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How to Hire a Contractor
by Barbara Jennings

Important Tips Regarding CSLB Contractors
Here is a list of 10 things you should require of any contractor you consider hiring:
  1. Their name, address, telephone number, contractor license number and insurance information. Get copies of the licence and insurance; don't just ask them if they have it.
  2. Written proposals should include: brand names, sizes, quantities, styles, types of products and materials, description of labor, all costs associated with proposal. Written proposals allow you to compare products and quality. Never accept anything written on a business card, scrap of paper, brochure or verbally. You cannot compare bids this way and they know it. Make sure all proposals are based on the same set of specifications. You can't compare "apples" with "oranges".

    If there are price differences, make sure you understand the reasons. Higher priced products will require a higher bid. Beware of offers that seem too good to be true. The contractor may not be disclosing all of the costs or planning to take shortcuts, both of which are detrimental to you. Make sure you get formal bids and make sure the bid states that there will be no hidden charges.
  3. Request copies of all warranties from the manufacturers used.
  4. Get a set of all manufacturers' brochures and sales literature. Compare their literature with the information in the bid.
  5. Contractors must be licensed for the category they are bidding on. Be sure your contractor is properly licensed for each aspect of the project.
  6. Get copies of the license and up-to-date insurance information. Make sure all numbers and names match on all the literature, proposals and actual contracts. Compare this with information at the Contractors State License Board. All of this information must be on file. They are required to have all the correct information on all of their literature and contracts. Make sure it matches.
  7. Verify this information online at CSLB if you are in California. If you are in another state, you'll have to check with your State government for contact information.
  8. Don't let anyone pressure you into signing a contract to get a special discount or other incentive. If the contractor is legitimate, they'll be happy to give you at least a week.
  9. Make sure the contractor has been in business for at least 5 or more years. Verify all this with the licensing board.
  10. Ask for a list of at least 15 local references.
  11. Try to deal with a local contractor. You want the project to be as convenient for you as for them.

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(2004-05 Copyright Barbara Jennings)

Barbara Jennings
is the West Coast Pioneer in Redesign, author of 7 decorating books, a published artist, corporate art consultant, and furniture arrangement consultant. For training in professional furniture and accessory arrangement, or to start your own redesign or art consulting business, please visit: www.decorate-redecorate.com