Renovating Your Home? Hire a Licensed Contractor and Have a Contract

When deciding to hire someone to do small renovations or major construction at your home, you should always carefully select who you choose to be your contractor. The Contractors State License Board (CSLB), a part of the Department of Consumer Affairs, approves and issues contractors’ licenses. The law requires contractors to be licensed so that homeowners are protected from individuals without the requisite credentials from providing you with contracting services. Pursuant to California Business and Professions Code section 7028, it is a misdemeanor for a person to engage in the business or act in the capacity of a contractor within this state without having a license.  Any job totaling $500 or more, the individual is required to have a California contractor license.

Aside from hiring a licensed professional, hiring a licensed contractor can also protect you from future legal issues. For instance, the law requires your licensed contractor to have Workers’ Compensation Insurance to hire other employees for your construction job. Otherwise, you can be liable for injuries on the job. Importantly, to avoid mechanic’s liens from sub-contractors, you should make all payments to both the general contractor and sub-contractor or directly to the sub-contractor to ensure that the sub-contractor is paid to avoid future liability.

Make sure after you have hired a licensed contractor you have a detailed contract which lays out the terms of your agreement. You should ensure that all terms are committed to writing and describe important aspects such as the down payment, provisions related to cancellation of the contract, permits and more. If you choose to change aspects of your original contract, you should execute written change orders to provide changes to the initial agreement.  Make sure that these are in writing and signed by you and your contractor.

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