Most contractors conduct business in a professional manner, however, as is the case in any profession, there are exceptions. Although we are not able to make contractor recommendations, there are some good local consumer referral services available to assist you and the Contractor's State License Board has some helpful information at www.cslb.ca.gov.
There are several precautions that you should take in hiring a contractor:
- Make sure the contractor is licensed and insured. Ask to see his or her pocket license.
- Once you have decided on the scope of work that you would like to have done, be sure to get several (at least three) bids.
- Ask for references from work that the contractor has done in your area. Make sure that the references had work done that is similar in nature to your proposed project.
- Insist on a written contract and make sure that you understand the terms before you sign it. Do not simply accept a price written on the back of a business card.
- Don't give the contractor an excessive deposit. Under State law, when undertaking a home improvement or repair job, a contractor cannot ask for a deposit of more than 10% of the total cost of the job OR $1000, whichever is less, unless the contractor provides a bond, approved bond equivalent, or approved joint control ensuring completion of your contract. Any such bond is in addition to the bond required of all contractors for licenser.
- Make sure that the contractor obtains the necessary construction permits and inspection approvals. A final inspection is always required at the end of a job. Insist on seeing the permit and inspection record card and on getting the signed card (or copy of such, upon final inspection approval.)
- Make sure that your payments to the contractor do not get ahead of the work completed and never pay the full cost of the job up front.
If you would like information about a contractor's license and bond status, you may call the Contractor's State License Board at 800-321-CSLB. Contractor complaints may be directed to their Northern Region office at 916-255-4041.