Give Bad Contractors the Cold Shoulder This Winter
State Offers Free Consumer Information for Homeowners Hiring Contractors
SACRAMENTO — The race is on for Californians getting their homes in shape for the winter season with new roofs, insulation, outdoor lighting, gutter clearing, weather stripping, chimney maintenance and more. With one of the busiest times for home improvement right around the corner, the California Contractors State License Board (CSLB) is urging homeowners to give unscrupulous contractors the cold shoulder this winter.
"Whether getting ready for cold weather or the first holiday guests, home improvement projects this time of year come with added stress," said Contractors State License Board Registrar Stephen P. Sands. "It's more important than ever that homeowners exercise their rights when hiring and managing contractors."
Building contractors who perform work on a project priced $500 or more (including labor and materials) must be licensed by the CSLB. This could include such common winter home improvement projects as:
- Caulking and weather stripping windows and doors
- Installing storm windows
- Roof repair or replacement
- Outdoor electrical work
- Adding or cleaning rain gutters
- Landscape drainage projects
- Heater replacement or maintenance, and cleaning heater ducts
- Painting, carpet cleaning and other quick spruce ups for holiday guests
CSLB has just produced a new consumer guide, Tips for Hiring a Roofing Contractor: A Consumer's Rights and Responsibilities. This informative pamphlet gives consumers the basics on repairing vs. replacing their roof and how to responsibly manage a roofing project. This and other common sense consumer guides are available free of charge on CSLB's Web site, www.cslb.ca.gov.
The CSLB urges all consumers to follow these tips before proceeding with any remodeling job:
- Get the contractor's license number and contact the CSLB online at www.cslb.ca.gov to determine if the license is valid, current and active.
- Read CSLB's free publications, What you Should Know Before You Hire a Contractor and the Home Improvement Bill of Rights at www.cslb.ca.gov.
- Get at least three bids and check references.
- Insist on a written contract. Write specific descriptions of the work and materials to be used.
- Pay only 10 percent or $1,000 as a down payment, whichever is less.
- Do not pay cash, and do not let the payments get ahead of the work.
"Homeowners have rights - but also responsibilities - when it comes to hiring and managing a building contractor. Most of the problems we see can be prevented if consumers simply do a little home improvement homework before selecting a contractor," concluded Sands.
The Contractors State License Board, which operates under the umbrella of the California Department of Consumer Affairs, licenses and regulates California's 278,000 licensed contractors.
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