Don’t skimp on quality and safety; follow key consumer advice from the Contractors State License Board
It’s a summertime nightmare: Extreme heat hits the scene just as your air conditioner gives up the ghost. You need an AC replacement ASAP, but in your quest for speedy relief, don’t sacrifice quality and safety—follow these 10 tips from the Contractors State License Board (CSLB) to make sure your new unit is installed properly:
- Check the license—Hire a state-licensed contractor and verify that the contractor is in good standing at https://search.dca.ca.gov or by calling (800) 321-CSLB (2752).
- Obtain a permit—Make sure your contractor obtains a building permit from your local building department. Beware of any contractor who offers a lower price to install a unit without a permit; having a permit ensures work will be inspected.
- Three-day right to cancel—Be sure your contract includes a three-day right-to-cancel clause. One major exception to the three-day right to cancel is a “Service and Repair” contract that covers emergency repairs or services that are requested by the consumer on short notice. (More information about home improvement contracts can be found in the “Consumers” section of CSLB’s website.) Seniors (those 65 and older) have five days to cancel home solicitation contracts, home improvement contracts, Property Assessed Clean Energy assessment contracts, service and repair contracts, and more.
- Insurance—Verify that your contractor has workers’ compensation and general liability insurance, which can be verified at www.cslb.ca.gov or by calling (800) 321-CSLB (2752). Homeowners may be financially liable for the cost of medical care for workers who are injured on their property.
- Written contract—Insist on a written, fix-priced contract and don’t sign anything until you completely understand the terms.
- Down payment—Don’t pay more than 10% down or $1,000, whichever is less.
- Payment schedule—Don’t make payments ahead of the work. Make progress payments as the work is completed to your satisfaction. Keep a record of all payments.
- Permit inspections—Make sure that your local building department performs all required inspections, including in-progress and final inspections, and that there are not any correction notices or red tags. Inspections ensure proper installation.
- Final payment—Don’t make final payment before the final inspection has been conducted, the permit completed by the building department, and you are satisfied with the work.
- Documentation—Keep a file of all documents and photos related to your project.
For more information on heating, ventilating, and air conditioning (HVAC) system installations, or for general assistance on other major home-improvement and contracting projects and the licensed professionals who do them, check out CSLB’s HVAC fact sheets or visit www.cslb.ca.gov.