A reader: I need a new fence. How do I go about finding a good contractor?
Action Line: You have started in the right place. Contractors State License Board states “a fencing contractor constructs, erects, alters, or repairs all types of fences, corrals, runs, railings, cribs, game court enclosures, guard rails and barriers, playground game equipment, backstops, posts, flagpoles, and gates, excluding masonry walls.” They must have a contractor’s license with a classification, C-13, when any labor AND materials exceeds $500. Ask questions, research and find out what to do next. Pick a few companies that you think would be good to do business with and then before you call them for an estimate:
▪ Check out the business review of the company at bbb.org If you are not sure who to call, use the BBB Request A Quote program. It’s free. Again just go to the BBB website.
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▪ Obtain at least three written estimates.
▪ Before signing a contract, OBTAIN IN WRITING: start/completion dates; description of the work; payment schedules; materials to be installed; promises/guarantees on workmanship; and manufacturer’s guarantees. Be sure everything you will be paying for is in the contract.
▪ You are only required to pay 10% or $1,000, whichever is less, for a deposit of the work to be done.
▪ It is customary for some companies to file preliminary lien notices. Don’t panic. Check with the supplier to see if they have been paid by the contractor to avoid a lien being placed on your home and you having to pay twice.
▪ Be aware that California law limits the period within which a complaint may be filed against a contractor to three years from the date when the act or omission occurred.
▪ Do not sign off on a completed job until all the work has been properly completed.
▪ You may wish to obtain the brochure out by the Contractor’s State License Board called “What You Should Know Before You Hire A Contractor” or visit their website at www.cslb.ca.gov/. You can also visit the BBB for more tips.
BBB also has a complaint process and it is free. You can file a complaint with the BBB and/or the California Contractor’s State License Board. Any contracting work costing more than $500 requires a contractor’s license in California and just because a license number is listed on the flier doesn’t mean it is legitimate, so make sure you check it out.
You can also notify your local district attorney and your local police department if a crime is committed.
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.