How to Hire a Good Carpenter in Los Angeles
The typical home value in Los Angeles is over $900,000, making it one of the most attractive markets for real estate investors in the country. One way homeowners in the City have preserved or improved the value of their properties is by utilizing the services of professionals including qualified carpenters to renovate or remodel their homes. For example, Los Angeles homeowners typically make 60% to 80% of their kitchen remodel costs when selling their homes.
You can find good carpenters near you by asking friends, family, and even other home improvement and remodeling-related professionals for referrals. However, to be double sure any carpenter referred to you is duly qualified to complete your project, ask the following questions:
- Are You Licensed to Practice as a Carpenter in the City of Los Angeles?
- How Much Do You Charge Compared to Other Carpenters in the City of Los Angeles?
- Do You Comply with the City of Los Angeles Building Code for Carpentry Work?
- Will You Get the Home Improvement Permits as Required by the City of Los Angeles Code?
- What Kind of Carpentry Services Do You Offer?
- Do You Carry the Necessary Insurance Policy for Carpenters in the City of Los Angeles?
Are You Licensed to Practice as a Carpenter in the City of Los Angeles?
Carpenters that wish to provide services worth $500 and above to residents of the City of Los Angeles are required to obtain an occupational license from the California Contractors State Licensing Board before doing so. Providing any type of carpentry service in Los Angeles worth $500 and above, including the cost of labor and materials, without possessing a valid CSLB-issued license is considered a misdemeanor. First-time violators of this licensing requirement can face penalties of up to $15,000 in fines and jail time of up to six months, while repeat offenders typically face even steeper penalties.
The CSLB issues two types of specialty licenses to carpenters, namely the C-5 - Framing and Rough Carpentry Contractor and the C-6 - Cabinet, Millwork and Finish Carpentry Contractor licenses. Note that this agency also issues other woodwork-related licenses. Individuals that wish to obtain these licenses are typically required to provide acceptable and verifiable documentation proving that they have attained at least four years of journeyman-level carpentry-related experience within the last 10 years. These applicants will also be required to properly complete and submit an Application for Original Contractor License Form, and also pay any applicable licensing fees. Once these documents have been reviewed and accepted, the applicants will then have to sit for and pass a licensing examination, before being issued with the requested license. However, certain portions of this licensing examination may be waived for applicants that qualify for the CSLB's reciprocity program. Queries related to this program, as well as any other aspects of the CSLB's carpenter licensing process, can be directed to (800) 321-2752.
Before hiring any carpenter in Los Angeles, you should always make sure that this individual possesses a valid CSLB-issued license. You can do this by contacting the agency via phone number (800) 321-2752 or by utilizing the Check a License platform that it maintains and makes accessible to members of the public for this purpose.
How Much Do You Charge Compared to Other Carpenters in the City of Los Angeles?
The hourly rate that carpenters in the City of Los Angeles charge prospective clients is influenced by several factors, the most common of which are:
- The nature of the project
- The scope of this project
- The type of materials that the project will need, and the cost of these materials
- The amount of labor required to execute the project
Note that not all carpenters charge hourly rates, and some of these professionals may charge flat fees for their services. Nevertheless, it is ideal to get multiple estimates for your project from several carpenters near you, as this can help you determine the average cost of this project. Dong this also protects you from possible scammers and fraudulent contractors.
A carpenter in the City of Los Angeles earns an annual average wage of $67,330. The table below provides a comparison of the mean hourly wage for carpenters in the City of Los Angeles against those of carpenters in the rest of the State of California as well as across several other major American cities:Los Angeles Carpenters Mean Hourly Wage$32.37California Carpenters Mean Hourly Wage$31.22New York City Carpenters Mean Hourly Wage$34.16Chicago Carpenters Mean Hourly Wage$34.74Houston Carpenters Mean Hourly Wage$21.53Phoenix Carpenters Mean Hourly Wage$23.50Boston Carpenters Mean Hourly Wage$31.31
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Do You Comply with the City of Los Angeles Building Code for Carpentry Work?
The Los Angeles Building Code and the Los Angeles Residential Code are sets of rules and regulations that are designed to ensure the safety of the lives and property of the residents of the City of Los Angeles. These codes do this by regulating the construction, alteration, demolition, moving, repair, use, and maintenance of buildings and structures in the city as well as the quality of materials that are used in and around these buildings and structures.
When hiring a carpenter in the city, it is important to make sure that this individual is familiar with both the building code and the residential code. This is because these codes contain provisions that pertain to interior finishes, accessibility into buildings, means of egress, and other aspects of building and construction that are carpentry-related. Hiring a carpenter that is either unfamiliar with these codes or does not work per their respective provisions not only exposes you to possible code violations but also endangers your health and safety. While licensed carpenters are typically conversant with the requirements of the Los Angeles Building Code and the Los Angeles Residential Code, it is advisable to familiarize yourself with these codes as well before embarking on a major home improvement-related project. You can contact the Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety at (213) 482-0061 to get information on the city's building and residential codes and also to find out the provisions of these codes that may apply to your intended project.
Will You Get the Home Improvement Permits as Required by the City of Los Angeles Code?
Building permits are typically required for building, construction, and home improvement projects in the City of Los Angeles. These include carpentry-related projects like the installation of kitchen and bathroom cabinets, the alteration or replacement of wall framing around a doorway, the construction of wooden fences, and the replacement of window frames that are attached to walls. Nonetheless, exceptions are made for certain types of projects, such as:
- Construction, rehabilitation, or repair work on a rental income property, provided that this work costs less than $501 and does not affect the structural stability of a building
- The repair or replacement of missing or broken cabinet doors, drawers, or shelving, or the refinishing of cabinet surfaces
- The construction of wooden fences that are 10 feet high or less
The issuance of these building permits is handled by the Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety (LADBS), and they can be obtained in person at any of the following locations:
- Metro (Downtown) Office
- 201 and 221 N. Figueroa Street
- Los Angeles, CA 90012
- Van Nuys Office
- 6262 Van Nuys Boulevard
- 2nd Floor
- Room 251
- Van Nuys, CA 91401
- West LA Office
- 1828 Sawtelle Boulevard
- West Los Angeles, CA 90025
- South LA Office
- 8475 S. Vermont Avenue
- Los Angeles, CA 90044
- San Pedro Office
- 638 S. Beacon Street
- San Pedro, CA 90731
Individuals that wish to obtain these permits are typically required to complete the following steps:
- Utilize the city's ZIMAS online tool to confirm that the property where the project is expected to take place falls within Los Angeles city lines
- Prepare the necessary plans for the project
- Submit the project plans and a completed Application for Building Permit or Grading and Certificate of Occupancy form at the closest LADBS location or online via the LADBS's ePlanLA portal for plan checks and reviews. However, projects that fall under the city's express permit category do not require plan checks, and permits for these types of projects can be generated via a separate online portal.
Once the required documents have been submitted, they are reviewed by the LADBS before the requested permits are issued. Note that, depending on the nature and scope of the project, additional approvals may be required from other city departments and agencies.
Once the submitted documents have been reviewed and approved, the requested permits will be issued following the payment of all stipulated permit fees. After the permitted work commences, inspections will have to be scheduled at various stages to ensure compliance with the relevant provisions of the city's building code and residential code. These inspections are typically required before any relevant construction is concealed or covered,
You can make permitting and inspection-related queries in person at any of the LADBS's office locations between 7:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m., on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays, and 9:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. on Wednesdays. Note that the South LA and San Pedro locations of this department are typically closed between the hours of 12 noon and 1:00 p.m. on these days. Building permit and inspection-related queries can also be directed to the LADBS via phone numbers 311 and (213) 473-3231 for callers within Los Angeles and outside the Los Angeles area respectively.
What Kind of Carpentry Services Do You Offer?
While carpenters in the City of Los Angeles generally provide a wide variety of woodwork-related services, these services can be grouped into two broad categories, namely Rough Carpentry and Finish Carpentry. Rough carpentry involves work that is considered the skeleton of structures and is usually not visible after completion, such as rafters, beams, and posts. On the other hand, finish carpentry requires more finesse and detailing, as it generally involves carpentry work that is visible after completion, such as staircases, flooring, and trims. Furthermore, some of these carpenters may focus on specific areas of their trade, such as carpentry work for new home builds or remodels, cabinet and furniture making, carpentry work for commercial and industrial facilities, and decorative woodwork. Therefore, before you finalize any hiring arrangements with a carpenter near you, it is essential to make sure that this carpenter specializes in the specific area of carpentry that your project requires. You should also make sure that the carpenter in question has the proper tools and level of experience to perform the job to your satisfaction.
The average costs of these carpentry services in the City of Los Angeles is provided below:Interior trim and molding installation (with mid-grade trim or molding)$9.70 - $10.90 per linear footCarpentry framing (for unfinished home addition framing)$28.45 - $33.22 per square footCarpentry framing (for new home framing)$30 - $38Exterior trim installation/removal$31 - $47 per linear footExterior trim repair$1.5 - $2.75 per square footResidential carpentry$40 - $80 per hourBuilt-in wardrobe and furniture construction$150 - $250 per hour
Do You Carry the Necessary Insurance Policy for Carpenters in the City of Los Angeles?
Los Angeles carpenters do not have any statutory general liability insurance requirements. However, considering that carpentry involves the use of potentially hazardous handheld tools, it is always in your best interest to make sure that any carpenter you hire for your project is duly insured. It is estimated that at least eight percent of all compensable workplace injuries involve hand tools, with nail guns alone accounting for over 37,000 emergency room visits annually. You can find out if your carpenter has adequate insurance to cover any bodily harm or accidental damage to your property that may occur during your project by requesting a copy of this individual's insurance certificate. You should also take a step further by contacting the insurance company that issued this certificate to verify its validity.
Note that while Los Angeles carpenters do not have to carry general liability insurance, they are required to inform you of their liability insurance status. These professionals are also required to post and maintain bonds of at least $15,000 throughout the validity period of their licenses, and also carry workers' compensation insurance if they have at least one employee. You can get more information on the mandatory bonding and workers' compensation insurance requirements for Los Angeles carpenters by contacting the CSLB at (800) 321-2752.
In May 2020, Los Angeles County officials announced that they would no longer be financing the PACE home improvement loan program in the county following numerous scam and fraud-related complaints from homeowners in the area. A survey of over 30 local and state-level consumer protection agencies, including the LA County Department of Consumer and Business Affairs, suggests that home improvement complaints were the second most reported consumer complaints in the United States in 2020. These scams typically take many forms, and you must be able to recognize the signs of a fraudulent contractor when looking for carpenters near you. These signs include:
- The contractor arrives at your doorstep unsolicited and offers to carry out carpentry work for free or claims to have leftover materials that can be used on your property for a cheap price
- The contractor brushes off the need for a written contract or provides a contract that is sloppily written and difficult to read
- The contractor utilizes high-pressure sales and scare tactics to try to get you to retain their services
- The contractor does not have proper identification and cannot provide proof of licensing
You can ensure that you retain the services of a legit carpenter, and also protect yourself from possible home improvement scams, by taking the following steps:
- Always get a second opinion before undertaking expensive carpentry projects, especially if the contractor showed up at your doorstep unsolicited
- Always request written estimates for your project. It is also a good idea to get estimates from at least three carpenters
- Always insist on a written and well-detailed contract for your project before any work starts and review this contract thoroughly before signing it
- Always verify the licensing status of any carpenter that you intend to employ
- Always request references from the carpenter and check them. You can also look the carpenter up on review websites like the Better Business Bureau as well as the CSLB's Most Wanted webpage
- Always limit any upfront payments that you make to either $1,000 or 10% of the project's total value, whichever is less. You should also be wary of contractors that insist on cash payments
You can report home improvement and carpenter-related scams that occur in the City of Los Angeles via the following methods:
- By calling the LA City Attorney's Office at (213) 978-8070 or (877) 522-2737 or contacting this office online
- By calling the LA County Department of Consumer and Business Affairs at (213) 974-1452 or (800) 593-8222 or by filing a consumer complaint online with this office
- By filing a construction complaint with the CSLB
- By contacting the LA Police Department at (213) 928-8223
You can also take private legal action against the subject of your complaint by filing a lawsuit in an appropriate LA County Court. Note that you should always seek legal advice before taking any types of court-related actions, and the State Bar of California provides and maintains a Need Legal Help webpage that can help you with this.