Are you looking to build a new home? Overhaul your kitchen? Or add a new wing to your existing business? Whether your project is commercial, industrial or residential, you need a qualified general contractor in Ventura California to take on the job.

You want someone familiar with the area, climate and geography, for starters. Plus, you need a licensed professional with years of experience who’s known for top-notch work.

Finding the right contactor can be challenging, and many people don’t do the necessary homework before hiring a contractor. To make sure you find a five-star general contractor in Ventura California, you should know these ten things:

1. California law requires contractors to be licensed

Every contractor that works in the Golden State must have a license, it’s required by law. To get a license, contractors must pass competency tests. The tests make sure contractors, including general contractors in Ventura California; have a certain level of expertise to work on projects.Many contractors include their license number right on their website so homeowners can check their license status before making contact. If the license number isn’t on the website, it should be one of the first things you ask for.Run the license number through the California Contractor’s State License Board (CSLB) website to make sure the contractor’s license is valid.

2. Make sure abilities match licensing

Just because a contractor is licensed, doesn’t mean they’re qualified to handle every project. Some contractors are licensed to do specific work with insulation, boilers or cabinetry, for example, while others are classified as a general contractor.When you run a contractor’s license, it will tell you his or her classification. In the state of California there are 43 different classifications for contractors, so you need to make sure that the contractor’s abilities meet your needs.The California Contractor’s State License Board website does give you the classification of a contractor, but to a homeowner the title may not mean much. To get a better understanding of what each class of contractor can do, check out this guide from the California State License Board.

3. Contractors have reviews and grades

Before moving forward with a contractor, you’ll want to get reviews on his or her previous work. You can check review sites. Homeowners can leave honest reviews on sites like Angie’s ListHomeAdvisor and Porch.You have to pay for a membership to check out reviews on Angie’s List, but the other two sites listed are free. Log on, search for a contractor that you’re thinking of doing work with and read what others have to say.In addition to reading reviews, you should look on the Better Business Bureau‘s website.The BBB grades contractors based on public records, information supplied from the contractor and the number of, or lack of, complaints filed against the company.To move forward, you should look for a Ventura California contractor with an A+ grade, the highest available from the BBB.

4. Ask about insurance policies in place

A reputable contractor should have general liability insurance that covers the costs of unforeseen problems. It’s another item on your checklist that a contractor should meet.There’s no website to check for valid insurance, you have to ask contractors to provide proof of insurance. However, California law requires contractors to state whether or not they have general liability insurance on their bids.Make the sure contractor’s insurance policy covers the following:
  • Any bodily harm or property damage that happens to the home, homeowner or the family as a result of the work being done in your home.
  • Worker’s compensation should cover any injuries that occur to workers on site.
  • Any injury from accidents involving the contractor’s own equipment.
You should also check policy expiration dates. You don’t want insurance to expire while your project is ongoing.

5. Contractors expect to go through an interview process

If you’re planning a project that’s beyond $500, you should interview several contractors for the job. Contractors expect an interview process, especially for high-priced jobs.Make a short list of contractors that you’re willing to work with and start with a phone interview. Here are a few questions you should ask:
  • What’s your background and history in the business?
  • How is your work guaranteed?
  • How do you handle payment?
  • Do you have a list of references?
  • Do you use subcontractors?
  • Who will be working in my home and what’s their background?
  • What’s your experience with a project like mine?
  • What’s your current workload?
  • How do you handle problems if they arise?
  • If there are delays, how and when do you communicate them?
After a phone interview, meet the best candidates face-to-face. Have the contractor come to your home and talk specifically about the details of your project.

6. You can ask to visit job sites

You should ask for and call references given to you by the contractor, but you should also ask to see a completed job that’s similar to yours.Pictures of a project are nice, but seeing it in person can provide a lot of reassurance. While you’re checking out the work, talk with the owner about his or her experience. Ask if they’re happy with the project, if deadlines were met and if the contractor was respectful of the home or business. You can also tour a project that’s in process too. It’s worth your time to see what the contractor’s job site looks like, and be able to watch builders in action. Again, if you can, talk with the homeowner about the process to get a better idea of what to expect when working with the contractor.

7. Be honest about your budget

Determining a budget for a project is always challenging. Before consulting a contractor, do some homework on average prices for the project you’re looking to complete. It’s a good starting point to work from.Research the materials you want to use too, to get an idea of the cost. Changing materials or brands can have a significant impact on the price. Selecting granite countertops, for example, over laminate is a difference of almost $3000.You should also review your finances and decide how much you’re willing to spend.When you’ve narrowed down your list of contractors, you should start talking budget. You should be honest about it, and set aside an additional 5-10% for overages.

8. A bid tells you more than a price point

You should ask several contractors to bid on your project. You should give them as much detail as possible and discuss specific products that you want used. The more information you can provide, the better the quote will be.While the ultimate purpose of a quote is to get a price point, it also provides information about the contractor. Look at how organized the quote is. Did the contractor listen to your requests? Are they reflected in the quote? Is the quote detailed with specific prices for products and labor or is it a vague, two-line quote?A bid gives you a look at a contractor’s attention to detail. While you shouldn’t pick a contractor based solely on the organization of a quote, it is something to consider.

9. Contracts should be detailed with dates and payment plans

After reviewing bids, you can make a decision. But there’s more to hiring a contractor than a handshake and a few verbal instructions. Every project should have a contract. The contract should be detailed and include a through job description, a brand-specific list of materials needed, cost for materials and labor, a timeline for the project from start to finish, payment terms and cancelation options.When it comes to payment terms, no detail is too small. Many contractors require ten percent down or $1000 to get started, according to the Better Business Bureau. In some cases, contractors want you to pay as the project progress. If that’s the case, the contract should provide specific amounts and dates so both parties are on the same page.

10. Have a point of contact for the duration of the project

During the course of your project, you’ll likely have a handful of people in and out of your house. The bigger the project, the more likely a contractor will rely on subcontractors as well.With so many people contributing, make sure you have a point of contact to talk with throughout the project. You don’t want to rely a message to a subcontractor and hope it gets to the right person.You want the cell phone number of the project supervisor to ensure your comments, concerns and questions are taken care of in a timely manner.Moving forward with a remodel or a new build is exciting, but finding the right contractor is a major part of the process. It’s important to do as much research as possible about your project and the contractor you plan to work with. A good relationship with a trusted contractor makes the process run smoothly. Use the tips above to make sure you select a general contractor in Ventura California that can turn your dream into a reality.