Financial Wellness

Helpful Hints on Hiring a Contractor

According to the California Contractors State License Board (CSLB), most consumers spend less time choosing a contractor for home improvements than they do choosing a car.

Many home improvement projects, such as updating a kitchen, adding an additional bathroom and updating windows or a roof, can be a more prudent investment than purchasing a new residence and sometimes more costly than purchasing a car. The key to a successful project is to do your homework before hiring a contractor.

Before Hiring a Contractor

It's important for consumers to take time and care in planning home improvement projects. Follow these steps to choose a contractor and avoid costly mistakes and misunderstandings.

Get referrals from family and friends

Ask about the quality of the work and the working relationship.

Get competitive bids

Compare bids from at least three different contractors. Make sure they are bidding on the same services and quality of products, and keep in mind that the lowest bid is not necessarily the best bid.

Check referrals and licenses

Contact referrals and ask them specific questions about the work they had done and their satisfaction level. Make sure the contractor is licensed with a current license in good standing. Visit the Contractors State License Board to verify if a contractor is licensed and for additional resources.

Get everything in writing

Read the contract carefully before signing. It should include:

  • Costs
  • Payment terms and schedules
  • List all materials, brand names, models, warranties and grades.

Don't let payments get ahead of work

The CSLB recommends putting no more than 10% down or $1,000, whichever is less. Keep records of all payments and make sure you are satisfied with the quality of work along the way.


A Home Equity Line of Credit from CEFCU offers you competitive rates, no application or processing fees, no prepayment penalties and no closing costs.

There is a lot to think about when it comes to being a homeowner. We're here to help. Start with a visit to our online Real Estate Loan Center for useful features to help you understand your options, estimate payments and compare rates and terms.

For Home Equity Lines of Credit: $1,000 fee is waived on new money loans or refinanced loans from another financial institution. Rates are variable and maximum Annual Percentage Rates is 14% on Traditional Lines and 18% on 10-Year Interest Only Lines. Credit limits may be extended, based on certain criteria.
Current CEFCU rates can be found on our Real Estate Loan Center. Real estate loans are available only for residential properties in the state of California. Certain exceptions may apply for jumbo loans or property types. Property insurance is required. All loans subject to credit approval. Rates and terms are subject to change without notice. CEFCU is an Equal Housing Lender. NMLS #626590.