As the homeowner, you can avoid much stress and strife by doing your due diligence to find a contractor who not only does great work but is also honest, professional, and dependable.
Whatever resources you use to compile a list of prospective contractors, and even if you get a referral from a friend or family member, it’s important that you do your own research.
The first step is to confirm that the contractor is currently licensed, has a physical business address and a business telephone number, and has worker’s compensation insurance for its employees. License, contact, and insurance information for California contractors can all be found at the Contractors State License Board website (cslb.ca.gov).
Next it’s key to obtain at least three bids for your project. Make sure each contractor is bidding on the same plans and scope of work so you have a common baseline from which to compare price, materials, and their grasp of the work involved. A word of caution if you receive a bid that is substantially lower than the others. What may seem on the surface to be a great deal could be a sign that the contractor is inexperienced or looking to cut corners or has excluded certain items from its bid.
Over the years we have seen arguments between the homeowner and the contractor that should never have taken place. A good contractor will make sure that you know what is going to be built or remodeled. What materials are to be use and how the project will proceed. This protects you and protects the Contractor. An experienced contractor knows that “kitchen cabinets” is not enough of a descriptive. The Contractor should be able to describe the cabinets with detail. Without knowing exactly what you are getting, disagreements in the future are certain.
It’s also important to ask each contractor for references. Talking to former clients gives you firsthand insight into each contractor’s personality, reliability, and how they conduct their day-to-day operations on the worksite. Look at pictures and maybe even go see a previous job.
Once you’ve decided on your contractor, they will formalize the agreement with a written contract. Next article: what your contract should contain before signing.