Important Aspects to Consider
Contractor's License A contractor must have a
state license to work on your property. It is in your best interest to find out the following: 1)
Is the license "active" in your state? 2) Does the license belong to the contractor proposing to do the
work for you? 3) Are there registered complaints against the contractor? By calling your state's
licensing board, you can verify license information. If you use an unlicensed contractor on your home,
the state will not be able to help you when or if something goes wrong.
Insurance A contractor should have two types
of insurance before you allow them to work on your home. Worker's Compensation - This insurance
is to cover injuries to a contractor's employee while working on your property. Make sure the contractor has
an insurance certificate made out in your name before work begins. If a contractor cannot produce a proof
of insurance, you become liable for any injuries. Liability Insurance - This insurance covers
damage to your property while work is being done there. Have the contractor send you an insurance
certificate made out in your name before work begins. If the contractor does not have liability coverage,
damage to your home from unforeseen rain or an accidental fire will have to be covered by our own
Deposits By law a contractor is only allowed to ask
for a 10% deposit (California, other states may differ) before starting your work. If he asks for
anything more than 10%, then he may be using your money to pay for past bills. A company that is
financially secure and trusted by material supplies does not need to ask for a deposit unless the job
is using custom material or is an extremely large project.
Permits Any work over $750 (excluding repairs)
typically requires a city permit (California, other states may differ). The permit pays for a city
inspector to come to your property and inspect the work of the contractor for your protection. All permits
should be issued by the contractor. Be very careful if a contractor tells you to go and get the permit
because it will "save you money". A permit costs the same no matter who gets it. He may be having you get
the permit as now the homeowner agrees to be the responsible party for insurance and work liability
with the city.
Material and Labor Releases Request that the
contractor issue these releases upon completion for any new construction as it releases you from
financial liability if the contractor does not pay his material or labor bills for work at your property.
The Contractor Here are some additional points to
consider when deciding between comparable contractors. 1) Was the contractor on time for your estimate?
If not, or if he failed to show, calling up later with some excuse, drop him from your bid list immediately.
If a contractor is not "on his game" at the time he most wants to impress you (before he has been given
the job), then he will not be "on his game" after he gets you to sign the contract. 2) Does the contractor
have an actual office for you to go visit? 3) Does the contractor have a secretary or paging service for
emergency situations? 4) Do you feel comfortable with him workin on your biggest investment, that being
your home? Remember, the person you meet with could just be a nice salesman and not the person you will
deal with regarding the actual work and any complaints or concerns you may have. 5) Call your city's
building department and ask if they are familiar with the contractor you plan to use and if they have
anything negative to say about the company.
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