Your Home Improvement

By Robert Lamoureux

Last update: Saturday, June 3rd, 2017

Hi Robert,

Was I really excited to find out you are the Robert in the Signal?! Love and read your articles every week! Todd Hall at Hallway Plumbing recommended IMS…. And I spoke to Mikey in your office too.

I need a patio cover and some small block walls to make my backyard look nice. She said there was an article where you mentioned one company specifically. I would appreciate any other referrals.

I got one estimate and it was way too high; not happy through a general contractor (guess they added their fee).

We are retired seniors and want to be so careful who I hire. Let me ask you. I got a referral for one company and the bid was OK. When I did my homework, the Contractor’s Board said the contractor was cited for asking more deposit on a job than he should have. I asked if there were any other complaints, she said no.

She was unable to provide more info but I asked is this just a minor deal and she was able to say yes.

Next it shows that the owner’s bond had expired. So I called and they said that “his bond was canceled in April 2017.” I asked, “couldn’t he just renew it and be OK to hire?” His answer was: “Be careful, I would not hire him.” He wouldn’t go into detail. So are these red flags I should stay away?

The owner of the company is going to bring me plans, and written estimate and he will pull permits. There are no complaints with BBB, yelp, etc.

I called the city and the permit department said that they do all the investigating to make sure the contractor is licensed, bonded and insured for workman’s comp.

So in your opinion, what would you do?

I would appreciate any more advice and more referrals. This is a simple small job of a patio cover with a fan or lights. I have called several construction companies and not received any response or call backs. Please help.

– Thanks, Tammy K.

Tammy,

Thank you for being one of our readers. Feel free to surrender an address and our office will send you a Signal/ IMS coffee mug.

When shopping around, I recommend that you don’t shop the cheapest guy; you get what you pay for as they say.

If two or three of the reputable guys are close in cost then you’re probably right in the ball park. You eventually have to trust someone.

The board is right, don’t use someone that doesn’t stay current with their insurance or bonds as they are trouble waiting to happen.

I’ve been in this industry for thirty six years and I’ve seen all the scenarios. Deal with someone who’s on the up and up. I really don’t have many referrals that I can send your way. Just be aware of the state laws, do your homework like you did and never pay them until the job is completed and that you are happy with the workmanship.

They can ask for a deposit upon the commencement of the work and a progress payment along the way.

Hold at least 25 percent of the job payment until completed.

Don’t listen to sob stories as they will sing them to you along the way, trust me.

The workmanship includes the cleanup of the work area, don’t let them leave you with a mess to clean up. Best of luck.

Hi Robert,

I live in Saugus, am an original owner and we live in a home who’s driveway is slightly inclined.

One side of the driveway has sunken over the last several years; it literally looks like a dent in it, but a good sized one.

The driveway is, if you will, divided into 4 sections and the bottom right section is dented like a car crash. We have never put a heavy truck onto this driveway and there doesn’t seem to be any water issues, it’s always dry.

I’ve attached photos of this area for your review, can you tell me what we do to determine the source of this?

I know we need to get a concrete contractor in to fix it but I’m more concerned with the reason that this happened, so that we can fix it and not have it happen again.

– Luis R.

Luis,

The driveway sinking is no doubt caused by the improper compaction of dirt during the original installation, if you are sure that it isn’t a water issue.

Let your concrete contractor know this and he will make sure he compacts it well, during repairs/replacement.

Be sure he pins the surrounding edges, to prevent any further movement and it will also keep the sides together, especially during a repair. This is just added security to minimize movement.

Good luck with your project.

Robert,

We live in Newhall in an older home, and have always had a porch light that works great, and we’ve changed it out over the years.

The problem is that we have no driveway lights and we really want to change this.

I am not electrically inclined and wouldn’t know where to begin so this will be a contractor’s project.

Due to reading your articles I’m pretty leery of having anything done without prior knowledge of what is expected, so that I can then put those expectations onto whomever I hire.

For something like this though, are permits required? Do I need to make sure that the contractor that I hire pulls permits in order to set up the lights at the garage area?

Thank you for all of your help and insight, it truly helps folks like us to take good care of our homes and to not be taken advantage of in the process.

– Nick S.

Nick,

Whenever you are doing electrical, I always recommend permits.

There are codes that must be followed for safety/ fire reasons, and the city of Santa Clarita’s Building and Safety is there to protect by ensuring that all work is done properly.

Beware; there are also contractors out there that hold a General B-1 license that will tell consumers that they can do electrical.

This is not true, they must hold a C-10 license to come to your home and do electrical installation and or repairs.

Please only hire a C-10 electrical contractor for these installations and repairs. Good luck with your project.

Robert Lamoureux has 38 years of experience as a general contractor, with separate licenses in electrical and plumbing contracting. He owns IMS Construction Inc. in Valencia. His opinions are his own, not necessarily those of The Signal. Opinions expressed in this column are not meant to replace the recommendations of a qualified contractor after that contractor has made a thorough visual inspection. Email questions to Robert at robert@imsconstruction.com.

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Your Home Improvement

Hi Robert,

Was I really excited to find out you are the Robert in the Signal?! Love and read your articles every week! Todd Hall at Hallway Plumbing recommended IMS…. And I spoke to Mikey in your office too.

I need a patio cover and some small block walls to make my backyard look nice. She said there was an article where you mentioned one company specifically. I would appreciate any other referrals.

I got one estimate and it was way too high; not happy through a general contractor (guess they added their fee).

We are retired seniors and want to be so careful who I hire. Let me ask you. I got a referral for one company and the bid was OK. When I did my homework, the Contractor’s Board said the contractor was cited for asking more deposit on a job than he should have. I asked if there were any other complaints, she said no.

She was unable to provide more info but I asked is this just a minor deal and she was able to say yes.

Next it shows that the owner’s bond had expired. So I called and they said that “his bond was canceled in April 2017.” I asked, “couldn’t he just renew it and be OK to hire?” His answer was: “Be careful, I would not hire him.” He wouldn’t go into detail. So are these red flags I should stay away?

The owner of the company is going to bring me plans, and written estimate and he will pull permits. There are no complaints with BBB, yelp, etc.

I called the city and the permit department said that they do all the investigating to make sure the contractor is licensed, bonded and insured for workman’s comp.

So in your opinion, what would you do?

I would appreciate any more advice and more referrals. This is a simple small job of a patio cover with a fan or lights. I have called several construction companies and not received any response or call backs. Please help.

– Thanks, Tammy K.

Tammy,

Thank you for being one of our readers. Feel free to surrender an address and our office will send you a Signal/ IMS coffee mug.

When shopping around, I recommend that you don’t shop the cheapest guy; you get what you pay for as they say.

If two or three of the reputable guys are close in cost then you’re probably right in the ball park. You eventually have to trust someone.

The board is right, don’t use someone that doesn’t stay current with their insurance or bonds as they are trouble waiting to happen.

I’ve been in this industry for thirty six years and I’ve seen all the scenarios. Deal with someone who’s on the up and up. I really don’t have many referrals that I can send your way. Just be aware of the state laws, do your homework like you did and never pay them until the job is completed and that you are happy with the workmanship.

They can ask for a deposit upon the commencement of the work and a progress payment along the way.

Hold at least 25 percent of the job payment until completed.

Don’t listen to sob stories as they will sing them to you along the way, trust me.

The workmanship includes the cleanup of the work area, don’t let them leave you with a mess to clean up. Best of luck.

Hi Robert,

I live in Saugus, am an original owner and we live in a home who’s driveway is slightly inclined.

One side of the driveway has sunken over the last several years; it literally looks like a dent in it, but a good sized one.

The driveway is, if you will, divided into 4 sections and the bottom right section is dented like a car crash. We have never put a heavy truck onto this driveway and there doesn’t seem to be any water issues, it’s always dry.

I’ve attached photos of this area for your review, can you tell me what we do to determine the source of this?

I know we need to get a concrete contractor in to fix it but I’m more concerned with the reason that this happened, so that we can fix it and not have it happen again.

– Luis R.

Luis,

The driveway sinking is no doubt caused by the improper compaction of dirt during the original installation, if you are sure that it isn’t a water issue.

Let your concrete contractor know this and he will make sure he compacts it well, during repairs/replacement.

Be sure he pins the surrounding edges, to prevent any further movement and it will also keep the sides together, especially during a repair. This is just added security to minimize movement.

Good luck with your project.

Robert,

We live in Newhall in an older home, and have always had a porch light that works great, and we’ve changed it out over the years.

The problem is that we have no driveway lights and we really want to change this.

I am not electrically inclined and wouldn’t know where to begin so this will be a contractor’s project.

Due to reading your articles I’m pretty leery of having anything done without prior knowledge of what is expected, so that I can then put those expectations onto whomever I hire.

For something like this though, are permits required? Do I need to make sure that the contractor that I hire pulls permits in order to set up the lights at the garage area?

Thank you for all of your help and insight, it truly helps folks like us to take good care of our homes and to not be taken advantage of in the process.

– Nick S.

Nick,

Whenever you are doing electrical, I always recommend permits.

There are codes that must be followed for safety/ fire reasons, and the city of Santa Clarita’s Building and Safety is there to protect by ensuring that all work is done properly.

Beware; there are also contractors out there that hold a General B-1 license that will tell consumers that they can do electrical.

This is not true, they must hold a C-10 license to come to your home and do electrical installation and or repairs.

Please only hire a C-10 electrical contractor for these installations and repairs. Good luck with your project.

Robert Lamoureux has 38 years of experience as a general contractor, with separate licenses in electrical and plumbing contracting. He owns IMS Construction Inc. in Valencia. His opinions are his own, not necessarily those of The Signal. Opinions expressed in this column are not meant to replace the recommendations of a qualified contractor after that contractor has made a thorough visual inspection. Email questions to Robert at robert@imsconstruction.com.