What are some tips for finding a reputable and honest contractor?
First of all, ask friends, family and neighbors for a referral. If you can’t get a word of mouth referral, check with a referral service that does a background check on the contractor. This ensures that the contractor has a clean record and has all the required licenses and insurance. You should interview at least two contractors for a small project and at least three for a larger project. Having a set of plans is helpful, but if you are not at that stage of the project, than having a basic drawing with ideas and pictures is very useful to the contractor when he is putting together your bid.
Once you have received three bids, look over each one and make sure it includes everything that you would like completed. Often, contractors will start with a low bid and then hit you with extras later. It is also a good idea to call 2 or 3 of the contractors past clients for a referral.
Finally, ask yourself if you feel comfortable with this person. A contractor and his crew may be in your house for weeks (if not months) and you need to make sure you are hiring someone that is going to treat your home and family with as much care and respect as you do. Choosing the contractor solely based on price, will often cost you more in the long run, and simply bring agony.
Serving Santa Clarita, Los Angeles and surrounding areas including:
What kind of insurance/licensing should I check before hiring a contractor?
Before checking anything else, make sure that the prospective contractor has a license AND that is in good standing with the California State License Board here. Just having a license number is not enough.
Secondly, make sure that their bond is current and that they have workman’s comp. All this info can be obtained through the CSLB website. Many contractors today do not have workman’s comp insurance, and, to get away with that legally they have what is called an “exemption” on file with the state. The exemption states that they have no employees working for them. This may be the case, but while interviewing them make sure if they have employees that they DO have proper worker’s comp.
Another thing to verify is that they have “General Liability” insurance. Many contractors will advertise that they are “insured”, but often this means that they have a bond. All contractors must have a bond to have a valid license, but general liability insurance is not required by law. If they have a general liability policy, they will be happy to show you proof.
A bond only protects you the homeowner for $12,500 and it is often a lengthy process to retrieve any funds.
General Liability insurance is generally at least $1 million in coverage and protects you the homeowner against any losses or faulty workmanship.
The last thing to check for when hiring a contractor (and this applies mostly to those whose homes were built before 1978), is his EPA certification. Does he have this? As of 2010, all contractors renovating homes built before 1978, must be certified with the EPA for proper lead paint removal. This does not just apply to painters. If you have an older home, your contractor should present to you a brochure that explains lead paint and its dangers as well as a certification card with his picture and EPA certification number.
How long have you been in business and what kind of work do you do?
We have been licensed since 1995. Our president, Bill Grijalva, has been in the construction trade since 1989. We specialize in room additions, kitchen and bath remodeling, patio covers and decks, window and door replacement, interior finish carpentry, disability retrofitting and many other carpentry related task. We have completed thousands of jobs across the Santa Clarita Valley, Los Angeles City and County, San Gabriel Valley and parts of Ventura. We have a wide range of knowledge and experience to draw from and can complete a project at any stage, big or small, from the very beginning to the very end.
Do you only do residential work?
No, we can also do tenant improvement, multi-family units and municipalities. For example we have remodeled offices, schools, retail stores, repaired fences and decks at apartment complexes and built gazebos for parks.
Can you tell me more about your ability to do disability retrofitting?
We build and install custom wheelchair ramps, install grab bars, widen doorways for wheelchair accessibility, install sinks in bathroom and kitchens to be wheelchair accessible and safe, install wheelchair friendly bathtubs/showers. Whatever home modification would make your life easier and safer as a disabled person, we can help you.
What can we expect when we call you?
First off, we will schedule a time to come and meet you and go over your ideas. Our president and founder, Bill Grijalva, will listen to your ideas and then give you feedback and possible suggestions/advice he may have. If you have a set of plans, he will go over them and then submit a bid to you, usually within 1-2 weeks, depending on the size of the project and how much time he needs to spend looking over your plans and sharing them with his subcontractors. If you do not have plans, than he will base your estimate on past experience, but the figures will be more of a “ballpark”. If the job is small and does not require plans then he will have a bid to you usually within a few days. If a job requires plans and you do not have them, than Bill can help you work with his architect to obtain those plans. Keep in mind that if you hire a contractor to include the price of the plans in the job, than you have eliminated the ability to give those plans to other contractors for more bids. We don’t like to limit your choices. Once you have a set of plans that you have paid for, then you are not committed to any one company and it keeps your options open. One last note, this entire process is done free of charge. You only pay us, if you hire us.
Can you offer any other final suggestions for hiring the best contractor?
One of the most important things, besides experience and knowledge, is to make sure your contractor is a good communicator. Home improvement projects can be very stressful and the last thing a homeowner needs is to be in the dark(literally and figuratively). Make sure you hire someone that will call you when he is late or won’t be showing up at all, and someone who will let you know ahead of time if there are extras or unforeseen conditions. What we have learned from our homeowners over the years is that leaving them uninformed is one of the biggest stresses and frustrations of all.
Get more FAQ information at the California State License Board FAQ page here.
Office Phone: 661.299.4767
Mobile Phone: 661.803.9811