If you are looking to do a remodel on your home, it is imperative you research your contractor to verify the validity of their license. We have been in construction and remodeling for over 25 years and it is shocking to us the stories we have heard about contractor scams! Educating our customers is a high priority for us and for that reason we want to share with you how to check the validity of a contractor and their associated license.
Go to www.cslb.ca.gov
If you know the contractor’s license – you can enter it on the right hand side of the page. Alternatively, if you do not know the contractor’s license, there is a link for you to do a search by company name or by the license holder’s name.
Review the Business Name to ensure it matches any information you have been given including website, contracts, and any marketing material (business cards, brochure, etc). Some companies use a dba (doing business as) and in that case, the dba will be noted on the CSLB website.
Some contractors use a mailing address. Others have their physical location noted on the CSLB website. Find out if the address listed on the CLSB is a physical location or a mailing address. Compare the address and phone number on the CSLB website to any marketing materials (contracts, business cards, brochures) given to you by the contractor.
Take note of whether the company is listed as a sole proprietor, LLC, or corporation. Typically a sole proprietor is a “mom and pop” shop. We are of the opinion that the most legitimate organizations are corporations.
Review the issue date, re-issue date, and expiration date. You are checking to see if you feel comfortable with the length of time the company has been in business as well as when the license expires.
There is a section called License status. You will want this to say “current and active”. If it says anything other than that, you will want to question whether you want to pursue the relationship with this contractor.
Review the Classifications. A “B General Contractor” is licensed for all trades in remodeling. All other licenses are for specific trades (ie: Electrical, framing, etc). If you are working on a large remodel project, you will want to work with a “B General Contractor” because any other contractor is not qualified or licensed to do multiple trades.
Bonding information. Verify all information is current and active.
Verify Workers Compensation is active and current
Personnel List. In our minds, this is a BIGGIE! Anyone who is in your home presenting you with an estimate for your home remodel is required to have a HIS card (or be the license holder for the company). Sometimes it can take a while to get the names loaded on the website, but any person in your home should have an active HIS card (provided by the state of California) or should be the owner of the company. Do not be afraid to ask for this information – the HIS card is issued by the state after diligent background checks, this is a step that is taken to ensure your personal safety.
One way to find out if you are working with a legitimate contractor is to ask who you will be writing out checks to. Is it the name of the company or the name of the person standing in front of you? A legitimate company will ALWAYS have you write out a check to the business name, not an individual.
There is very little recourse available if you hire an unlicensed contractor to do work on your home and they do poor quality work or break the contract. Many times homeowners insurance will not cover any injuries or damage if the work was completed by an unlicensed contractor. Additionally, if you are working with an unlicensed contractor you have no way of knowing if they have a criminal background. Protect yourself and your home by doing your homework before hiring a contractor for your remodeling project!