The state of California has been regulating the construction industry and licensing contractors since 1929. At the moment, the Contractors State License Board (CSLB) licenses about 290,000 contractors in 44 different classifications. With so many contractors to choose from, it can be difficult for property owners to find just the right company for the desired construction project. Whether you are looking to build new, restore, or renovate, there are several ways to ensuring you hire the most appropriate contractor for your project.
Oddly enough, there are no educational requirements for an individual to obtain a contractor’s license in California. However, contractors are required to have at least four years journey-level or foreman experience in the appropriate classification.
Upon obtaining this experience, California contractors should have the skills necessary to manage the everyday operation and field supervision of construction companies.
The state of California assigns classes to the various types of contractors that must be licensed. It is recommended that you not only clearly define the work you want doing, but you should also be sure that your contractor is licensed in the appropriate classification for your project.
These classes range from general contractors to painters, electricians, and masons. General contractors generally oversee projects that require subcontractors to complete specialty work for which they are licensed to complete.
As of January 1, 2016, a Contractor’s Bond or cash deposit of $15,000 must be received by the CSLB in order to obtain, maintain, and renew a license. These requirements were implemented for the consumer’s benefit in cases where damages are caused by the work.
California requires every contractor to purchase and maintain a surety bond through a state-licensed surety company and failure to maintain this bond results in a suspension of the license and bars the contractor from performing any work.
Not all buildings are created equally and this can lead to problems if your contractor is inexperienced or unlicensed for your desired project. Some cities may not allow you to add a second story to your office building. Swimming pools may not be permitted in your neighborhood.
Property owners are usually unaware of what they can and cannot do when it comes to buildings, renovations, and repairs. Luckily, a worthwhile contractor will already know where your property lies in regards to local zoning regulations and will be sure to obtain all the permits necessary to keeping your project legal.
If your building project is worth more than $500 in materials and labor costs, then your contractor is required to enter into a written, legible, and easy-to-understand contract with you. This contract must clearly define what is to be done, how it is to be done, and when it will be completed. It must also outline the materials and costs associated with the project.
The CSLB highly recommends that customers not only get everything in writing, but that they do not sign it until they fully understand and agree with the contract. You should also be sure to update the contract as needed and make sure all of the financial terms are clear.
Most property owners know someone that has had projects similar to their own completed by local construction companies. The word of family and friends can go a long way to finding the best contractor for your desired project.
Then again, the industry itself can also be very useful. Aside from past customers, the Better Business Bureau, countless online review sites, and local suppliers will offer a wealth of information about the contractors you may consider hiring.
Finding suitable contractors for building projects may seem like a lot of wasted time because a large majority of construction companies are legitimately good at what they do. On the other hand, however, there are unlicensed and uninsured contractors out there that will put your finances, and even your safety, in danger. Do your homework and you are less likely to be scammed by a less-than-reputable construction company.