Storm Damage? Don't Get Scammed
Always use a licensed contractor. I know that’s hard right now in the Bay Area because licensed contractors are very busy. This is the MOST IMPORTANT thing you can do: check the contractor’s license here:
Get three quotes
Always. For any work you have done to your building. Don’t overpay. I KNOW you want the storm damage fixed yesterday, but remember, if the work is done wrong it will have to be done over. And unlicensed contractors can further damage your home.
There are more than one type of contractor’s licenses. For example, license A is a General Engineering Contractor, B is a General Building Contractor, etc. You may search this site by zip code and specialty that you need to locate licensed contractors near your job.
Get a Written Contract
Always have a written contract that includes everything being done. If there are change orders (expect them) get it in writing. Carefully read every word in the contract before signing. Ask questions about anything you don’t understand.
The contract MUST include a complete and thorough description of all anticipated work to be performed by the contractor.
Payment terms included. Insist on a complete written receipt after all payments.
California Law: Don’t pay more that $1,000 or 10%, whichever is less, when the contract is signed.
Also have a timeline of when work will be done and completed. This should include milestone payments when a specific amount of work has been successfully completed by a certain date. You don’t want this work to drag on until next year. You may consider putting a no-fee cancellation clause if your contractor drags your job on past milestones. Remember, things come up in construction that often, legitimately delay completion. You will have a much better outcome by working these things peacefully and pleasantly with your contractor.
Insurance is key. Get your name included as additionally insured on the contractors policy and have that page attached to the contract. This is a common industry policy. We do this on every job when requested. Immediately with no drama. If a contractor does not have insurance then if things go wrong you are left to repair the damage and possibly pay his workers. If you can’t get a dec sheet showing your name and property address, find another contractor.
Expect change orders. Expect those change orders to have a complete description of the changes you are expected to pay for and a timeline for completion. Both you and the contractor should sign those changes orders. Be sure to keep a copy. Use your phone and take a photo onsite, if necessary.
Avoid substandard workmanship. The original contract should have some type of guarantee or warranty. Ask questions if you do not see this language.
Cancellation Clause. Again, how much is the contractor going to be paid if you cancel the contract. Be sure to get everything in writing.
By following these steps you can eliminate alot of shoddy work, legal issues, frustration and not getting your money’s worth in repairs.
Dealing With Asbestos, Toxic mold, and Lead
Most buildings in the San Francisco Bay Area were built before 1980 and will probably contain asbestos and/or lead. The exception to this is if your building had a down-to-the-studs remodel after 1980. For your contractor to get a building permit (county requirements vary), you MAY need the architect that created the original plans to sign off on your project. Don’t make a tragic mistake and completely contaminate your home with asbestos fibers, mold spores or lead dust. That will cost substantially more to clean up than if it is done professionally from the beginning. Remeber a regular contractor does not have the licenses, equipment, experience, trained workers, or insurance to perform mold remediation, or asbestos and lead abatements. You will need clearances for worker safety for these environmental problems if they are present.
Don't Hire The Guys That Show Up in Your Driveway offering you a deal
The cheap usually turns out expensive. They can take your money and never come back. They can use substandard work practices. They can have an accident on your property and sue you. Etc. Etc. Etc. Always, always, always used licensed and insured professionals. It is worth waiting for a licensed contactor.
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