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Hiring a Contractor

The California Department of Consumer Affairs Contractors State License Board (CSLB) states that anyone performing construction work in California totaling $500 or more (in labor and materials) MUST be licensed by the CSLB.

Here are 10 tips to make sure your contractor measures up to the standard industry "rules to follow":

  • Hire only state-licensed contractors.
  • Check a contractor's license number online at or by calling 800-321-CSLB (2752).
  • Get at least 3 bids before letting 1 contractor start the work.
  • Get 3 references from each bidder and review past work in person if possible.
  • Confirm that the contractor has workers' compensation insurance for employees.
  • Make sure all project expectations are in writing and only sign the contract if you completely understand the terms.
  • Never let payments get ahead of the work.
  • Keep a job file of all papers relating to your project, including all payments.
  • Never pay more than 10% down or $1,000, whichever is less--and do NOT pay in cash.
  • Make the final payment only after you're satisfied with the finished product.
-- Lisa Doughty, Office Coordinator