Tips to Avoid Hiring Unlicensed Home Remodeling Contractors in California
Remodeling your home can be both exciting and stressful, especially if you don’t know where to start or have limited experience with the construction industry in general. California homeowners spend $56 million on home remodeling each month. However, many California homeowners make the costly mistake of hiring unlicensed home remodeling California contractors to complete their projects. The California Contractors State License Board estimates that there are more than 75,000 unlicensed home remodeling contractors operating in the state at any given time. This can be troublesome for homeowners looking to hire someone to work on their home, especially if they live in one of the many at-risk counties in California, where many of these unlicensed contractors are concentrated. I
Unlicensed home remodelers can put you and your family at risk in more ways than one, so it’s important to know what makes unlicensed home improvement contractors different from licensed ones and how to avoid them when looking for a home remodeling contractor in California. So, it’s essential to verify that your contractor has been issued the proper license before you sign any contracts or hand over any payment information. Generally, in California, contractors and subcontractors must be licensed by the state to do work on residential properties. If they aren’t, they are breaking the law and could be sued by their clients if their work causes problems or fails to meet building code standards.
However, home remodeling contractors may not always prominently display their licenses, making it easy to mistake an unlicensed contractor for a licensed one. Hiring an unlicensed contractor can be an expensive mistake that can cost you time, money, and even your health. How do you know if the contractor you’re thinking of hiring to help with your home remodeling in California is licensed? Keep these tips in mind to avoid hiring an unlicensed contractor when you need home remodeling services in your California home.
#1 Tip: Don’t Use Craigslist
When searching for a home renovation California contractor, don’t turn first to Craigslist. Though it might seem tempting because of its wide reach and low cost, people advertising their services are usually not licensed professionals. It’s also common for fake contractors to take money upfront but fail to finish jobs or do shoddy work. If you want things done right, go through licensed home remodeling California contractors who will be more likely to complete jobs on time and within budget (or at least hold them accountable if they don’t).
While there are some exceptions, most states require home remodelers to have licenses and those licenses must be renewed annually. Be sure your home remodeling California contractor has a current license, an expired one is often a sign that someone isn’t trustworthy or isn’t capable of doing quality work.
You can find out whether someone is licensed by checking with your state’s licensing board (often called the Department of Consumer Affairs or something similar) and local municipalities and city halls where applicable.
#2 Tip: Ask for References
When hiring home improvement contractors California, ask for at least three references from other homeowners. Don’t be afraid to call these people and ask questions like: How would you rate their performance? Would you use them again? Would you recommend them? The answers will help determine if they’re right for your project. A lot of unlicensed contractors are completely honest about their lack of certification. Some will even tell you they can get low-priced materials or charge less than licensed home remodeling companies in California would because they don’t have insurance, bonding, or training costs (that actually may be true). But what most unlicensed contractors don’t tell you is that they won’t cover any damages caused by them on your property. If something goes wrong during construction and it usually does- you could pay for all out-of-pocket repairs.
#3 Tip: Beware of Low Ball Estimates
If you were sitting across from a home remodeler California, he gave you two prices: one for $25,000 and another for $50,000. Which would you choose? In most cases, it’s common sense that consumers will usually go with what seems like a great deal—the lower price. But if you hire someone without proper licensing, it may cost you more in legal fees or even more work down the road. A licensed home remodeling California contractor has certain obligations they have to meet before they are allowed to operate their business. If something goes wrong after hiring an unlicensed contractor, homeowners have no recourse when trying to hold them accountable. Ensure a contractor is licensed and insured before signing anything on your house!
#4 Tip: Do the Research on Certifications
Home remodeling is a big job, and it’s critical you do your research before hiring an unlicensed contractor. First and foremost, it’s your money, so protect yourself by making sure any contractor you hire is licensed and bonded. The first thing to look for when hiring a custom home builders California is his or her license number from a professional organization. But some unscrupulous contractors use phony licenses. Instead of just checking for someone’s business license or insurance – check for other certification forms.
For example, if you’re looking at a general contractor, ask if he or she has experience with home additions. If they say yes but can’t prove that they’ve completed such projects in the past, consider another candidate. If you’re interested in hiring an electrician specializing in home theater installation, make sure he has proper certifications. It may seem like common sense, but these questions will help weed out those who aren’t serious about their work and ensure that whoever works in your home is qualified to do so safely and effectively.
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#5 Tip: Check the Contractor’s License Number Online
Another step is always to make sure that any remodeler you hire is licensed by your state’s Department of Consumer Affairs. You can check home remodeling contractor license numbers online or find yours by contacting your local government office. Look for home remodelers who are also listed on their state’s Builders Exchange website. Here, you can read reviews from past customers and see if any complaints have been filed against home renovation California contractors you’re considering hiring. This information can help steer you away from unlicensed companies that may be less likely to complete a job well.
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#6 Tip: Make Sure Your Contractor Has Insurance:
This one should go without saying, but home remodeling projects require a lot of tools and heavy equipment—and sometimes even workers inside your home. If something goes wrong (which it inevitably will), having insurance will protect you and your contractor from lawsuits. Also, make sure your contractor provides references. Many unlicensed home remodelers will claim they’ve worked for high-profile clients like celebrities or politicians—but what does that really mean? Ask potential contractors for at least three references, then call them up and ask about how long they’ve known each other, how many jobs they’ve done together over time, etc.
#7 Tip: Get It in Writing
Licensed home remodelers are required by law to put their license number on all business documents. If they don’t do that, they aren’t licensed. So get everything you sign in writing, including a price list and contracts. Verbal agreements can be hard to enforce later. All invoices should clearly state what work was done when it was done and how much it cost. Some other things to consider: Check references and make sure your contractor has insurance. A home improvement project can run into big money, so make sure your contractor is insured for liability against injuries or property damage.
Also, check with your homeowner’s insurance company to see if you need additional coverage for improvements made to your home. Remember there is no such thing as a standard contract for home improvement projects—make sure any contract includes specific details about who does what, when, and at what cost.
#8 Tip: Check Out Recent Claims and Read Reviews
Your best defense against hiring an unlicensed contractor is knowledge. Get a list of licensed contractors from your local Department of Consumer Affairs. Look them up on Yelp and read through recent claims (and their responses). Many contractors, once DCA has caught them, are quick to create new accounts under different names or even pay off Yelp reviewers, so don’t take reviews at face value. If you’re working with a prospective home remodeler in California that can’t supply proof of licensure with their DCA business registration number clearly displayed, it’s best not to hire them. Remember that consumers are protected by law and are entitled to recourse if something goes wrong during a home remodel project. Don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself!
If you are planning to hire a contractor for your home remodeling needs in California or surrounding areas, you can register at Homednb. We can connect you with the fully vetted home remodeling California contractor with a good track record of quality work to get the job done. So, what are you guys waiting for? Schedule a free consultation today, and let us find the fully licensed, insured, and bonded contractor for all your home design, build and remodel needs!