Choosing A Contractor


Your contractor should hold a valid California State Contractor’s License. If you do not see a contractor’s license number listed in their ad, business card or proposal, there is a good chance that they may not be licensed.


Ask the contractor to provide you with Certificates of Insurance for Worker’s Compensation and Liability prior to commencement of work.


Ask for a list of job addresses that you can drive by and actually see the contractor’s work. Not only will you see the quality of installation but also their overall design ability. Keep in mind that some jobs might reflect the owners’ taste rather than the contractor’s.

Which Contractors To Consider 

It would be to your benefit to meet with more than one contractor so that you feel comfortable with your choice. Start with contractors who have been in business in your area for a minimum of three to five years. Environmental conditions vary drastically and it is important that the contractor is familiar with your soil, conditions, climate, pests, terrain, etc.


  • Ask friends and neighbors if they can recommend someone.
  • Try to use local phone books and publications as a source.
  • Pick companies whose names you recognize, if possible.
  • If you see an installation that impresses you, ask the homeowner who they used and
  • if they were satisfied. People are usually very happy to share this information.
  • Verify how long the contractor has been in business in this area.
  • If you see a job in progress, take the time to look around and perhaps introduce yourself.

Interviewing Potential Contractors 

Look for compatibility between yourself and the contractor. You should feel that there is a well communicated exchange of information and be comfortable expressing your own ideas.. The final product should suit your own personal needs and preferences. Ask yourself if you feel confident in the contractor’s ability, if they have a good reputation and if you trust the company. Most important, trust your instincts.

The Contract

A 10% deposit is standard upon acceptance of the proposal. For smaller jobs, final payment is usually made upon completion of the work. For larger contracts it is not unreasonable for a contractor to require installment payments — upon completion of specified projects or upon delivery of materials. Before signing acceptance of the written proposal, read it carefully. If there is anything you don’t understand or feel uncomfortable with, ask for clarification. It is much easier to do this at the initial stage than after work has begun.