A reader: My husband and I have lived in our house for nearly 30 years and have not updated the kitchen since. I’m really ready for a change. My husband doesn’t know it yet but this is going to be a total gut job. I want new everything. I have not hired anyone to do work in my home for so long, I’m not sure how to get started. Could you offer some advice on how to get started?
Action Line: How exciting for you (hope your husband goes along with it)!! According to the Contractors State Licensing Board (CSLB), it is illegal for an unlicensed person to perform contracting work on any project for which the combined price of labor and materials is $500 or more. You need a licensed contractor to perform the work and check the validity of the license before you hire them. While bids from unlicensed contractors will more than likely be lower, the lowest price is not the best price. In most circumstances, unlicensed contractors offer lower quotes because they do not pay a licensing fee, or obtain a bond to protect their work, and in many cases, don’t purchase liability or workers compensation insurance. Without these expenses, the unlicensed contractor can offer a lower rate.
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Then do some comparative shopping. Check out the contractors with BBB and CSLB. Get prices in writing. Make sure the contract includes a description of the work that you want done, the materials that will be used, and the total cost as well as who is responsible for the proper permits being pulled. Any bid should also include the start date, when retention payments are due and the completion date. Don’t forget to ask for references and actually talk to previous customers and view projects that they have done.
NEVER, EVER in any condition, pay cash. Do not pay more than 10% of the project or $1,000, whichever is less. Again, make sure the contract specifies the dates and payment amounts for the retention payments of the project. Do not pay in advance of the retention schedule, no matter what! Do your homework before you sign ANYTHING.
There are good, honest contractors out there that will give you a fair price for quality work. Remember, the cheapest price is not always the best price. And if you’re still not sure who to call, you can try our free Request A Quote. We can actually connect you with businesses that have been vetted by BBB.
The most important thing for a homeowner to remember is to protect themselves and their assets, which is why it’s so important to hire a licensed professional. To find a licensed and accredited contractor, go to www.bbb.or/ccie
Remember, BBB is not just for finding reputable companies to remodel your kitchen, please use our resources for all of your marketplace needs.
Action Line is written by Blair Looney, president and CEO for the Better Business Bureau serving Central California. Send your consumer concerns, questions and problems to Action Line at the Better Business Bureau, 2600 W. Shaw Lane, Fresno, CA 93711 or firstname.lastname@example.org.