Homeowners put a lot of trust in contractors when they accept a bid on a home renovation project. And they pay a lot with the thought that the jobs will be completed. But this is not always the case. If you are going to hand over your cash and trust to a contractor, it is best to have a bonded one doing the job.
The state requires all contractors to apply for and maintain a $15,000 California contractor bond in order to complete jobs in the state. Bonds have to be reapplied for every year, so unless the contractor’s bond is current, it is not safe to trust them. Bonds are acquired and maintained with the Contractors State License Board (CSLB). These bond regulations are in place to protect you as a customer. If for some reason, the job your hired your contractor forgoes unfinished or is poorly executed, you will not be financially harmed if your contractor is bonded.
Too many homeowners get scammed by door-to-door contractors — who are not bonded and also might not really be contractors — who claim they can fix your roof, fence or repaint your house. Those contractors often demand payment up front and rarely get the job done, leaving homeowners with unfinished work and diminished funds.
Bond regulations in California are aimed at limiting that experience for homeowners like you.
While it is illegal for a contractor to operate without a bond in California, it is still possible, as mentioned above. The Contractors State License Board attempts to keep track of all contractors in the state, but cannot always do a thorough job. Because of this, it is important for homeowners to take on the responsibility of checking whether potential contractors are bonded or not.
And remember, being bonded and insured are two different things. Bonds protect you as a customer from any wrong doing or incomplete jobs. Insurance protects the contractor from liability claims that may occur during a job. Insurance helps the contractors. Bonds help you. They are not the same thing.
Before hiring a company, check with the Contractors State License Board and search for the business on Better Business Bureau’s website. It also does not hurt to ask the contractors themselves to provide proof of being bonded. You can also ask for references from family and friends who have had successfully completed projects.