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Finding and Choosing a Contractor
Please note: this page contains reviews and opinions sent in by Berkeley Parents Network subscribers. Your own experience may be different. Please always check references first!
We are working with an architect now to design an outdoor porch, remodel our kitchen and add on a room. We would like to find and hire an builder to work with the architect during the design phase so we can determine the most cost efficient way to do various things. What I am wondering is how much time will it take to find a contractor and how far in advance do they typically book projects. Is now too early to book a contractor if we would like to start construction in fall of 2008? Anon
Recommendations have been made here for a few general contractors working in the East Bay. I got bids from a couple of them but while the bids were all substantially lower than others none of them had legitimate workman's comp insurance. They all claimed to have it but when I asked to see documentation it turned out to ''have expired the month before'' or some other excuse. Another had a large liability policy but even that would not provide compensation for a worker who became disabled. Make sure any contractor lists their employees on the State Contractors Board website. If they claim no employees there they are probably lying or exclusively using subcontractors which would make them very expensive (not inexpensive) I didn't want to risk my house!
Our contractor is charging us a 20% contracting fee when he brings in a subcontractor (plummer, electrician). Is this standard? Thanks, jen
Reading the post about problems with a ''contractor'' who had been recommended, I'd like to say a few words about Contractors, & ''contractors'' (I'm a Contractor myself).
A ''contractor'' is only a Contractor if they are licensed by the State of California Contractors License Board. A properly Licensed Contractor (LC) is required by law to give you a written proposal & contract with a full job description, any terms & conditions, & dates of work. It also must include specific legal language that protect both the homeowner & the Contractor. To become a LC, you must have proven experience in your field, & pass written tests on contract law & your own specific trade. An LC is also likely to have Liability & Workers Comp Insurance. Anyone who does a job of $500. or more is required by law to have a Contractor's License.
Many people present themselves as contractors who are not licensed. Homeowners may be attracted to these people because they think they will get a better deal, which is not neccesarily so. As the poster said, she is now having to pay someone else to fix the bad job she already paid for. The great majority of LC's give a warranty on their work. Plenty of the unlicensed people charge as much as LC's, they're just pocketing more profit since they aren't paying insurance costs, payroll costs, & maybe not even taxes.
What looks like a bargain isn't necessarily a bargain! Not all LC's are good, or even honest, but if you have a proper legal contract, that is quite specific with little room for misunderstandings, you have legal remedies if there are problems (so does the contractor if she/he does the proper job and you don't pay for it). Never trust anyone who tries to rush you into a project, & have as much discussion as needed to be sure that you understand exactly what is to be done & with what materials before you sign anything and/or put down a deposit. Cecelia
I would encourage everyone to be very careful about hiring people who are not licensed, bonded, and insured. If they mess up your house (break your window, disappear in the middle of the project, etc.), you have little or no recourse. Finally, the state contractor's license board has an 800 number you can call and punch in the contractor's license number to check if there are any complaints or actions on a certain contractor (ANY type of contractor: general, earthquake retrofitters, painters, landscapers, etc). I think this is a good idea. Laura Beth
They are a certified independent company that rates over 250,000 local services and professional companies from accupuncture to wireless services.
Their website says: Pick the best one for your needs. Check the status of a company, how the ratings are performed, answers to most asked questions, a comparison with the Better Business Bureau and yellow pages. Trish
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