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Recently while working with customers and potential customers I have encountered some of the old and a couple of new contractor scams that you need to avoid.

“Yes, I pulled a permit”. – When I am looking at a job to replace an existing structure such as a patio cover or sunroom I will ask the customer if they have a permit on it. Frequently the customer will tell me that the contractor told them he pulled the permit. When I ask to see it they have no idea where it is and never received anything from the previous contractor. This usually means that the contractor did not have an approved license or insurance or did not want to bother. If a permit is pulled it is the property of the homeowner and not the contractor. Insist on receiving your copy along with the receipts for fees paid and the job card signed by the inspector.

“I need a 50% deposit” – Unless otherwise agreed upon, California Contracting Law states that a deposit must be $1000 or 10% of the contract price – whichever is lowest. It grieves me when I hear of customers who give the contractor a large deposit and then never hear from them again.

“I will pull an owner/builder permit and you will need to sign for it”. – This is another signal that the contractor has no license, an expired license, no insurance or has been suspended by the state licensing agency. It also means that you as the homeowner will be responsible for any accidents or injuries to workers on your project.

“Insurance is the responsibility of the homeowner”. – I was amazed when recently I encountered a customer who took the time to read the small print on a proposal and they saw in small print “insurance is the responsibility of the customer”. This means that any injury to a worker or any damage to your home will be your responsibility. A licensed contractor is required to at least carry workers compensation insurance if he has any employees. It is OK to ask to see a copy of the insurance policy. Look to see that it is current and in the name of the contractor.

Hope this helps.