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What is your contractor not telling you?

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While many Los Angeles contractors are trustworthy, some of them want to take advantage of you. The bad ones know that not every homeowner is an expert when it comes to home repairs. Likewise, few of us understand the contracting industry. A dubious person might use our lack of knowledge to deceive us.

The general rule of thumb when hiring a contractor to work in your home is to trust your gut. Does he seem honest and thorough? But if you just can’t tell, here are some tips to help you figure out if you contractor is going to scam you.

Find out who’s really in charge

Many experienced contractors generally won’t be around for the actual work. After years of doing the labor themselves, they take on more of a management role and supervise the people under them. In addition to overseeing budgets, they hire plumbers, electricians, and other workers as needed. If he’s unclear about who’s going to be running the job site, make sure you ask for specifics. Find out the name of the foreman, check his references if possible, and if he’s local to Hollywood, Santa Monica or your particular neighborhood, visit him on a current job site. He may be qualified to work on your home, but if your personalities don’t gel, then it could be an unpleasant experience.

Also, if possible, ask about his workforce. You might even want to suggest that he hire the best plumber Los Angeles has to offer, to ensure that the work is done right the first time.

Don’t make a large deposit up front

Deposits are common before work begins, but not for why you might think. Reputable, licensed contractors should have a good relationship with their suppliers, and therefore won’t have to prove their financial standing by getting your deposit. California law stipulates that homeowners are only required to pay 10% or $1,000 (whichever is the lesser) up front, as a good-faith gesture. Be suspicious of anyone who asks for more. Additionally, determine your payment schedule based on a fixed amount of work. Make him accountable to a timeline. You don’t want to be responsible for paying someone if he doesn’t finish on time.

Consider a separate designer

Contractors are skilled at their particular job, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they have an eye for interior design. If you’re undergoing a large project like a bathroom, kitchen, or especially a home remodel, you may want to consider hiring a designer in addition. Think of it this way. If an interior designer said he also knows a little bit about contracting, would you trust him to tear up your house? If the contractor does claim to have design experience, ask to see a portfolio.

The drawback here is the additional cost. However, like contracting, interior design is a competitive industry in Los Angeles. Shop for quotes before deciding you want to assign the responsibilities to your contractor.

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