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What You Should Know Before You Hire a Contractor
Before hiring a contractor, you can easily protect yourself by following these simple guidelines:

  • Get at least three bids and ask for references of work the contractor has completed in the local area.

  • Contact the people provided as references by the bidding contractor and ask questions that will help you decide whether the contractor you are considering hiring will satisfy your needs. This takes time, but saves money and aggravation in the long run.

  • Don't pay cash, don't let the payments get ahead of the work completed, and don't pay the full cost of the job up-front.

  • Under state law, when undertaking a home improvement or repair job, contractors cannot ask for a deposit of more than 10% of the total cost of the job or $1,000, whichever is less... unless the contractor provides a bond, approved bond equivalent, or approved joint control ensuring completion of your contract. Any such bond is in addition to the bond required of all contractors for licensure.

  • Require a written contract with the contractor's license number on it, and don't sign until you fully understand the terms. Remember, if it's in the contract, you can expect to have it done. If it's not there, even with a verbal promise, you may not get what you think you are paying for.

  • When you call the Contractors Board to check on the contractor, be prepared with the contractor's name, license number, and business address.

  • Home improvement and repair projects have provided scam artist opportunities to make money from other peoples' loss and suffering!

  • Don't rush into the repairs, no matter how badly they are needed!

  • Don't hire the first contractor who comes along.

  • Don't be victimized by someone making a door-to-door presentation, offering to do repair jobs or home improvement on-the-spot and requiring a cash deposit. An enterprising contractor may take the door-to-door approach. However, even on the smallest job, you must get proof that the person you are dealing with has a contractor's license in the trade for which you expect to have the work done. Get a written contract that contains all the details of the job to be performed. The buyer has the right to cancel a home solicitation contract or offer until midnight of the third business day after the day on which the buyer signs an agreement or offer to purchase.

  • Ask to see the contractor's "pocket license" or Home Improvement Sales (HIS) registration. All contractors are issued pocket licenses that shows the type of trade for which they are licensed and the expiration date of the license. Ask to see some additional form of identification so you know who you are dealing with. If the person says he or she is representing a contractor, but can't show you a contractor's license or HIS registration, then call the contractor and find out if the person you are dealing with is authorized to act on behalf of the contractor.

  • Deal only with licensed contractors. Consumers have very little, if any recourse against unlicensed contractors. You can do more to protect yourself from problems with contractors than the Contractors State License Board can do to help you after you've been harmed.

The Contractors State License Board has produced two outstanding, easy-to-read publications to help consumers properly plan for and make informed decisions about dealing with contractors:

  1. "What You Should Know Before You Hire a Contractor" contains 34 pages with all you need to:

    • Select a reputable and qualified contractor.

    • Negotiate a clear contract.

    • Prevent disputes with the contractor.

    • Resolve disputes when they arise.

  1. A Consumer Guide To Asbestos - is a 12-page booklet containing information to help building owners identify asbestos and the precautions needed to prevent harmful exposure to asbestos when planning for and undertaking its removal.

    This booklet also describes the steps that should be taken with a company to remove asbestos.

The Contractors State License Board has offices throughout California. For the phone number and address of the office nearest you, call the Board's toll-free automated phone number:


1-800-321-CSLB (In Sacramento, 916-327-9707)

The Nevada County Contractors' Association can tell you if your contractor is licensed, in good standing and in the proper classification to fit your needs. If you don't already have a contractor, visit the NCCA Member Directory to find a contractor who fits your needs.

We can also send valuable information to assist you in selecting one.
Call 530-274-1919 NOW and let us help you protect yourself.


Upon request the Contractors State License Board provides information about a licensed contractor's license and bond status, as well as pending and prior legal actions. If you want information about a contractor's license status please call the Board's toll-free telephone number, 1-800-321-CSLB or visit the Contractors State License Board Web Site.

If you would like information about a contractor's license history and pending or prior legal actions, please call the appropriate Region Office's Complaint Disclosure phone numbers:
Northern Region Office 916-255-4041
Central Region Office 818-543-4735
Southern Region Office 714-994-7450
Web Site:

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