Here are some tips on how to go about hiring a contractor who you can trust.
Find a Contractor You Can Trust
- Ask Around. Online references and reviews can be helpful but they aren't always
accurate. Who's to say if the comments are posted by honest customers
or a contractor's friends a family? The best references are people who
have had work done by a contractor in the past five years. Know any
friends or neighbors who have had recent remodels? Ask them about the
pros and cons of the contractors they have used. Honest word of
mouth, from people you trust, is a valuable resource.
- Verify Their State License.
Once you've narrowed the prospective field to a few companies, make sure you're getting bids from licensed contractors. Verify they are listed on the California Contractor's State License Board website. This will give you information regarding their
license and whether it is active or expired. It is best to check by license number, as names can be similar. Most
contractors display their license number on their business
card. If not, just ask for it.
- Investigate their Professional Complaint History. Always check with two
agencies: The Better Business Bureau
and the California Attorney General's Office to see if any complaints
have been filed. This might take a little time and effort on your
part but it's much better than finding out the hard way when you are filing the complaints!
- Examine Their Work.
Ask for lists of recent and current projects so you can take a look. If
the contractor has current jobs it can be a good idea to see their work
in action. Ask for a list of subcontractors they use and
call around to get references from the individuals your contractor
employs. This can be another way to gain insight into the
contractor's work ethic, and to see if they have long-standing
relationships with their subs. If the concrete sub says, "Yeah, I'm the
fifth company he's used in 2 years..." it's not a good sign.
- Trust Your Instincts. Don't dismiss your gut instincts. If a contractor comes highly praised but you don't get a good feeling during your initial interviews, do not hire him/her. Or, perhaps a contractor is lesser known in the community but you like his/her work and feel confident about how they communicate - then honor that.