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Ask friends, family and co-
Before contacting a contractor have a list of questions ready.
Some suggestions are:
Do you have a contractor’s license? What type. Different types of work require different types of licenses. Verify the license. Click here to check California licenses. If their license is not verifiable, or is not in good standing, you should probably move on to the next contractor on your list.
How long have they been in business?
How much of your work will they do, how much will they subcontract?
Will all required permits be pulled by the contractor?
Do they carry workers comp and liability insurance?
Is your project the type that they do on a regular basis?
Once you have decided to let someone bid your job you need to pay attention to many factors that will help you decide if this contractor is appropriate for your job.
Walk the job with them. Pay attention to the level of detail the contractor puts into the bid process. If someone glances at the jobsite and throws a bid out, there is a good chance they just want the job and are not concerned about being able to complete it properly.
If a bid is significantly lower that the others, there is a good chance you will be disappointed with both the process and the outcome.
Another thing to avoid is using a contractor who wants a substantial down payment to start the job.
Ask for a written estimate. The more detail the contractor supplies on the estimate, the better.
Ask for current referrals (recently completed work). When checking referrals, only consider information from people who had similar work done. If you are having color concrete installed, only speak to people who had color work done. If you are having a swimming pool installed, only speak to people who had a swimming pool installed. Ask questions about the workmanship, professionalism and cleanliness. Ask if the work was completed in the agreed timeframe and for the agreed dollar amount.
Ask for copies of insurance certificates (liability and worker’s comp) and their contractor’s bond information.
Everything needs to be in writing. A formal contract is best. Be sure it includes everything you expect to be done, or have spoken with the contractor about.
Be sure that it includes when your job will begin and when it will be completed.
It should specify all work being completed and how much it will cost and when payments are due. It is common to pay one third up front, one third once a substantial portion of the work has been completed and the final third once all work has been completed.
Before making the final payment, require material and labor releases for all work performed on your property and be sure the contractor has completed all agreed work including cleanup.
Once work has begun on your property, expect to start receiving California 20 Day Preliminary Notices for materials delivered to your property. This is not a lien, nor does it indicate that your contractor is conducting business improperly. It does mean that suppliers are securing lien rights to your property until they are fully paid for materials delivered. This is why you MUST insist on having UNCONDITIONAL FINAL RELEASES for any materials delivered to your property prior to making final payment. Be sure to examine the releases thoroughly to ensure that all amounts are correct and through dates cover the completion of your project.
It is very important that homeowners are knowledgeable about the Mechanic’s Lien Law prior to contracting to have any work performed on their property.
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