How to Hire a Contractor :: Top 10 Tips for Homeowners

Hiring a contractor can be tricky. While the majority of licensed contractors are competent, honest, hardworking and financially responsible, most of the challenges the Contractors State License Board hears about could have been prevented by adhering to their top 10 tips for how to hire a contractor. The better informed you are, the smoother your relationship will be with your chosen contractor.

  • Hire only CA state-licensed contractors.
  • Check a contractor’s license number online at or by calling 800.321.CSLB (2752).
  • Get at least three bids.
  • Get three references from each bidder and review past work in person.
  • Make sure all project expectations are in writing and only sign the contract if you completely understand the terms.
  • Confirm that the contractor has workers’ compensation insurance for employees.
  • Never pay more than 10% down or $1,000, whichever is less.* Don’t pay in cash.
  • Don’t let payments get ahead of the work.
  • Keep a job file of all papers relating to your project, including all payments.
  • Don’t make the final payment until you’re satisfied with the job.

The Contractors State License Board produced the following 15-minute educational video titled “Doing It Right: Hiring a Licensed Contractor.” The video guides consumers through the process of selecting, hiring and managing a contractor including:

  • How to verify a contractor’s credentials
  • What to include in the written contract
  • How to prevent common disputes
  • Where to go if problems arise
How to Hire a Contractor

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