Northside SF
Around the House with Julia
Choosing a contractor

When you have a leaky faucet, broken toilet, failed water heater, or other type of home repair, who do you call? You should call a licensed professional contractor with a great reputation and qualifications. It should also be a company or someone you are comfortable with because they will be entering your home. Although attempting a do-it-yourself project such as painting a room can be fun, hiring a skilled professional for larger jobs is often preferable.

Before engaging the services of a contractor for any type of service, consider the following points to protect yourself and your home:

1. Is the contractor currently licensed in the state of California with the Contractors State License Board (CSLB)? Visit to check.

2. Is the contractor insured? All contractors licensed in California must be bonded and insured for liability. If you are considering hiring a licensed contractor, you have the right to ask for a copy of the contractor’s insurance policy.

3. Does the contractor have Workers’ Compensation insurance in case an employee is injured while on the job? Once again, you can ask for a copy of the insurance policy.

4. Does the company have a website? Is there information on the site about their insurance? About the company? About their employees?

5. How long has the company been in business? What is their specialty?

6. How do they charge (bid or hourly) for work completed? What form of payment is accepted (cash, check, credit card, terms)?

7. Who will perform the work on your home? Are these individuals qualified? Are they at least of journeyman level? Who will supervise the work?

8. Is the company a member of the Better Business Bureau? All companies are now graded, so check them out online at

9. Ask for references of recently completed projects.

10. If your contractor does not have the specific parts in his or her service truck to complete the job, will you be charged drive time for picking up the parts? A well-stocked service truck is a real plus.

11.  Is a permit required for your job? Is it included in the bid or will the permit fee be in addition to the work?

12.  How long will it take for the company to come out to your home? Time windows are usually given, and professional companies will call when they are on their way.

13. What about a warranty on items such as water heaters or on the work performed? Is it in writing? How long is the warranty valid?

14.  Will the contactor give you a firm quote in writing of the work to be performed? (An open-ended job with no set price can be a prescription for future problems.)

15. When considering engaging the services of a contractor, you have a three-day right to cancel the job. This clause is known as a “cooling-off period.” A consumer can waive this right so the work can start immediately, but this waiver must be in writing.

These points are for your protection. It is always best to hire a contractor who engages in good business practices and achieves your complete satisfaction at a fair price.


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