Frequently Asked Questions
This step helps you get started determining what type of contractor you need, and making sure they are qualified and properly licensed.
Here are some guidelines to use when you begin searching for licensed contractors. By using them, and the other steps that follow, you could save yourself from financial risk and other future problems with unlicensed contractors.
Determine what type of contractor you need.
In California, anyone who contracts to perform work on a project that is valued at $500 or more for labor and materials must hold a current, valid license from the CSLB. You can verify the license on-line or call 1-800-321-CSLB (2752).
ALERT Be advised that unlicensed individuals pose a risk to you and your family’s financial security. They expose you to significant financial harm in the event that a worker is injured while on your property, if your property is damaged, if the work is incomplete and/or faulty. Few, if any, unlicensed individual has bonding or workers’ compensation insurance. The quality of their work usually doesn’t compare to that of a licensed contractor. Don’t take the chance in order to save a few dollars. You’ll probably end up paying more in the long run.
The CSLB licenses contractors in 43 different classifications. This ranges from general contractors to swimming pool contractors, landscapers, painters, electricians, plumbers and many more. It will be easier to decide the right type of contractor if you carefully plan your project in advance and clearly define what you want done to your property.
Understanding the difference between a general and specialty contractor.
General building contractors usually oversee projects and coordinate the specific licensed subcontractors for a job. Specialty or subcontractors are usually hired to perform a single job. For example, if you want only roofing or plumbing work, you may want to hire a contractor licensed in that particular specialty.
A general building contractor may also contract for specialty work, but must hold a specialty license for that work or actually have a specialty contractor do the work. The only exception is if the job requires more than two types of work on a building. Then it is appropriate for a licensed general building contractor to contract for and oversee the entire project. For example, if your kitchen remodeling will involve plumbing, electrical and carpentry work under one contract, you should hire a licensed general building contractor. Under these circumstances, a general building contractor may perform all of the work on a building, or subcontract parts of the job to contractors with specialty licenses.
This step highlights some of the different things you can do to help you find the right licensed contractor.
Make sure the contractor is licensed.
All contractor advertisements, whether it be an ad in the phone book or newspaper, a flyer that shows up at your front door, or the company’s name on the side of a truck, must have the contractor’s state license number. You can check your license status online or call 1-800-321-CSLB (2752).
REMEMBER Most licensed contractors are competent, honest, hardworking, and financially responsible. However, most of the problems the CSLB sees could be prevented if homeowners knew their home improvement rights and took responsibility for their projects. A responsible and informed consumer can work more effectively with reputable contractors and can avoid being victimized by unscrupulous or unlicensed operators.
Shop around before hiring a contractor.
Get at least three written bids on your project, and make sure you’re comparing bids based on identical plans, specifications and scope of work. Do not automatically accept the lowest bid. In fact, you should beware of any bid that is substantially lower than the others. It probably indicates that the contractor made a mistake or is not including all the work quoted by his or her competitors. You may be headed for a dispute with your contractor if you accept an abnormally low bid. It is also possible that this contractor will cut corners or do substandard work in order to make a profit on the job.
When the contractor comes to your house to give you a bid, ask to see their pocket license, along with a picture I.D. You want to make sure the person you’re dealing with is the same person on the license.
Contractors can also hire salespeople to work for them. Those people must be registered with the CSLB. Ask to see their registration card, along with a picture I.D.
REMEMBER Contractors are required to have their license number on their business cards and on all bids and contracts. Seeing the number there doesn’t necessarily mean the license is valid. Check the license status on this website. Although an unlicensed operator may give you a low bid, the risks of possible financial and legal consequences you may face outweigh any benefits a lower bid may seem to offer.
Ask for personal recommendations.
Friends and family may have recently had similar projects completed. If they are satisfied with the results, chances are you will be too. Other good reference sources include local customers, material suppliers, subcontractors, and financial institutions to check whether the contractor is financially responsible. If you are still unsure, you may also wish to check the contractor out with your local building department, trade association or union, consumer protection agency, consumer fraud unit, and the Better Business Bureau.
Verify the contractor’s business location and telephone number.
A contractor who operates a business out of the back of a pickup truck with a cellular telephone may be difficult to find to complete a job or fix something that has gone wrong after the last bill is paid. You can find a licensed contractor’s “address of record” on this website when you look up their license status.
Verify the contractor’s workers’ compensation and commercial general liability insurance coverage.
Ask to see a copy of the certificate of insurance, or ask for the name of the contractor’s insurance carrier and agency to verify that the contractor has the insurance.
In California, if a contractor has employees, they’re required to carry workers’ compensation insurance. The importance of this cannot be overstated. If a worker is injured working on your property and the contractor doesn’t have insurance, you could be liable to pay for injuries and rehabilitation. Your homeowner’s insurance may or may not cover those costs. You should check with your insurance carrier to make sure the workers’ compensation insurance coverage provided by the contractor is adequate. Learn more from the California Department of Insurance.
Commercial general liability insurance is not required, however, it covers damage to your property. If the contractor does not carry general liability insurance, they should be able to explain how they would cover losses that would ordinarily be covered by insurance. If your contractor damages your property and doesn’t carry commercial general liability insurance, you or your insurance policy could end up paying for damages.
A licensed contractor must provide you with information regarding both types of insurance in your written contract.
ALERT Effective January 1, 2007, all roofing contractors (C-39 classification) must carry workers’ compensation insurance or have a valid Certification of Self-Insurance on file with the CSLB. This information is indicated when you review the status of a contractor’s license on this Website.
Learn about the contractor’s bonds.
California licensed contractors are required to have a contractor’s license bond. It’s important to know what bonds do and do not cover. Some bonds are designed to protect you against substandard work that does not meet local building codes. Bonds do not assure the financial or professional integrity or competency of a contractor. Institutional lenders such as savings and loans, insurance companies or commercial banks generally require licensed contractors to secure bonds for large jobs.
Bonds may be classified as:
- Contractor’s License Bonds
- Licensed contractors are required to have a contractor’s license bond of $12,500 (as of January 1, 2007). This bond is written to cover any project the contractor agrees to perform. But, be aware, this bond is often not enough to cover multiple complaints made against it or your project if it’s worth more than the value of the bond.
- Contract Bonds
- Contract bonds guarantee both the completion of the job and payment for all labor and materials. In general, the bonding company will not have to pay more than the face amount of the bond. The cost of this bond is usually 1-2% of the contract price.
For more information about bonds, read the CSLB publication, A Guide to Contractor License Bonds.
Total kitchen renovations take from 4 to 6 weeks. This does not include structural changes such as walls, windows, or doors. Kitchen renovations usually include plumbing, electrical, lighting, cabinetry, countertops, tile backsplashes, flooring, and painting.
The amount of time it takes to remodel a kitchen varies by the complexity of the project. For simplicity’s sake, we’ll discuss an average kitchen remodel where the kitchen is completely stripped, new cabinetry, solid surface countertops with a tile backsplash, and appliances are installed. New flooring is installed and the walls and ceiling are painted. The footprint of the kitchen will be redesigned but no structural work will be done. Windows and doors all remain in the same location.
Week 1 The first step is demolition. Appliances, counter tops, cabinetry, flooring, and sheetrock are removed. Next is the rough-in of all mechanicals; plumbing, electrical, and HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning). When necessary insulation is installed in the ceiling and on exterior walls.
Week 2 After the mechanicals has passed inspection, it’s time to install sheetrock and repair any walls to make them ready for painting. After the painting is completed the cabinets should be installed and ready for counter top templating.
Week 3 The first item to be completed is counter top templating. It usually takes about a week for fabrication and installation. While we are waiting for the counter tops it would be a good time to install flooring. Depending on the type of flooring you have selected, this could take anywhere from one day to five days.
Week 4 The counter tops are installed. The following day we start the tile backsplash which generally takes two days. By the end of the week we are installing appliances, the plumber and electrician are setting fixtures, completing hook-ups and installing lighting.
Week 5 Complete any items that did not get finished in week 4 and do the touch-up painting.
Remodeling projects always contain unforeseen issues that may take extra time to address.
Remember, the better job you do of selecting all of your materials before the job starts and having all materials available and appliances on site will help shorten the time. Decisions made “on the fly” always create delays.
Deciding to remodel your home is just the beginning of an exciting process! Let us walk you through the steps Sierra Crest Construction takes to make your remodel easy and enjoyable.
The Initial Meeting
Your initial meeting with Sierra Crest Construction is the first step to developing the relationship of trust necessary to ensure your enjoyment of the remodeling process – trust in the dependability of our staff, trust in the quality of the craftsmanship, and trust that you and your home will be treated as if it was our own.
This is the time to ask all your questions. Discuss your ideas, hopes, concerns, and plans for your project. Ask about our vision, our experience, and our way of working. During this initial meeting, Sierra Crest Construction will:
∙ Discuss with you your vision and tentative budget
∙ Take measurements and preliminary photographs
∙ Establish a tentative time frame for the project
∙ Make any recommendations
Estimate and Scope of Work
Once the scope of work has been determined and agreed upon, Sierra Crest Construction will present and review with you a detailed estimate of your project.
Every project is unique and may encompass various levels of planning and design. . If your project requires specific plans or design services, Sierra Crest Construction will discuss with you the various steps in this process. Larger remodels and renovations may require more detailed plans and design by the Sierra Crest Construction design team prior to completing your estimate. Once you are comfortable with our staff, the agreed upon scope of work and estimate, you are ready to start your project!
We understand that the construction phase of your remodel can be a stressful time – Sierra Crest Construction will do everything in its power to minimize the stress through constant communication. The better you understand the steps of the process, the more comfortable you will be that all your expectations will be met – Your Project Manager is always available to discuss any questions that may arise and looks forward to working with you to ensure your total satisfaction.
Completion of Your Project
Our work is not complete until you are 100% satisfied. The Sierra Crest Construction team will work tirelessly to fulfill your every need and will never cut corners. The satisfaction of our customers is our staff’s number one goal, and you can feel comfortable that we will strive to exceed your expectations.