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What to Know When Hiring a Contractor

Updated: Jan 13, 2022

Given the amount of time and money involved, hiring the right contractor for your home build or remodel project, no matter the size of the job, is crucial.

As the homeowner, you can avoid much stress and strife by doing your due diligence to find a contractor who not only does great work but is also honest, professional, and dependable.

Whatever resources you use to compile a list of prospective contractors, and even if you get a referral from a friend or family member, it’s important that you do your own research.

The first step is to confirm that the contractor is currently licensed, has a physical business address and a business telephone number, and has worker’s compensation insurance for its employees. License, contact, and insurance information for California contractors can all be found at the Contractors State License Board website (

Next it’s key to obtain at least three bids for your project. Make sure each contractor is bidding on the same plans and scope of work so you have a common baseline from which to compare price, materials, and their grasp of the work involved. A word of caution if you receive a bid that is substantially lower than the others. What may seem on the surface to be a great deal could be a sign that the contractor is inexperienced or looking to cut corners or has excluded certain items from its bid.

Over the years we have seen arguments between the homeowner and the contractor that should never have taken place. A good contractor will make sure that you know what is going to be built or remodeled. What materials are to be use and how the project will proceed. This protects you and protects the Contractor. An experienced contractor knows that “kitchen cabinets” is not enough of a descriptive. The Contractor should be able to describe the cabinets with detail. Without knowing exactly what you are getting, disagreements in the future are certain.

It’s also important to ask each contractor for references. Talking to former clients gives you firsthand insight into each contractor’s personality, reliability, and how they conduct their day-to-day operations on the worksite. Look at pictures and maybe even go see a previous job.

Once you’ve decided on your contractor, they will formalize the agreement with a written contract.

Hiring a contractor can be a straightforward process if you apply a hands-on approach to finding the resources necessary for a business. However, the Labor Code provides that those subcontractors who don't adjust to the necessities of the law might produce unwanted employer-employee relationships. Hence, the workers of the non-conforming contractor are going to be deemed the workers of the shopper. This creates a risk whereby an organization hiring a contractor can become liable as an immediate leader of the subcontractor’s workers. Such liability extends to the payment of wages, observance of all labor standards, and payment of government-mandated regulators.

To avoid this risk, a start-up ought to hire freelance contractors who ahere to the these conditions:

1. The contractor carries on a business that is distinct and seperate from its client.

2. The contractor underneathtakes to perform the tasks or service on its own account and under its own responsibility.

3. The service is rendered per the subcontractor’s manner and methodology – free from the management and direction of the consumer (e.g., the start-up) all told matters connected with the performance of the work except on the results.

4. The contractor has substantial capital or investment.