Other contractor facts from the CLCA website
- State law requires anyone who contracts to do landscape work to be licensed by the Contractors State License Board, if the total price of the job (including labor and materials) is $500 or more. Licensed contractors are regulated by laws designed to protect the public, are bonded, and must complete four years of journey- or higher-level experience in the same trade to apply for a license. Unlicensed persons, typically, are not bonded and may not have liability or workers' compensation insurance. If you hire an unlicensed person, you may be financially responsible if injuries, fire, or other property damage results.
- It's a good idea to obtain more than one bid so that the prices and work offered can be compared. Request all bids in writing. Remember that the lowest price may not always be the best. The contractor may have made a mistake or may not have included all the work quoted by competitors. Be certain that each bid lists all the preparatory and finish work that the contractor has suggested, as well as the amounts and types of soil amendments, and brand of sprinkler equipment.
- A landscape contractor is required to have a license bond posted with the Contractors State License Board. However, this bond does not ensure that your job will be completed.
It's a good idea to ask your contractor to provide you with a "payment and performance" bond that covers the full price of your job. Although nothing can totally ensure your job will be completed, a payment and performance bond provides a financial guarantee against mechanics' liens (which can be filed against your property by subcontractors or material suppliers should your contractor fail to pay them). A payment and performance bond also provides a source of funds for completing the job in the event your contractor does not do so. The bond should be for the full amount of your job, as the bonding company is only liable up to the amount of the bond. A payment and performance bond will usually add one to five percent to the total contract price, but it can be well worth the cost, particularly on large projects. A contractor must be financially solvent and have a proven track record to obtain a payment and performance bond. A contractor who is new to the business or who has a small operation may have difficulty in obtaining such a bond. If your contractor is unable to provide you with a payment and performance bond, or if you want to use an additional method of security, you might consider using a joint control company. A joint control company is an escrow company that specializes in construction. Instead of paying the contractor directly, you pay the joint control company, which in turn pays the contractor(s), material suppliers, etc. A good company will inspect the project before making payments and provide a guarantee against valid mechanics' liens. In looking for a joint control company, check with your lender or contractor for recommendations.