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By Josh Riley

How do I choose a contractor?

Real Estate Corner


Whether you are fixing up your home for sale, getting ready for the cooler months, or remodeling after the kids move out. The most important step in any home improvement project is to choose a qualified contractor. There are a few things that should be considered and verified when choosing a home repair contractor, such as:

Check license status

Don't hire a contractor to work on your house without asking for their license number and insurance. State law requires that someone have a contractor's license for any job over $500. This is protection for you, the consumer, to have recourse if a contractor leaves your project unfinished or poorly constructed. Also, ask for a copy of their insurance policy. Without that, you may be liable for accident or injury.

*Contractors license status can be verified online

Get bids

Getting multiple bids for the work that you want to have done, and letting the contractors know that you are, will not only help you to compare prices, but you will be able to discuss material and methods to make sure that you are getting the quality that you are looking for. In our business we require two bids for any work over $500 with rare exceptions and when possible we will try to get three bids. The added benefit is that since the contractors know that you are comparing prices they will give you their best price right off the bat! As a side note, try to avoid shopping prices. Meaning that you shouldn't disclose the other bids as a negotiation tool but it is perfectly acceptable to disclose them once you have entered into an agreement.

Verify references

We always say "Tehachapi is a small town". Word gets around about a company's quality of work. Always ask for references. It's not insulting and a good, established contractor should have a file cabinet full of good references. Also, don't be afraid to call the references. Ask about timeliness, work ethic, and quality of work. Ask your contractor if you can look at one of their current projects. It's good if they have current projects. Be suspicious if they have no references or current projects.

Get everything in writing

Again this is not an insult. A good contractor will give you a written estimate with a clear description of the work to be done, the cost, and time frame. For small jobs this will act as your contract. For larger jobs, a formal written contract may be appropriate. It may be worth $100-$200 for a lawyer to review a contract if it saves you thousands in the long run. (ask me for references). In addition, the CA State Contractors License Board recommends that the deposit for work should not exceed 10% of the total project cost.

Go with your gut

At the end of the day, the contractor that you choose has to be someone that you can trust, that will listen well to your needs and input, and that you can work well with. This is not the only thing to consider, but having a good feeling about the people that you do business with should be a strong consideration.

Josh Riley has been the Managing Broker for Associated Real Estate for 12 years. Josh is a Kern County Native and 3rd generation Real Estate Professional. Associated Real Estate specializes in all types of Real Estate Sales and Management. We work with buyers and sellers to advise and educate them on current market conditions and guide them through the Real Estate process. If you have more questions or need more information, call our Tehachapi Blvd. office at (661) 822-3500 to speak with an agent.


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