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Can I file a construction dispute with an independent contractor?

It is the worst scenario you could possibly imagine. You hire a contractor to do construction improvements on your home, whether small-scale retouching or a major remodel. The contractor, who signed an agreement with you as an independent operator, charges you for a quality of work they do not deliver. Jobs are left unfinished, work quality is poor and the outcome may even be more unsightly than what they were hired to repair or remodel. Since you are working with an independent contractor and not a construction company, can you still file a construction dispute with the state of California?

The answer, per the state Department of Justice website, is yes. They provide forms to file a dispute or complaint with the Contractors State License Board either by online form or by mail, and offer a number of tips on hiring ethical contractors and spotting scams. First, they advise that you only hire licensed contractors, and offer an online lookup to verify a contractor's license number. Do not be afraid to ask a contractor for their license number before committing to anything; a contractor who refuses is likely not one to be trusted.

Warning signs of a scam include random door-to-door propositions for work at a highly reduced price, free inspections that result in shocking discoveries and pressure for rapid repair, excessively high down payments and insistence on confirming a contract without time for competitive bidding or comparisons. Take precautions to protect yourself by being wary of any behavior that sets off red flags. Avoid working with any contractor who is not willing to allow for fully transparent and ethical documentation of all licensure and contract expectations.

This post has been for information purposes only and should not be misconstrued as legal advice.

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