Is it important to hire a licensed contractor?
Always make sure the company you are considering is properly licensed. Also, remember that anyone can say they are licensed, make them prove it with a copy of it, check the expiration dates, you can call the issuing authority and verify their licensing is in good standing.
Velthoen Enterprises works with licensed contractors to ensure top quality service to every project. Barry Velthoen is licensed, and proudly displays his license on every page of this site.
What are the risks? Generally contractors without licenses don’t have them for a reason, which is a huge red flag. Licensing requires passing written tests on codes and building practices, experience requirements and many other aspects that prove you are competent at what you are doing. If somebody isn’t licensed there is probably a really bad reason why not.
Do You Carry General Liability Insurance?
Make sure the company you are considering carries general liability insurance. This is the insurance that protects your home from damage or negligence of the contractor, his employees or any sub-contractors he hires and brings on your property. A one million dollar policy is the standard of the industry. Also, remember that anyone can say they are insured, make them prove it with a copy of his insurance certificate, check the expiration dates, you can call the issuing authority and verify their insurance is in force.
Velthoen Enterprises carries General Liability Insurance to protect their workers as well as their clients.
Do You Carry Workers Compensation Insurance?
Make sure your General Contractor carries workers compensation insurance. It protects you from liability if a worker is injured while on your property. Be aware that if the contractor doesn’t carry workers’ compensation coverage, you will be liable for any injuries suffered by the contractor or any of his employees on your property.
Velthoen Enterprises carries both Workers Compensation and General Liability Insurance to protect the client and their staff.
Will You Provide Me With Written Lien Waivers?
Your contractor should have no problem providing you with a written lien waiver at the end of the job. This is a legal document which say’s you have paid the contractor in full for the services rendered by the contract and the contractor waives his right to place a mechanics lien on your property. A good general contractor will also provide you with lien releases from any sub-contractors that do work on your project such as electricians or plumbers. This protects you in case the contractor doesn’t pay his sub-contractors after you have paid him in full. Without a lien release from the sub-contractors you will be liable for paying them. This amounts to you paying them twice!
What are the risks? Paying for the work twice. The lien laws in California favor anyone working on your home and not you. A general contractor can sub-contract work to anyone they choose and not pay them for that work and that sub-contractor can hold you responsible for paying them, no matter if you paid the general contractor already or not.
Do You Pull All The Required Building Permits?
Some contractors hate to pull building permits because they add costs to the project and they slow a project down. But is very important that your contractor pull all required permits, this is your only assurance that things will be done to code. Inspections put a independent 3rd party in your corner and offer you protection. Also most homeowner’s insurance policies will only cover your home for work that is properly inspected. Some contractors may ask you to get the permits.
This is usually a warning sign that they are not able to pull the permit because they are unlicensed, or the work is outside of their license.
Velthoen Enterprises insists on using permits on jobs because it helps you when you look to sell your property. Any un-permitted additions or changes will prevent many buyers from being able to take out a loan.
How Do You Handle “Dirty Work”?
Construction is dusty and dirty! It gets everywhere, especially if any sanding is being done. Make sure the contractor will make an honest effort to keep the dust contained, or notify you when the heavy dust generating operations will take place so you can place sheets over furniture or move sensitive belongings. Make sure the contractor agrees to sweep up and place all construction debris in a predetermined place or refuse container at the end of every day.
Velthoen Enterprises often does remodeling for home owners and understands the importance of a clean job site. While any job site is still a hazardous area and should be treated as such, you can expect Velthoen Enterprises to make sure the job site is presentable at the close of every day.
Would You Itemize Your Bid?
Many contractors prefer to give you a single, bottom-line price for your project, but this puts you in the dark about what they’re charging for each aspect of the job. For example, let’s say the original plan calls for beadboard wainscot in your bathroom, but you decide not to install it after all. How much should you be credited for eliminating that work? With a single bottom-line price, you have no way to know.
On the other hand, if you get an itemized bid, it’ll show the costs for all of the various elements of the job—demolition, framing, plumbing, electrical, tile, fixtures, and so forth. That makes it easier to compare different contractors’ prices and see where the discrepancies are. If you need to cut the project costs, you can easily assess your options. Plus, an itemized bid becomes valuable documentation about the exact scope of the project, which may eliminate disputes later.
Is Your Bid An Estimate Or A Fixed Price?
Homeowners generally assume that the bid they’re seeing is a fixed price, but some contractors treat their proposals as estimates, meaning bills could wind up being higher in the end. If he calls it an estimate, request a fixed price bid instead. If he says he can’t offer a fixed price because there are too many unknowns about the job, then eliminate the unknowns.
“Have him open up a wall to check the structure he’s unsure about or go back to your architect and solidify the design plans,” says Tampa, Fla., attorney George Meyer, who is chair-elect of the American Bar Association’s Forum on the Construction Industry. If you simply cannot resolve the unknowns he’s concerned about, have the project specs describe what he expects to do—and if he needs to do additional work later, you can do a change order (a written mini-bid for new work).