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Homeowners Beware!

From the Desk of Tony Falco

When it comes to home improvements, maintenance, and remodeling some of us are not handy. 

While others are very handy, however there just is not enough time in the day to get the task(s) done. So sometimes it is easier to pay someone else to do it, like a Contractor.  While this might be reasonable and in most cases work out, there are some unfortunate people that get taken advantage of.   

How do you know if the Contractor you chose is the right contractor for the job?

Here are a few steps to help. Be careful choosing a handyman, it is recommended to use a licensed, trustworthy Contractor.

The first and most important thing when hiring a contractor, make sure he/she is a licensed Contractor by the State of California. A Licensed Contractor must first take a test on State guidelines and laws for general contractor procedures. If they pass this test they get a license. Also, a licensed contractor has to provide a state mandated warranty on the parts he/she installed for one year. To verify that the license belongs to the specified contractor or hasn’t been suspended, you can log on to this page on the California Contractors State License Board. Type the number in the designated area to verify.  When verifying the license, make sure the holder of the license is the name of the person doing your job.  Make sure it is not a relative or in-law, it needs to be the person performing the work.  (For larger corporations, the CEO, would be the license holder).

Make sure the license is valid in California. Many contractors hold licenses in other states. Other states guidelines differ on certain laws and regulations in regards to construction. It needs to be a California state contractor’s License.

Another important step is to verify–make sure the contractor is bonded and insured. Sometimes mistakes can happen that cause a lot of damage to your home. If he/she is bonded/insured and a mistake occurs he/she is insured to cover the accidental damages.

Before signing any contract or agreement, be sure to fully read and review the contract, ask what you are signing. Look to see if the License # is on the contract and matches the number that you researched. Be sure that everything you and the contractor talked about is on the contract and start and completion dates are listed.

Do not pay any money to the contractor for materials before-hand, a good contractor will provide his/her own materials to complete the job. Some contractors may ask to collect a percentage of the costs or a credit card number for larger jobs prior to starting. Be sure the money paid up front will come off the final bill and only pay what is requested after the first start date to ensure work gets done. It is a law that in the State of California a contractor can only collect 10% of the job cost prior to starting. DO NOT pay more than that.

Handyman are not recommended because most handyman are not licensed. A handyman is a person who basically is a jack-of-all-trade’s. Meaning they can do everything. And they will for the cheapest price using improper application, causing you trouble down the road. For example, some handyman or contractors will say, I can install your marble counter top, when they only do cabinets.  Chances are they have only assisted tile installers on a job site in the past but have never performed the task on their own. This could result poorly and be costly.  However, most contractors specialize in certain trades only to ensure your marble counter top is installed properly and cabinets installed correctly. Be sure whoever you choose for improvements on your home is thorough in explaining and showing you each step they will perform prior to starting work on your home.

These days money is precious and very hard earned. Protect your money and your home by making sure the contractor you choose is license, can be trusted and has experience.

Sincerely,
Tony Falco, CR