you might know a handy guy that did a great job on a kitchen remodel, but that does NOT make him an expert at concrete or drainage. Ask the contractor to show you photos of his work that are similar to what you are looking for.

2). No Proof Of Work Comp.

This is a BIG deal. Lack of work comp insurance can get you, the homeowner, in a serious bind. When you hire someone to do work at your residence, you are legally considered the general contractor. This means you are liable for any injuries or damages that could occur when a contractor is working on your project.

3). Lack Of (Or Negative) Reviews

What do previous clients have to say? Ask to see reviews! A good contractor will happily show you reviews or put you in touch with a previous customer.

4). No Contract To Be Signed

This might seem obvious, but you’d be surprised by the stories we hear. If a contractor doesn’t provide a written and signed agreement, you’re going to want to find someone else. Make sure you understand the agreement in its entirety before you give a deposit. Key things to look for in a hardscape contract include permit details, completion dates, utility locates, and warranties.

5). Making You Put Down A Huge Deposit

If a contractor makes you put down more than 50% of the project total before the job even starts, you’re probably heading towards a scam. To give you an idea of what to expect, we require a 25% deposit to get you in our scheduling queue. Then we request 25% more on the day we begin construction. The final balance is due at the completion of the project.

6). Does Not Encourage Or Welcome Questions

If your contractor is not returning your emails or phone calls promptly, he’s probably avoiding you. A good contractor will want you to understand the scope of work that he’s providing.

7). He’s Late or Doesn’t Show Up When He Says He’s Coming

First impressions are everything, right? If a contractor forgets to meet with you or shows up beyond late without reason, he’s probably not reliable. Unfortunately this is something that homeowners can expect to experience in this industry. At Hinkle Hardscapes, we do our very best to show up when we say we will. We won’t forget about your appointment. We know your time is precious and we genuinely care about your project.  

8). Does Not Treat Your Property With Respect

Does your contractor lay down plywood in the grass before operating heavy machinery? Does he take his shoes off when he’s inside your home? Are there water bottles and other miscellaneous trash left over when they leave? Our motto is to treat the property like you would treat your own home.

9). The “Tude”

Attitude is everything right? Sometimes you just gotta go with your gut. If you’re not connecting with your contractor, or you just have a “bad feeling” you should probably look elsewhere.

10). The Deal Seems Too Good To Be True

If one contractor’s bid is coming in significantly lower than their competitors, this is a huge red flag. Like most things in life, the cheapest option isn’t always the best one. Make sure you’re comparing apples to apples.


To conclude, make sure you do enough research on a contractor before you give him a check or sign a dotted line. In the last 11 years, we’ve seen many homeowners get taken advantage of. Selecting the right contractor is key to ensuring your outdoor living project will be beautiful and long lasting.


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