Selecting a contractor for the renovation of your home is an important decision and one that requires you to ask the right questions. Before your first appointment have an idea of what type of services you are looking for. Do you need design assistance? Will you be purchasing your own lighting fixtures, plumbing fixtures, accessories, etc, or will you be ordering these items through the contractor? Do you have an idea of the materials you would like included in your project? What is your target investment range for the project? Do you have a specific timeframe for beginning/completing the project? Are there any specific concerns you have regarding the work, contractor, etc?
For your first appointment make a list and discuss your expectations with the consultant. Ensure that they are willing to listen to your needs and desires as well as make suggestions.
The CSLB urges consumers to follow these tips when dealing with a building contractor:
- Hire only licensed contractors and ask to see the license;
- Don’t rush into decisions;
- Be especially hesitant when approached by someone offering home improvement services door-to-door, especially when they will use material they claim is left over from another job;
- Verify the contractor’s license by checking online at www.cslb.ca.gov or via CSLB’s automated phone service at 1-800-321-CSLB (2752);
- Check references and get a written contract.
Here are just a few other tips to help you in the search for your next contractor:
- You should always make sure that you obtain a lien release for the work on your home once it is completed and you have made the final payment. Ask the contractor in your initial meeting with them if they provide lien releases on their work.
- Find out how long the contractor has been in business. The longer they’ve been in business, the more of a reputation they have to uphold.
- Ask the contractor about their insurance and that of their sub contractors. Ask to see the General Contractor’s Worker’s Compensation and General Liability Insurance Certificates.
- Always check the old tried and true – the Better Business Bureau. This will tell you if any formal complaints have been filed against the company in the past.
- Never hire the contractor with the lowest price. Keep in mind that if it seems too good to be true, it most likely is. A contractor who is able to charge prices well below their competitors is most likely already on their way out of the business and is desperately trying to stay afloat. They will probably be lacking in qualified help and the materials used are often low quality. Low prices may sound great in the beginning, but in the end could end up costing you more than you’d have paid to have it done right the first time.