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Tips to Homeowners

February 14, 1988|Armand L. Fontaine

Question: I am very confused. It seems that there are all types of contractors: plumbing, heating, roofing, etc. Do I have to hire a different one for each trade in doing a home-improvement job?

Answer: There are more than 200,000 licensed contractors in California. About one-third are general contractors, which means that they can take a job covering many trades. In turn, they will hire these sub-trades to work for you.

Many types of trades, such as plumbing and heating, require two licenses: one for plumbing and one for heating, while others are rather broad in interpretation, such as swimming pool contractors who can do a multiple amount of work.

Not all general contractors are capable of doing the more sophisticated work.

Last year was an amnesty year of the Contractors State License Board, when previously unlicensed contractors were allowed to use their experience as part of the requirement to take the examination to become licensed contractors.

Many of these are very qualified and should be licensed contractors. Others, I am certain, have not told the truth of their experience and have gone to one of the license schools to take a course on how to pass the license examination. They are now operating as contractors.

The best way to select a contractor is to find someone who has done satisfactory work for someone you know. Then investigate the individual's license with the Contractors' State License Board to determine how long the individual has been in business. Finally, inspect some of the contractor's previous work.

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