What to Look for In a Contractor

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What to Look for In a Contractor

Here are the signs that you may be hiring the wrong person.  If any of these are missing, you are likely getting into a very bad situation.  Without these your project will be far less than satisfying.  So, read carefully this article on “What to Look for In a Contractor” and do not be taken advantage of.  Do not lose a lot of money because you hired someone without these important characteristics and traits.

To enjoy a successful remodel, here is what to look for in a contractor:

  1. Licensed
  2. Best Local Contractor | DAD's ConstructionGeneral Liability Insurance
  3. Workers Compensation Insurance (if required)
  4. Down Payment
  5. Progress Payments
  6. Cash
  7. Permits
  8. Materials
  9. Understanding
  10. Time

Lets look at each of these separately and why they are so important when considering “What to Look for In a Contractor”.


    1. What to Look for In a ContractorGo to CSLB.CA.GOV and type in the Contractor’s license number.  Here is what you are looking for:
    2. Are they licensed with the Classification of “B-General Building Contractor”? Is the license current and active?
    3. Do they have Workers Compensation Insurance?  This is not always required.  Check with your Contractor.

General Liability Insurance

    1. What to Look for In a ContractorThis is what protects you and your home if something goes wrong during or after the remodel.  It is not required.  Therefore, you will not see it on the CSLB website.  However, the Contractor must tell you during the first meeting if they have general liability insurance and provide you with the carrier’s name, policy number, and contact information.  This must also be in the work contract.
    2. Do not confuse general liability insurance with a Bond.  If a Contractor is licensed, he or she has a $15,000 Bond.  You will see this on the CSLB website.  The CSLB will not issue or renew a license without a valid $15,000 Bond.  VERY IMPORTANT – A Bond is only $15,000 and is primarily to protect the State of California – not you.  If the Contractor does something wrong and your house is flooded or burned to the ground, $15,000 will not do much!  However, a $2 million dollar general liability insurance policy will easily go a long way towards repairing or rebuilding your home!  Without it, it is all on you!

Down Payment

Green Dollar SignThe law in California is:  THE DOWN PAYMENT MAY NOT EXCEED $1,000 OR 10 PERCENT OF THE CONTRACT PRICE, WHICHEVER IS LESS.  This is the biggest warning sign.

Why on earth does a Contractor need a bunch of your money before they do anything?  If you give in to demands for a bunch of money up front, be prepared to lose it all.

Progress Payments

What to Look for In a ContractorThe law in California is:  The schedule of progress payments must specifically describe each phase of work.  This includes the type and amount of work or services scheduled to be supplied in each phase, along with the amount of each proposed progress payment.  IT IS AGAINST THE LAW FOR A CONTRACTOR TO COLLECT PAYMENT FOR WORK NOT YET COMPLETED, OR FOR MATERIALS NOT YET DELIVERED.  Think about this.  Does your employer pay you and then you work?  No. You work and then get paid.  It is the same for a Contractor.  Here too, if you make payments for work not yet performed, be prepared to be taken advantage of in a big way!


Never pay in cash unless you receive a valid receipt.  Cash without a receipt is the same as not paying a penny!  Payments made with cash cannot be traced and there is no possible way to prove you ever paid.


If the Contractor does not acquire the necessary permits, you will have trouble down the road.  What to Look for In a ContractorIf something goes wrong after the warranty expires, most insurance companies will not cover any damage or injuries caused by unpermitted work.  So, if your house burns to the ground, it is all on you.  You also have unlimited liability forever for any damage or injuries sustained due to unpermitted work.  If you sell your house and 10 years later the unpermitted work causes damage or injury, you are personally on the hook regardless where you live.

    1. Never fall for the scam of pulling your own permits.  Whoever acquires the permits is the Contractor.  With you as the Contractor, all the liability and risk are yours!  It is completely irrelevant if the Contractor you hired is licensed, bonded, has general liability and workers compensation insurance.  If you pull the permits, you are the general contractor.  Why on earth would you hire a Contractor only to assume all of the risk and liability?  If anything goes wrong, you have no claim or legal standing against the Contractor because you are the Contractor since you pulled the permits!


What to Look for In a ContractorWhatever materials or labor you furnish, you are solely responsible for the warranty and performance of any materials and labor you provide.  In similar fashion, you are also responsible for any damage that is caused by any materials or labor you provide.  Let the Contractor purchase and install the materials.

You hired the Contractor because of his or her experience, knowledge, and competency.  The Contractor has all the insurances.  If the shower valve leaks that you purchased and the Contractor installed, causing significant water damage to your house, that’s all on you!  It is not worth the risk!  Let the Contractor purchase and install the materials!

Bathroom Remodel DAD's ConstructionUnderstanding

Is it the Contractor who personally comes to your home or a salesperson?  A salesperson does not understand construction.  Their job is to sell you.  They make a commission from your job.  This gets added to your price.  You cannot install commission in your bathroom or kitchen.


When the Contractor comes to your house, does he or she take the time to truly look over the job?  Taking lots of measurements, pictures, asking questions, and examining the details?   Freely giving ideas and suggestions?  Is it a 10-15-minute visit or an hour?  Only a Contractor who patiently takes the time to thoroughly listen to you and your needs can do their best for you.

If you wisely use “What to Look for In a Contractor”,  you are on your way to a very successful and satisfying remodel.

Always Hire a Reliable and Dependable Contractor to Remodel your Home

Design Build Bathroom Remodel | Best Local Contractor DAD's ConstructionAlways work with a trustworthy contractor like DAD’s Construction.  We are experts in bathroom, kitchen, and interior remodeling.  We remodel and manage projects in an efficient manner.  DAD’s Construction will do everything to minimize the possibility of change orders.  Our team will make sure we have all the necessary information to prepare a proposal that meets your requirements.  Rest assured that we will provide you with a detailed, by line-item contract.  We will make sure that the contents of this agreement are properly and clearly communicated to you.  If you have questions or need updates regarding your project, we will always answer your inquiries.

How Can I Receive More Information on Remodeling my Home?

If you would like more information on enjoying the best bathroom, kitchen, and interior remodeling experience in Orange County, call Dan at (949) 380-0177 or at dan@dadsconstruction.com for a free in home consultation.  DAD’s serves all of South Orange County California.  This includes Lake Forest, Mission Viejo, Foothill Ranch, Portola Hills, Ladera Ranch, Irvine, San Clemente, Dana Point, San Juan Capistrano, Rancho Santa Margarita, Coto de Caza, Dove Canyon, Laguna Niguel, Laguna Hills, Newport Beach, and Aliso Viejo.

Bathroom Remodel DAD's Construction

“Taking Care of Your Home . . . The Way We Would Our Own”

Daniel A. Derkum is the owner of DAD’s Construction, a leading South Orange County, California design-and-build remodeling and renovation contractor, https://www.dadsconstruction.com.  © DAD’s Home Services & Construction, Inc.  All Rights Reserved.