Guide to Hiring a Contractor


The following is provided as information to homeowners who are trying to evaluate the importance of hiring a licensed contractor as compared to one that is unlicensed. Alpen Tree Experts is a licensed contractor. We provide this information to you as a resource and we encourage you to visit California’s Contractor State License Board website at to verify the following and make an informed decision.

Our professionalism makes a difference and can save you a tremendous amount of time, money, and stress as compared to working with unlicensed contractors. We thank you for considering us.

Unlicensed Contractors.
California residents have had such difficulty with unlicensed contractors that the State of California has enacted laws which provide that unlicensed contractors have no right to payment in most cases. Furthermore, unlicensed activity may result in fines and criminal prosecution.

No person engaged in the business or acting in the capacity of a Contractor, may bring or maintain any action, or recover in law or equity in any action, in any court of this state for the collection of compensation for the performance of any act or contract where a license is required…Business and Professions Code § 7031 in relevant part.

Some Requirements for Contractors on Residential Works of Home Improvement.

  • Licensed contractors must use a State of California statutorily-compliant contract, which will be approximately 6 pages long.
  • Licensed contractors may only take a deposit of $1,000 or 10% of the contract price, whichever is less.
  • Change Orders must be in writing.
  • All subcontractors must also be licensed.
  • Workers Compensation Insurance for all non-owner employees.

Links for Homeowners
If you want to find out if an individual is properly licensed, please call the Contractors State License Board at 1-800-321-CSLB (2752). More information about hiring a licensed Contractor can be located on the Department of Consumer Affairs Web Site at:

Here is a link to consumer information regarding unlicensed contractors:

Here is a link to that will allow you to report unlicensed activity:

Here is a link for guides and pamphlets:

The Dangers of Hiring an Unlicensed Contractor
California State Law requires anyone who contracts to do construction work to be licensed by the Contractors State License Board in the license category in which the contractor is going to be working (see if the total price of the job is $500 or more (including labor and materials). Licensed contractors are regulated by laws designed to protect the public. If you contract with someone who does not have a license, the Contractors State License Board may be unable to assist you with your complaint. Your only remedy against an unlicensed contractor may be in civil court, and you may be liable for damages arising out of any injuries to the unlicensed contractor or his or her employees. Protect yourself by avoiding unlicensed contractors.

Early Warning Signs of an Unlicensed Contractor

  • A large down payment is requested before work begins.
  • Many requests for money during early phases of construction.
  • You, as the homeowner, are asked to obtain the permit.
  • Verbal contract only, the person is not willing to put all terms in writing.
  • The contractor does not have proof of insurance.
  • You are informed that the job does not require a permit or inspection. (You can always call your local County Permit Center to verify if a permit is actually required.)
  • The contractor is only willing to work on weekends or after hours.
  • Someone other than the person or company contracting to do the work obtains the permit.
  • Contractor displays only an occupational license. (An occupation license is not a license to perform contracting work.)
  • You are asked to make checks payable to an individual when the contract is with a company, or asked to make payments in cash, or to make the check payable to “cash”.
  • Newspaper/flyers or yellow page ads where only the telephone number appears and there is not a business address.
  • License numbers are not on the vehicle, business cards, contracts, flyers, newspaper or yellow page advertisements.

You, the homeowner, can also ASK QUESTIONS Ask what type of license they have. The license should be issued by the Contractors State License Board.
Ask to see a copy of their license. In order to lawfully engage in contracting, a contractor must be licensed by the Contractors State License Board.
Ask for a copy of their liability and workman’s compensation exemption or insurance. Licensed contractors must have general liability and workers compensation exemption or have insurance in force at all times.

Remember an occupational license or handyman license is not a license to perform contracting work. A Handyman is not a licensed contractor and cannot obtain building permits.

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