5 Tips When Hiring A Home Improvement Contractor

Posted on: December 15th, 2016

If you are in the market to hire a home improvement contractor, there are many pitfalls for consumers. Below are five tips to help you avoid trouble when hiring a home improvement contractor:

  1. Hire only a state licensed contractor.  It is illegal for an unlicensed person to perform contracting work on any project valued at $500 or more in combined labor and material costs in California.
  1. Check the status of the contractor’s license.  The California State Licensing Board (CSLB) provides a free look-up on its website that lists the status of the contractor’s license.  The licensing page also provides the classification type of the contractor, bonding information, and whether the contractor has workers’ compensation insurance.
  1. Get it in writing. In California, there must be a written contract for all home improvement projects over $500 in combined labor and materials costs. The contract should contain everything agreed upon by you and the licensed contractor. It should detail the work that will be completed, the price, when payments will be made, and when the job will be finished.
  1. Never pay more than 10% down or $1,000, whichever is less, as a down payment.  It is illegal for a contractor to ask for or accept a down payment of more. There is an exception for about two dozen licensees who carry special bonds known as Blanket Performance and Payment Bonds. These exceptions are noted on the contractor’s license (see No. 2 above).
  1. Manage payment schedule.  Make sure you do not pay in cash so there is a record of payment. Additionally, do not allow payments to get ahead of the work schedule (wait until each phase of the contract is completed before making a progress payment). Finally, do not make the final payment until you are satisfied with the job.

For more information on hiring a licensed contractor, visit the California State Licensing Board website.

Photo courtesy of JD Hancock


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