If you are going to hire a contractor to make energy-efficiency home improvements, keep in mind that California contractors are generally required by law to hold a license from the Contractor’s State License Board to perform services.
When you shop around, insist that contractors provide you with their California Contractors’ State License identification card. It’s a good idea to verify these with your local Contractor’s State License Board * or by calling 1-800-321-2752.
Here are a few things you should consider when hiring a contractor.
References and Bids
Ask others for references. Don’t depend solely on the Yellow Pages. Interview and get bids from at least three contractors for comparison. Check out contractor references on past completed jobs.
Make sure the contractor has general liability and workers compensation insurance. These types of insurance help protect you while work is being done.
Insist on a written contract that details out brands, manufacturer’s model numbers and all specifications that apply. It should also indicate the planned date of completion and an agreement for the contractor and any subcontractors to clean up after the project is finished. Any special conditions should also be included.
Be sure the contract includes a schedule of payments for the complete job. Arrange contractor payments so that the down payment (if any) does not exceed $1,000 or 10% of the contract, whichever is less. Also, only pay for work that has been performed–never in advance! And remember, the payment schedule in your contract must be spelled out in dollars and cents–not percentages.
Subcontractors and Suppliers
Don’t make final payments until you have seen receipts for bills paid by the contractor, or written waivers proving they have paid for materials and labor on the completed job. Even if you have paid your general contractor in accordance with the contract, if they fail to pay any subcontractor or supplier, you may remain responsible to subcontractors and suppliers who performed work or supplied materials for your project. You potentially bear the risk of having a Mechanic’s Lien filed against your home, if you have received a preliminary notice from any subcontractor or supplier.
Once you have signed a contract, make sure all contract changes are in writing and signed by the contractor.
The actual energy savings obtained in each instance depend on various factors, including geographic location, weather conditions, equipment installed, usage rates, and so forth. Completing multiple energy saving measures will not necessarily result in cumulative savings. Any rebates provided are subject to satisfaction of applicable qualification rules. Certain rebate programs may be modified by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), and are subject to the availability of funds.