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10 Questions To Ask When Choosing Your Contractor

Here are some questions you should ask prospective contractors before you even let them in your house.

  • 1. Are you licensed by the California State License Board?
    All contractors in the State of California by law must be licensed. Make the Contractor show you the license or give you a copy of it. This is for your protection. So if they aren't licensed, don't hire them!
  • 2. Do you have general liability insurance, and how much?
    Make 100% sure that your contractor carries general liability insurance. This will protect you in case your property is damaged by the contractor or his employees. Again, make the contractor show you. They need to provide you with a copy of their certificate of insurance.
  • 3. Do you carry worker's compensation insurance?
    It is also important that your contractor carries workers compensation insurance. this will protect you from liability if a worker is injured while on your property. All subcontractors used should be covered as well. Remember, if you use an uninsured contractor and they get hurt on your property, you may have to pay their medical bills.
  • 4. Will you provide me with a written lien waiver?
    At the end of the job your contractor should provide you with a written lien waiver. This is a legal document saying you have paid the contractor in full and waives their right to place a mechanics lien on your property.
  • 5. Will you pull all the required permits?
    Your contractor should pull all required permits. This insures that all work will be done correctly and to code. The time and hassle involved in pulling the permits is minimal compared to the problems you could encounter doing unpermitted work. On top of the safety issues, you could also have trouble with your insurance coverage and future sale of property.
  • 6. Do you guarantee your work?
    Your contractor should guarantee their work for at least one year from the date of completion. Things do happen, but a good contractor will always stand by their workmanship.
  • 7. Will you provide references?
    A good contractor leaves their customers happy, so they shouldn't have any problem giving you several customer references from the last year. Take the time to call and go see some of the completed projects if possible.
  • 8. Who will be in charge of the work?
    The contractor or a foreman should be on the job site daily. You are putting your home in their hands and they should be constantly aware of the situation. They know how each piece if the project interrelates and are responsible in making sure the jobs flow seamlessly. Before the job starts make sure you meet the person in charge and that you are comfortable with them.
  • 9. What do you do to provide clean work environment?
    Construction is just plain messy by nature. Dust and debris can get everywhere. Find out what your contractor will do to contain the dust as best as possible. Also make sure there are clearly established entry and exit points so workers don't track in dirt in areas where they shouldn't be.
  • 10. Will you provide written time and cost estimates?
    Before work starts you should have a written cost and time estimates in hand. Two of the most common complaints about construction projects are that they went over budget and took forever to finish. Without a detailed cost estimate and daily schedule there is no way for you to monitor the status of your project.