HOW TO FIND THE RIGHT CONTRACTOR
A responsible and informed consumer not only works more effectively with reliable and accountable contractors but also can avoid being scammed by disreputable providers. Educate yourself by following these easy steps to help you find the right contractor for the job.
Check Their License Status
First and foremost, you must check the license status online or call (800) 321-CSLB (2752). A contractor’s license number is required to be present on all advertising materials, so it shouldn’t be too hard to find. Concierge displays the license number prominently on their profile page. Remember, that just because a contractor has a license number does mean that it is current and valid, that is why it is essential to check the status before entering into the bidding process. Concierge verifies each contractor’s license is valid.
Request 3 Bids for the Project
Get at least three written bids on your project, and make sure you're comparing bids based on the same criteria, including identical plans, specifications, and scope of work. Do not automatically accept the lowest bid, especially if it is substantially lower than the others. An unusually low bid indicates that the contractor may have made a mistake, is not referencing the same scope of work, or provides substandard work. It also risks possible financial and legal consequences that outweigh any benefits a lower bid may seem to offer.
Be sure to ask to see his/her pocket license, along with a picture I.D. to make sure the person you're dealing with is the same person on the license. Contractors tend to hire salespeople to work for them, but they must be registered with CSLB as a Home Improvement Salesperson. Ask to see the registration card, along with a picture I.D.
Ask for References
Even though Concierge has checked several references and does an online search on the service providers, it is always a good idea to ask for additional references to give you the peace of mind that the vendor is a good fit for your particular job.
Verify the Contractor's Business Information
Make sure your contractor has a current business address and telephone number. A contractor who operates a business from the back of a pickup truck with a cellphone may be difficult to find if a job needs to be fixed after the last bill is paid. Their “address of record" will be on file with their license information.
Verify the contractor's workers' compensation and commercial general liability insurance coverage
Concierge has verified the appropriate insurance is carried based on the type of work the contractor provides. But just to be sure, ask to see a copy of the Certificate of Insurance, or ask for the name of the contractor's insurance carrier and agency to verify that the contractor has insurance.
In California, if a contractor has employees, he/she is required to carry workers' compensation insurance. The importance of this cannot be overstated. If a worker is injured working on your property and the contractor doesn't have insurance, you could be financially liable to pay for injuries and rehabilitation. Your homeowner's insurance may or may not cover those costs. You should check with your insurance carrier to make sure the workers' compensation insurance coverage being provided by the contractor is adequate. Learn more from the California Department of Insurance.
Commercial general liability insurance is not required; however, it covers damage to your property. If the contractor does not carry general liability insurance, he/she should be able to explain how damage or losses will be handled; otherwise you or your insurance company could end up paying for damages.
A licensed contractor must provide you with information regarding both types of insurance in your written contract.
Note that all C-39 roofing contractors, regardless of if they have employees, must carry workers' compensation insurance or have a valid Certification of Self-Insurance on file with CSLB. This information is indicated when you review the status of a contractor's license.
California licensed contractors are required to have a contractor license bond. It's important to know what bonds do and do not cover. Bonds do not assure the financial or professional integrity or competency of a contractor, as institutional lenders generally require licensed contractors to secure bonds for large jobs.
Bonds may be classified as:
Contractor License Bonds
- Licensed contractors are required to have a contractor license bond of $12,500. This bond covers any project the contractor agrees to perform. Be aware: this bond is often not enough to cover multiple complaints made against it or your project if it's worth more than the value of the bond.
- Contract bonds guarantee both the completion of the job and payment for all labor and materials. In general, the bonding company will not have to pay more than the face amount of the bond. The cost of this bond is usually 1-2 percent of the contract price.
Blanket Performance and Payment Bonds
- By law, a contractor cannot ask for a down payment of more than 10% of the contract price on a home improvement project or $1,000, whichever is less. However, if the contractor has secured a "Blanket Performance and Payment Bond" on file with CSLB, which covers all outstanding contracts open at any one time, he/she can require the entire cost up-front. Only high-volume companies typically use this type bond equating to only about two-dozen licenses.
Coldwell Banker Concierge offers you access to hundreds of trusted service providers for any home improvement project. By certifying that all of its recommended service providers hold current licenses for the type of work they are offering Coldwell Banker Concierge takes the guesswork out of the process. Additionally, to ensure service providers deliver quality work Coldwell Banker Concierge relies heavily on references. Performance agreements are also signed with Concierge to maintain the highest standards of ethics and professionalism. To protect you from hefty insurance claims, Coldwell Banker Concierge pre-screens all service providers to confirm they hold proper workers’ compensation and commercial general liability insurance coverage.
Based on a through screening process, trust Coldwell Banker Concierge’s expertise to help you find the right contractor for your project.
If you are considering a home improvement project connect with a Concierge specialist today.
Content courtesy of CSLB.