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Tips for Hiring a Contractor

Hiring a contractor is a major decision. The person that you choose to work with will not only make major changes to your home, but he or she will also be in your home quite a great deal. In many ways, hiring a contractor is one of the more weighty decisions you can make. Therefore, it's important that you go into the process of choosing a contractor prepared.

The first thing to remember when hiring a contractor is that it is a good idea to shop around. Although the first person you meet might impress you, it's always good to have a point of reference. Talk to neighbors, friends, and colleagues to see if they have any personal recommendations, too. Make sure that you're getting written proposals from every contractor that you meet with so that you may compare the bids side by side.

Contractors must be licensed in order to perform work in your home. Did you know that all reputable and licensed contractors must display their contractor state license number on all advertisements? That means that anytime a contractors name appears on a flyer, on their own truck, or in the newspaper, they must have a license number on the advertisement. You can double check that a contractor's license number is what he or she says it is by calling 1-800-321-CSLB.

Beyond verifying the legitimacy of the contractor's license number, you should also verify that he or she actually works at the location that he or she claims to. This process is all about vetting the person that you are working with to make absolutely sure that he or she is a reputable, honest, and hardworking contractor. Verifying that the listing information that the contractor provides is accurate is an important step in this process.

You should also confirm and verify the liability insurance coverage used by the contractor for worker's compensation and commercial. The contractor should be able to provide you with a Certificate of Insurance. If he or she cannot provide you with a certificate, you must do your due diligence and call the contractor's insurance company directly to verify that insurance exists.

If you are going to be working with contractors, it's a good idea to have some background knowledge about what is called “contractor bonds”. Contractor bonds are intended to protect you, the client, from work that is substandard and fails to meet building codes. Many states require contractors to have a contractor license bond. Although contractor bonds protect you and provide compensation for negligent work, they do not guarantee that a contractor is reputable or has integrity.

There are two types of these bonds: contractor license bonds and contract bonds. Contractor license bonds are a requirement for contractors and are worth up to $12,500. The bond covers projects that the contractor works on. Contract bonds, on the other hand, are specific to a job and cover completion of the job and payment for labor. The cost of a contract bond is typically somewhere in the range of one or two percent of the entire job.