Hire smart. L&I can help.
Learn what you can do to get the job done right — the first time.
- Verify their contractor registration.
- Get three written bids.
- Don't pay in full until the job gets done.
Choose your project:
Like any remodel, you're going to collect bids. But are you going to fall in love with the one that's super-low?
Often, a low bid is not the least-expensive route. It may not include all of the needed labor and materials other bidders included.
You want a solid, registered contractor with great references from people in your community.
Subcontractors? You can also check them out online.
Planning a bathroom or kitchen remodel?
Remember: This contractor will be in your home for an extended period of time. Do plenty of research before signing a contract for a major project.
Love that low bid? Does it include everything promised by the higher bid, such as, for example, second paint coats or the cost of the materials you specifically requested?
Will a certified plumber do the plumbing?
You want a solid, registered contractor with great references and a good reputation.
Need concrete work?
Beware of door-to-door paving companies offering great deals and on-the-spot service because they have "leftover materials" or are already "in the neighborhood."
Reputable contractors expect to be contacted through advertising and word-of-mouth. They expect you will want an upfront bid, and won't expect you to make a snap decision.
Wiring problems? Broken fixture?
For your safety and your family's, you will need to hire an experienced, registered electrical contractor who is licensed to do the work. Any employees doing the work on your home must be licensed electricians.
A licensed electrical contractor will ensure work is done to code, permitted and inspected as required.
You could jeopardize your insurance coverage if there's fire after non-permitted/inspected electrical work.
Finally building that garage?
Whether it's shelter for a special car, a shop, a storage room, or a deluxe "man-cave," it's your dream. Don't trust it to just anybody.
Hire a registered contractor who will let you know upfront who the electrical sub-contractor will be and exactly what permits are required.
It's okay to agree to a down payment, but continue to pay only as parts of the project are completed — according to a signed plan.
Downspouts and gutters a leaky mess? Water pooling in your basement or back yard?
Make sure you hire a registered contractor to fix the problem. An amateur job could leave you with a soaked foundation, a flooded septic field, or even water in your wall.
If a septic drain field is involved, make sure the contractor is also registered to do this work with your county health department.
Hot water tank quit?
Did you know that a hot water heater can violently explode if not properly installed and maintained?
It's very important to hire a registered contractor that employs certified plumbers to install, replace or service your water heater.
Don't forget to ask your power company about energy rebates!
Ready to paint the house?
Be sure to hire a registered contractor who provides you with a detailed, written bid that includes everything, including scraping, priming, at least two coats, and cleanup. Some contractors will leave out important items to make the bid appear unbelievably low.
Just need a minor fix? Or are you installing a hot tub, hot water heater, sprinkler system or new shower? Make sure you hire a registered contractor and that a certified plumber does the actual work.
Plumbers are state-certified after hundreds of hours of classroom and on-the-job apprenticeship training.
In fact, the training is so critical, your homeowner's policy might not cover any damage caused by an uncertified plumber.
Roof need repairs?
Unfortunately, many fly-by-night companies are out there, offering super-low bids on roofing jobs by cutting corners and using inexperienced and uninsured labor.
You don't want uninsured workers on your roof. If they get hurt, you could be liable for their medical bills.
Ask detailed questions about other jobs they've done, the materials they use, their crew, and how they meet safety requirements.
New wood or pellet stove, or fireplace?
If you’re installing a wood stove, pellet stove or fireplace, a permit is required from L&I. Make sure this item is installed by a registered contractor who knows any insulation and clearance codes.
The company that regularly pumps your tank does not have to be a registered contractor.
But if your septic drain field is failing, you need to carefully choose a registered contractor who specializes in building drain fields — and who works with an experienced drain field designer.
These are very expensive and often complex projects that require electrical permits, certified plumbers, and environmental health permitting.
Installing sprinklers or a pond?
A lawn maintenance company can mow and prune. But a registered landscaper or general contractor is needed for installing a new garden feature or sprinkler system.
This type of project is likely to involve plumbing and electrical work. Get a feel for your contractor's experience by asking about permitting requirements and subcontractors who will be working on the project.
Big storm? Trees down?
Power line down, too? Don't touch! The line could still be live and kill you.
Need more than a pruning lopper Pruning shears to take down or cut up the trees or tree limbs? Don't try it yourself.
You need to hire a very experienced, registered contractor. This is dangerous, specialized work, especially near buildings and power lines
Time for new windows?
If you've found the windows you want, make sure you are arranging the installation with a registered contractor. If the installation is being subcontracted, get the name of that contractor too.
Then you'll be able to check them out on L&I's verify contractor registration lookup site.
Remember: When you check online, you will at least know that the contractor has posted a minimum bond and purchased liability insurance — and that their registration hasn't been suspended by L&I.