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Tips on Selecting a Contractor

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Here are a few tips that you may wish to consider when you select a contractor:

  • Make sure the contractor is licensed and carries a performance bond. Licensing information is available from the Contractor's State License Board or by calling the Contractor's State License Board at 800-321-2752.
  • Make sure that the contractor carries sufficient insurance to cover expenses that may arise as a result of their work, such as the effect of rain while a portion of the roof is uncovered.
  • Get at least three bids and check the bidders' backgrounds and references. Make sure their references are viable. If possible, visit some of their projects and talk to the occupants.
  • Require your contractor to meet with you and your engineer for a pre-construction tour of the project. This may reduce the number of claims for extra work during the project.
  • Include a clause that limits the maximum change-order costs that may be charged.
  • Ask the contractor to submit a list of materials and equipment for your project identifying, for example, the number of wall anchors, tons of steel frame, cubic yards of concrete, the number of different types of bolts and other unit items. Alternatively, you could ask the contractor to assign a dollar value for each aspect of the work, for example, replacing the roof, installing frames and foundations, etc. This may assist you in limiting the cost of change orders and, when certain aspects of the job are not performed (with the City's approval), may enable you to take credits against cost increases.
  • Have all changes to the approved design completed before the start of construction. Changes during construction are far more costly and, in addition, may result in delays and loss of use. Also, you are in a better position to negotiate a fair change order before construction on your building has started.
  • Once your selection is made, if your project is large or complex, instruct your contractor to schedule a pre-construction meeting with City staff.

This is intended to highlight only a few of the important items to be considered in selecting a contractor. For more comprehensive information, ask to see the booklet distributed by the State of California Department of Consumer Affairs, "WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW BEFORE YOU HIRE A CONTRACTOR", which is available in the City of Palm Desert Building and Safety Department.