Hiring a Contractor

The Contractors State License Board has many free publications focusing on consumer protection.  Below is one such document, titled 10 Tips, Make Sure Your Contractor Measures Up.

  1. Hire only state-licensed contractors.
  2. Check a contractor’s license number online at http://www.cslb.ca.gov or by calling 800.321.CSLB (2752).
  3. Get at least three bids.
  4. Get three references from each bidder and review past work in person.
  5. Make sure all project expectations are in writing and only sign the contract if you completely understand the terms.
  6. Confirm that the contractor has worker’s compensation insurance for employees.
  7. Avoid paying more than 10% down or $1,000, whichever is less.* Avoid paying in cash.
  8. Avoid letting payments get ahead of the work.
  9. Keep a job file of all papers relating to your project, including all payments.
  10. Avoid making the final payment until you’re satisfied with the job.

* There is an exception to this rule for about a dozen contractors who have filed a  blanket performance and payment bond with the Registrar. This information is noted on the contractor’s license detail page on CSLB’s website.

The document is not an exhaustive list of precautions you should take prior to selecting a contractor, but a list of very important points.  All are important points, but I believe the most important item on this list is #5.

It sounds like a logical step, but you would be surprised.  Clients believe the contractor is the professional and he knows what he is doing, unfortunately that is not always the case.  Not only is it important the contractor supply you with a complete and detailed list of material, including brands, models, finishes, and quantities.  The details should include a complete set of drawings showing what your finished project is going to look like.  What good does a statement do if it only states, “custom cabinets”, if you don’t know what the layout looks like, how many drawers, roll out shelves, corner cabinets, and many other details.

Only sign a contract after you understand exactly what you are getting for your money, including exact specifications and drawings.  If a contractor is unable to provide that level of detail, you only have yourself to blame if what he provides is not what you expected.  Here at Baccaro Construction, we do all of our designs in house.  That means the person that completed your original interview is the one completing your drawings, including the execution and completion of your project.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to call.


Required Permits

Clients will often ask if their project requires a permit, they will tell me other contractors they have spoken with tell them no.  There are many reasons these contractors don’t want to obtain a permit, but it never benefits the client not to get one.  Some contractors ask the client to obtain the permit, again not a good idea.  The permits are issued to an individual (entity) and that person is responsible for the permit and any work done under that permit.  As a homeowner, you don’t want to be responsible, you are paying your contractor to complete your project, he knows the codes, and he should be held responsible to insure all work is completed according to local codes.

As a Realtor, I can tell you one of the questions you have to answer in writing when selling your home is whether any work was done on the home that requires a permit.  You don’t want to sell your home only to find out after the sale a project you had completed did not meet the local code requirements and possibly be held responsible to your buyer.

Below, please find a list of projects that require a permit.  This may not be a complete list, you should always check with your local building department prior to starting any project.

  • Accessory structures – Gazebos, pool houses, carports, detached garages, greenhouses and storage sheds are examples (Storage sheds less than 120 Sq. Ft. of floor area are normally exempt)
  • Additions to existing buildings
  • Air Conditioners (New or Replacement)
  • Arbors
  • Awnings
  • Bathroom remodels
  • Demolition of structures or pools
  • Driveways encroaching on public right-of-way (Check With Your Local Engineering Department)
  • Drywall/Sheet Rock
  • Interior remodel and installation of partition walls
  • Electrical Work – new, repair or replacement
  • Replacement of exterior doors
  • Fences & gates (Check With Your Local Planning Division)
  • Fireplace/Chimney Repair
  • Furnaces (New or Replacement)
  • Gas Lines
  • Generators
  • Kitchen remodels 
  • New Buildings of any kind or size
  • Patio Covers
  • Photo-voltaic Systems
  • Plumbing Work (New, Repair or Replacement)
  • Relocating Buildings/Structures
  • Repairs, additions or remodeling of existing structures
  • Re-Roofing of existing structures
  • Retaining walls
  • Satellite dishes and ham radio antennas
  • Siding (Replacement or New)
  • Sidewalks encroaching on public right-of-way (Check With Your Local Engineering Department)
  • Stucco or Plastering
  • Swimming pools, hot tubs and spas
  • Tile (Tubs and showers)
  • Temporary Power Poles
  • Trellises
  • Water heaters (New or Replacement)
  • Wells
  • Window Replacement

Projects that may not require a permit

  • Cabinet replacement
  • Painting
  • Wallpaper
  • Flooring replacement
  • Counter replacement

Keep in mind, if you are doing a kitchen remodel for instance, yes you are replacing cabinets and counters, no permit required, but you normally change out the sink, garbage disposal, faucet, new outlets, new appliances, drywall repair, etc., all require permits.  If you have any questions, please call and let us guide you through the proper channels in completion of your project.