A successful home building and remodeling project is dependent upon hiring an ethical, reliable, competent and experienced contractor. In California as well as many other states, the first step is to check with your Contractors State License Board and verify that the contractor has a clean record, that there has been no history of complaints, disciplinary action and the license is not revoked on suspended.
However, just because a contractor has no complaint history does not mean that complaints have not been filed with the Contractors Board. The Contractors Board cannot disclose complaints until and unless there have been a sufficient number racked up and egregious enough in nature to be referred to the Attorney Generals' Office and THEN the dirty deeds are revealed. In the mean time, unsuspecting homeowners are hiring these unethical contractors and surprise, surprise - getting slapped with a shocking dose of reality and a whole host of problems.
Which brings me to my next key point: Just because someone is licensed DOES NOT MEAN he/she will be ethical or perform quality work meeting industry standards. This same principal applies to organizations with paid memberships such as NARI,NAHB or the BBB. Unethical individuals will use the membership to promote themselves as fine upstanding individuals when nothing could be further from the truth. It's unfortunate that they abuse the membership but there are so many contractors over the years -including my own contractor from hell- who have been revoked, suspended, served jail time, committed grand theft and more and were members of these organinzations. Don't be lulled into thinking that if you hire someone from these organizations you're safe. You still have to do your background checks regardless of how you found the contractor. You can learn more about conducting background checks by following this link to contractorsfromhell.com.
And just to illustrate some of what I'm talking about here is an email I received this week from a homeowner who found out after checking that the license with the CSLB was "clean" later found out- after problems began to crop up with the contractor-that suddenly complaints started to show up. Happened to me and it was a hard lesson learned:
Hello, We checked out our contractor's status with the CSLB in April, and we found no complaints. We also checked the BBB. Then in mid October they were insisting that we provide the next progress payment before the next stage was completed. We of course refused. His insistance made me wonder what if he was having problems with another job. I checked the CSLB , and I found that there were now complaints showing. I then noticed that their license was now suspended because the bonding company had not canceled their insurance. Shortly thereafter they did obtain new bonding insurance retroactively. Once reinstated, we continued to debate when the next progress payment should be paid. During that time I received two preliminary notices. I then insisted on being provided with unconditional waivers for previous progress payments. I am also insisting that with my next progress payment, that he pay subs or material suppliers for any work already completed. I will provide him with a cashier check for each party, but I must obtain an unconditional waiver from each sub for past work. He is refusing to pay one of the subs until the end, but the bill from the sub is higher than what my final payment will be. If he refuses at the end to pay him, I will then owe the sub contractor . I have reported this company to the CSLB. How can they insist that they will not pay the subs until the end of the job?
You can read my response to this consumers' query in my FAQ section on contractorsfromhell.com