If you’re considering a home remodel, a home addition, or a new home build in Mission Viejo, one of the first things you want to do is find a great general contractor—a licensed general contractor with a Class “B” General Building license. This type of contractor specializes in larger projects that involve multiple trades (framing, electrical, plumbing, drywall, etc.) and can serve as the overall project manager. While you want to make sure that your general contractor is experienced and capable, you also want to make sure he or she is licensed by the Contractors State License Board (CSLB) in California.
So, how do you go about making sure the general contractor you hire is actually licensed?
To be clear, you won’t find anyone advertising themselves as an unlicensed general contractor in Mission Viejo. Instead, they will more than likely simply fail to mention that they don’t have a valid license, or they will say they are licensed, when in fact they are not. It is up to you to do your due diligence and verify that any contractor you hire to work on your property has the proper license, and one that is current and active. To do that, you can go to the CSLB website and type in the license number that the contractor gives you or do a search by the company name or the contractor’s name.
Why You Should Only Hire Someone Who Is Licensed
There are those out there who will tell you that just because someone is a licensed general contractor, doesn’t mean they are good at what they do. While this can be true—there are some licensed general contractors out there who are not skilled, don’t know how to manage projects well, and who take advantage of trusting people—there are some important things that having a license can tell you about a general contractor.
First of all, the possession of a license tells you that the contractor has gone through the process of becoming licensed, which includes passing a thorough test and showing proof of experience. Licensed general contractors in California are required to have at least four years of experience in the field prior to becoming licensed. Overall, it’s a fairly involved process to obtain a license, so at the very least, having a license says that the general contractor is serious enough about his or her business to go through the extensive process to be able to legally operate.
Second, the page on the CSLB website that is dedicated to each licensed general contractor can tell you if the contractor has any public complaints or civil judgements against them. It would be difficult, or even impossible, to find this type of information about someone who is unlicensed. If a contractor has done something to another customer that warrants an official complaint or judgement, you want to know about it!
Third, when a general contractor is licensed, you know that at the very least, they have a $25,000 bond attached to their company. This is required by the CSLB of every contractor. A bond is a sort of insurance policy for you, the customer, in case things go sideways. If the general contractor does something that violates contractors’ state license law on your project, you can seek compensation for damages by making a claim against their bond.
Finally, because a general contractor’s license is so difficult to obtain, general contractors won’t want to put their license at risk. They will typically go out of their way to keep their customers happy to avoid complaints or judgements that will affect their standing. Someone operating without a license, on the other hand, won’t have this type of incentive. They can do shoddy work, fail to finish a job, or even cause damage to a home and then simply change their company’s name. The next customer will likely never be the wiser.
A Couple of Notes about Checking a Contractor’s License
When you go to the CSLB’s website to check the license number a contractor gives you, make sure the name on the profile matches the contractor’s name or the company name they are using. If the names don’t match, ask why. It could mean that the “contractor” gave you someone else’s number because they don’t have one or because theirs has some information attached to it that they don’t want you to see. The actual contractor attached to that license number may have no idea that someone else is using their number.
If they tell you something like, “I’m working under my friend’s/dad’s/cousin’s license number,” just know that this is not legal. There’s no such thing as “working under someone else’s license.” Your contract needs to be with the actual licensed contractor, or you are taking a huge risk!
Having a license should be the bare minimum qualification for the general contractor you hire. After you determine that a contractor has a current and active license, you should then look into their reputation and inquire about their past work. Look at their portfolio, read reviews and testimonials, and even ask for references. A legitimate general contractor should have no trouble providing you with these things.
Having a home built or remodeled is a large investment. Don’t risk it by hiring someone who is unlicensed, inexperienced, or unreliable! Instead, go with a skilled and dependable licensed general contractor in Mission Viejo like Scott McKee Construction, who has been licensed in the State of California for more than 35 years! Contact us today to schedule your initial consultation.