Many replacement window and door companies, garage door companies, and screen companies in San Diego will advertise that they are “licensed,” but what does that mean exactly, and what can a license number tell you about that company? Well, quite a lot actually. Most San Diego homeowners won’t take the time to run the license number through the California Contractors State License Board website, but doing so (which only takes a minute) can give you some valuable information. Contractors are required to list their license number on all business cards, bid sheets and contracts, so if you don’t see it, ask for it.
The first and most obvious thing running the number will tell you is if the company is, in fact, licensed with the state as a contractor or Home Improvement Salesperson (HIS). The license status should be listed as “current and active.” If it is listed as “inactive,” that means the company is still licensed, but is not currently allowed to perform work in the State of California. An “expired” license means the company or individual was licensed at one time, but for whatever reason did not maintain it. It is highly recommended that you not use a company or individual with an inactive or expired license (or with no license at all). While they may be able to offer you a lower price for the work, it is not worth it for the liability to which you may be subjecting yourself.
California licensed contractors are required to have the proper insurance and bonds. Insurance protects you financially if a worker is injured on your property. If the company has no insurance, you could personally be on the hook for any medical bills if your homeowners insurance doesn’t cover them. You want to hire a company that carries both workers’ compensation insurance and general liability insurance. Bonds protect you if the work done on your house is shoddy or incomplete, or if the company doesn’t pay its subcontractors. By checking company’s license number, you will be able to see if the company is both licensed and bonded.
Finally, the license number will tell you if the company or individual is a specialist or more of a general contractor. For example, a company specializing in replacement windows will be classified under “Glazing.” Companies that don’t specialize will be classified as a “General Building Contractor” or have some other classification(s). Some San Diego homeowners prefer to hire a window and door specialist, while others want more of a general contractor who can complete multiple home improvement projects at the same time.
So make sure you check the license number of anyone that gives you a bid on replacement windows or doors, garage doors, screens, etc. It is well worth the time that it takes, and it could protect you in the long run.