Tips For Hiring a Contractor

Here are a few tips that we recently learned when looking for a contractor. Feel free to post your own.

  • Ask for a license number. Even if you know the person, it can't hurt to ask. If they don't give you a number, you can look them up by first name, last name, aliases, and or company names. You will be able to see if their license is expired, pending, and or current. The cool part is that you can even find out if they have ever even been issued a license in the state before. If they are legit, they will not hesitate to give you the number. The website I gave you above has great information. For example, it tells you what the requirements are for contractors when they apply for a license, how much licenses cost, things to watch out for, and a phone number for any questions or concerns you may have.
  • Checking the Better Business Bureau to see if they have had complaints is also a good idea. Check before you hire them, not after.
  • Check references. We can't stress this enough. Don't check them after you hire them, check them before! There are always two sides to every story and you will be surprised at how candid people will be with you.
  • Ask them how long they have worked with their vendors? Who do they have relationships with? If they have long standing relationships with vendors and they work with them consistently, that means they will be able to get you great deals.
  • When you shop for material like tile, or appliances, most places, even Lowe's and Home Depot will know local contractors they can recommend to you. They see contractors all day long and can sometimes point you to a great person.
  • Ask for insurance information. They should have workers comp, should be bonded, etc. This should not feel like pulling teeth. Either they have it or they don't. If they have it, they shouldn't have a problem showing you proof.
  • If he or she does not have a license they are not able able to pull permits for you. If they ask you to pull them yourself be careful. They might tell you to pull your own permits because it will save you money... not true. Whether you pull them or they do, it costs the same. However, the difference is if YOU pull the permit, you become LIABLE if something goes wrong. YOU are RESPONSIBLE for anything that happens on your property such as a worker having an accident. If they pull them, they are responsible. In my opinion, the only exception to you pulling the permit is if you sign a contract with a licensed contractor afterwards that says they are liable and will take full responsibility.
  • According to the state of California, if someone performs work that costs over $500 dollars, they must have a license or they can be fined and or taken to court. So it's best to hire someone who has a license if you are doing major work. If you are doing small stuff here or there, then it's up to you whether you want to go through the trouble.
  • When you are getting a bid, be specific about everything that you need done. Ask if they haul away material. Ask if they usually stay within the proposed budget and time line. Get everything in writing. Ask how they have handled disputes in the past. Ask if they have repeat customers.
  • Sign a contract!!! Do not start work without it. If someone keeps avoiding handing you one, it won't end well. Contracts protect both you and your contractor so there should be no reason not to have one.
  • Always keep in mind that it is your money, your home, your choice. It's better to ask and be safe than sorry especially when it involves an investment. Don't assume people will volunteer information on their own. ASK QUESTIONS.

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