Hi, I'm Oren, the owner of OCA Builders, your trusted home contractor in Santa Cruz, We all know that home renovations and home constructions in California can get expensive and, sometimes, problematic. In fact, consumer complaints about home improvement contractors are one of the top complaints the Department of Consumer Affairs in California receive every year.
We can help in thinking through what you need to know before you even hire a contractor. Ready?
First, don't forget that anyone who does home improvement work in California that costs more than $200 must be licensed, so always hire only licensed contractors. A DCA license doesn't just mean you're working with a legal contractor, it also means they conduct a state background check and that they passed a contracting test regarding consumer rights.
It also means you qualify for extra protection from the City's Contractor Trust Fund, so if something does go wrong we actually can reimburse you for a portion of the damages or unfinished work. There are thousands of home improvement contractors in California and it’s easy to check if they are licensed, just go to the https://search.dca.ca.gov website and use the Instant License Check.
Don’t take anyone’s word for it because they’ve given you a “license number” or because they have painted a “license number” on their truck. Always check with DCA to be sure.
Once you find a licensed contractor, ask for at least three references. You can also call to check if DCA has gotten any complaints about this business. Remember, it’s important to shop around when choosing a home improvement contractor. Don’t settle for the first check here estimate the contractor gives you without comparing prices. Next, ask for a written estimate of the costs for the entire scope of the work to be done.
By law, this must be provided to you if you request it and if the contractor plans on charging you a fee for the estimate, they must tell you in advance. Never let work begin or make payments until you have a written contract that includes all of the specifics on the work you’re requesting and how much the materials will cost.
You can download a model estimate and contract from the DCA website as well. Don’t forget that before you sign a contract, you should read it carefully and understand the cancellation notice.
And remember that by law, you can cancel any home improvement contract within three days. Don’t finance improvements or repairs through your contractor. It is illegal for a contractor to offer financing or to offer to arrange a loan. If a contractor does attempt to do this, you can file a complaint immediately online. Never pay in cash and never pay more than a quarter of the total amount upfront.
Your payments should coincide with the progress of specific work. Be sure to keep track of all paperwork and payments. If you have any questions or concerns please file a complaint at https://dca.ca.gov. To learn even more, visit https://dca.ca.gov and search for “Home Improvement Contractor”.