Reading This Could Save You Thousands on Remodeling Your SoCal Home

Beware of Unlicensed Contractors!

Owning a home means taking pride in it, especially here in Southern California with our amazing weather and lifestyle. Just saying that you own a home in Burbank or Pasadena or Glendale is something to envy.

Because you take pride in your home, you may want to remodel to spruce it up and keep it looking its best. When you do, examine the credentials of your contractor. Unlicensed contractors in Southern California are everywhere and they are nothing short of dangerous – to your bank account, to your resale, and to your safety.

Get your remodeling done by licensed professionals or else it’s a countdown to big problems.

Code Compliance

The entire reason for having a licensed contractor is to ensure that all remodeling/construction work complies with codes set by local housing authorities. Here in Southern California, these codes  are immensely important because of potential earthquakes. Turning to unlicensed contractors may seem like a good, cheap deal at first, but it puts lives at risk. It also jeopardizes your wallet. If (and when) building inspectors come by and see the work is not done right, you will be out of pocket bringing them up to the codes that the unlicensed contractors ignored. The expenses include what you paid the unlicensed operators, plus employing a credentialed contractor, plus materials, plus fines.

Realtors and Blocked Resale

If you are planning to sell your home and your realtor advises you to remodel it a little first, you may not know a contractor (or yours isn’t available) and may be tempted to let the realtor choose one. Still always check the contractor’s credentials. If the realtor brings in an unlicensed one who does poor work (like not up to code) and the buyer’s inspector sees the problems, it is you who will have to pay to get it all fixed. Otherwise, you won’t be able to sell your home.

Worker’s Compensation Nightmare

Any type of construction job has potential hazards and safety issues to work through. Licensed contractors in Southern California are required by law to carry workman’s compensation. If a contractor working on your house falls from a ladder and breaks a leg, then you have some protection. Unfortunately, unlicensed contractors don’t have workman’s compensation. If one of them is injured at your home, they can sue you and you have nothing to fall back on. Some unlicensed contractors even fake injuries just to get money.

Substandard and Unfinished Work

If you hire an unlicensed contractor, there is no guarantee he will finish the job. He doesn’t have to because your “contract” isn’t legal. He may stop halfway through the job and demand more money. Sadly, it’s quite common here in SoCal. Even if you pay more, he may continue or he could just walk away. Or he may cut corners and do such a poor job that you will need to pay someone else to redo it.

Spotting an Unlicensed Contractor

All contractors are required to carry a pocket license and photo ID. Ask to see it. California has conducted stings that netted quite a few unlicensed contractors. But many are still operating. Even seeing the credentials doesn’t go far enough. Write down their number and enter it into the database at This will tell you if they are licensed or not.

Limit the Risks

Unlicensed contractors are really sketchy when it comes to details. Some can become abrasive and bully you until you back down. There are several things you can do in SoCal to limit your risks:

  • Check their ID and license number.
  • Ask for current, verifiable contact information.
  • Ask your local building department what permits you need. Then ask the contractor if they’ll obtain them.
  • Check for proof that they carry general liability insurance and are registered for workman’s compensation.
  • Put everything in writing and make them sign it to be accountable.
  • Never pay in cash.

Never pay more than 10% down.

Romney Tripp of RWT Design & Construction“Romney Tripp started construction in 1977 and formed RWT Design & Construction in 1992, eventually setting up the shop in Burbank. From the mid 1980’s Romney has been working on building recording studios as well as…” Read more.

Creative Commons Attribution: Permission is granted to repost this article in its entirety with credit to RWT Design & Construction.

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