By Steve Jacobs,
The old saying – “if something seems to good to be true, it probable is” – is quite fitting when it comes to hiring a contractor for your home or yard construction project. While it is smart to shop around, get quotes, etc., don’t fall into the trap of trusting an unlicensed contractor promising a great price. More times than not, the “cheapest” contractor will actually end up costing you the most in the long run. Here are some important things to consider when looking for a contractor.
First, make sure that your contractor has the appropriate licensing (it is actually illegal for a contractor to provide services or products over $500 without a license). This is proof that he or she has met certain industry training standards and is allowed to work in your area. It’s also important that your project meets all of the proper local building codes and obtains the necessary permits.
Each contractor is required to list their license number on their website, trucks, business cards, and all marketing materials. If you don’t see this, ask them why and have them provide their number, then check the status of their license and insurance coverage on the Contractors State License Board website:
Working with someone who is licensed also gives you an avenue of grievance should a dispute arise. The contractor is held accountable by the Contractor’s State Licensing Board, so the contractor has incentive to do things the correct way, and you have an authority to contact if they do not. Working with a contractor who does not have the proper license and therefore cannot get the appropriate permits can severely hurt your property value. When a house is sold, certain facts must be disclosed to buyers. If it is revealed that something was not done to code or was done without a permit, this could negatively affect your home’s value and you may be the one to pay for improvements to meet code standards.
Licensed contractors are required to insure their work and their workers. Contractors should carry two types of insurance: liability and worker’s compensation. Liability will protect you in the event that the contractor causes damage to your home, and worker’s compensation will cover an injury that occurs on your property during construction. Don’t be mistaken by thinking that your homeowner’s policy will cover these mishaps. Most policies are voided if the project is being done by an unlicensed contractor. It’s not hard to imagine how catastrophic it would become if
youwere liable for the damaged property or injured worker.
Many people confuse bonding with insurance, but it’s important to understand the difference. A bond is intended to act as a guarantee that the contractor will perform the work. It is secured money that can be distributed to the homeowner should the contractor fail to perform the proper work. This covers things like a leak that goes undetected and causes damage to your home or even an employee stealing personal items. Ask to see proof of the bond and be sure to understand its coverage.
Lastly, when dealing with a large, or even small, scale job on your property, you want to be sure you can trust those who are doing the work. If the contractor is cutting corners in attaining the proper licensing, you have to wonder where else they are willing to cut corners. Unfortunately, there are thousands of unlicensed contractors working in your area. Your only reassurance is to verify their license, insurance, and bonding to reduce any risk.
Here at Nature Designs, we have over 30 years of experience in design, construction and maintenance of high-end landscaping here in San Diego. It is important to us to provide the top professionals in the field, licensing, insurance, and bonding to give you the confidence and trust you deserve. To learn more, please visit us at
or call us at (760) 945-4321.