Whether you’ve outgrown your home and need additional space, or you’ve decided you want to build up the value by adding square footage, you may be considering remodeling your home. The summer months are prime time for home construction as the weather is right, and taking a vacation in the middle of the work can lessen the inconvenience. But the work doesn’t always go as quickly and easily as those TV remodel shows portray. Make sure you protect your investment with these tips.
Avoid The Unlicensed
You wouldn’t want to hop into a taxi or Uber with someone unlicensed, even if he gave you a great deal on a ride from Aliso Viejo to Disneyland. Don’t fall for using an inexpensive unlicensed contractor. Sure, we all have friends who “know a guy,” but one good experience doesn’t guarantee a breadth of high-quality work.
The Contractors State License Board (CSLB) issues licenses in California. They are affordable and all contractors operating in the state must have one. Some contractors offer their services without obtaining one. There are steep prices to pay for contractors operating without a license, but the price will pale in comparison to what you might have to pay if they ruin your home.
Don’t settle for a license number. See the paperwork, copy it, and verify that the license is current and legitimate. Remember you are protecting your property and perhaps largest financial asset.
Sign on the Dotted Line
Like any other transaction you make, make sure you and your contractor both sign a contract for the work that your contractor will do on your home. The contract should guarantee:
- Pricing for tasks, labor and supplies.
- Permits and licenses are current and legal
- Work is completed as promised
- Work will be completed in the time that was promised
- Procedures on changes to the scope of work or contract
- A termination clause
A contract with a licensed contractor can help protect you if you need to take legal action over work that isn’t performed to satisfaction. Without a contract, you lack sufficient documentation in a court of law.
Develop a Draw Schedule
Depending on the project, how you pay your contractor will vary. For smaller one-day projects, you will want to agree to an hourly rate and pay them at the conclusion of their services. If they are replacing an element of your home, like a window or sink, you will have already purchased the supplies for that project. For larger projects, you will want to set up a draw schedule, where a total amount for the project is agreed upon, and you will pay small incremental payments as certain projects are completed.
Never pay huge amounts of money up front to a contractor. If there is one common scheme that we see, it’s contractors that take the money and run. Chasing those guys down takes time and money, and can be exhausting. Most homeowners who are ripped off just give up and take the loss. If a contractor is asking for too much money up front, that should be a red flag.
Lock Up a Legal Team
The best way to protect yourself is to retain legal counsel before you begin your project. Real estate law attorneys are experts in the field and can troubleshoot potential problems in the remodel plans before the first nail is hammered in. Don’t buy into the concept of a dream makeover, only to be left with a nightmare money pit.
The attorneys at Heritage Law LLP specialize in real estate transactions, real estate litigation, construction law, and mortgage problems. Don’t wait until problems arise to reach out for legal help. Heritage Law, LLP lawyers offer practical advice and solutions on the full range of construction law problems that property owners can encounter.