Finding the Right Contractor
Your reputation is on the line. That is the case every time you hire a contractor for your clients. With Southern Californian attorneys and private watchdog services like Angie’s List looking to hammer negligent parties in the world of fraudulent and irresponsible contractors, you have to be ever on your guard and smart about finding the right contractor for the job.
And though many contractor are hard working, honest people, we must be honest and also admit that there are many who seek to make short cuts in projects in order to squeeze in an extra buck. And this has created a hostile environment for the honest people in this business. In an article by Business Journal:
“SB 800, which took effect Jan. 1, 2003, set the statute of limitations at ten years for most construction defect claims for new residences sold after the law was adopted. The legislation, which also gave builders and their subcontractors the right to fix a defect before a homeowner could sue, was actually meant to provide better protection to homebuilders and was supported by the California Building Industry Association.
“But the law has proven to be a gold mine for attorneys specializing in construction-defect litigation — and has driven a number of area homebuilders out of business.”
So, what should you look for in a creditable contractor?
The state of California regulates the construction industry through the Contractors State License Board, and has in place a number of laws that provide protection for project owners and managers. If a contractor is on the up-and-up, they will willingly advise you of your rights under California Law. As a matter of fact, per California Law they are required to do so. If they seem to lack adequate knowledge of this and/or seem as if they are withholding this information from you, this is the first sign that you may want to shop elsewhere.
The contractor you choose must be licensed and qualified to do the job you require, period. If you hire a contractor that is unlicensed or unqualified for the job at hand, this can have very detrimental and costly consequences that will come back to haunt you. Even if you manage to win a lawsuit against them, at the end of the day you may end up holding the bill. Among these aspects, every contractor should be willing to sign a contract that guarantees their work. If they are not willing to sign a contract, this is definitely a red flag.
Home improvement contracts are codified in Section 7159 of the California Business and Profession Code. One must realize that the term home improvement has a very broad meaning and includes remodeling, repairing, and altering a residential property. Besides relating to the actual home itself, it also entails:
- Pools and Spas
Therefore, the term home improvement encompasses any work that was not specifically listed within the law. The law also states that in order for a contract to meet the terms of home improvement the project must exceed more than $500.
Now that may seem like a lot of information and we haven’t even gotten started on how to choose the right contractor, but these small matters are often overlooked by mistake and can cause major issues down the line. Any contractor you want to hire or refer to a client should be aware of these basic aspects of construction legislation and regulations in the state of California before you even consider them.
Trust your gut when dealing with a contractor. In an article done by Popular Mechanics on this very topics, Tony LaPelusa, president of LaPelusa Home Improvements, Inc., in Niles, Ill., and past president of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry said:
“”The biggest thing is choosing the right contractor,’ he explains. ‘If somebody says something that’s even an embellishment, it’s enough of a reason not to trust him and move on to the next contractor. You have to trust the contractor 100 percent, not 95 percent.’”
Cross reference and investigate the potential contractor. There is nothing wrong with asking for references and locations of their previous projects. Your clients trust that if you are referring them a contractor that you have done your homework so that it saves them the time and hassle. Don’t always trust their project photo portfolio. Usually project photos were taken right after the job was finished, so of course it will look good. The question is: How does it look 5 or 10 years down the line. Time is the true test of quality work.
Choose local Southern California contractors. This insures that it will be easy to track down references, past and present projects. Not only that, but it is always good practice to use contractors who are well established locally. They are concerned for their reputation and are well knowledgeable of Californian building codes and construction laws.
Price isn’t everything when choosing a contractor. Yea, people like to look for that lowest bid, but sometimes a low bid can equal low quality and bad service. The old adage “You get what you pay for” rings true in the world of construction.