How to Hire a Good Carpenter in San Diego
Carpentry is essential for the beautification of homes and environments. Carpenters are primarily responsible for constructing, erecting, installing, repairing structures and fixtures made using wood and similar materials. While carpenters are very important, as of 2019, only about 734,170 persons nationwide were employed in the profession, making them relatively scarce.
Data from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health shows that approximately 10,000 work-related finger amputations and injuries occur amongst workers who use chain saws, electric saws, hand grinders, and other power tools. Both of the above data suggest that carpenters are reasonably scarce, and the profession is relatively technical. Thus, you must hire only carpenters that are licensed within San Diego, California, and who are capable of handling the woodwork project you intend to complete. Hiring unlicensed carpenters put you at risk of violating the relevant city and state laws. Unlicensed carpenters would also ultimately perform sub-par jobs and violate the woodwork industry safety standards laid out by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration division.
When you begin the process of finding a competent carpenter, referrals from friends, family, and other reliable home improvement contractors will make the process much easier. The task of hiring an adequately licensed carpenter is ultimately your responsibility, and some questions can help you hire the most competent carpenter. These questions include:
- Are You Licensed to Practice as a Carpenter in the City of San Diego?
- How Much Do You Charge Compared to Other Carpenters in the City of San Diego?
- Do You Comply with the City of San Diego Building Code for Carpentry Work?
- Will You Get the Home Improvement Permits as Required by the City of San Diego Code?
- What Kind of Carpentry Services Do You Offer?
- Do You Carry the Necessary Insurance Policy for Carpenters in the City of San Diego?
Are You Licensed to Practice as a Carpenter in the City of San Diego?
Carpenters that wish to provide services to the residents of San Diego must be registered as Contractors with the California Contractors State License Board(CSLB), provided that the service to be delivered has a monetary value of $500 or more. Persons found performing work valued at more than $500 without the proper contractor license issued by the CSLB would be considered to have committed a misdemeanor offense. Offenders caught operating without a license can face potential sentences of up to six months in jail, fines of $500, or both, along with a possible administrative fine of up to $15,000. Repeat offenders would face harsher penalties for subsequent times they are caught performing woodworks without the proper license.
The CSLB licenses carpenters in two significant categories, namely C-5 - Framing and Rough Carpentry Contractor and the C-6 - Cabinet, Millwork, and Finish Carpentry Contractor. Applicants who wish to be licensed across any category must first demonstrate eligibility by submitting acceptable documentation to verify at least four years of work experience at the journeyman level that the applicants had attained at any point in the last ten years. After demonstrating eligibility, applicants must complete and submit an Application for Original Contractor License Form. All details must be filled in correctly and include an authentic and legally recognized name, social security number, and tax identification number. The application must be submitted with a $330 fee mandated by the CSLB.
After applying, the applicant would submit fingerprints as part of a compulsory criminal background check before writing and passing a mandatory law and business exam and a trade exam administered by the CSLB. The CSLB has a reciprocity program with Arizona, Louisiana, and Nevada, and applicants from these states holding active licenses might be eligible for waivers of some of the licensing requirements as determined by the CSLB. For questions you have about the reciprocity program or any other queries relating to carpenters and woodwork contractor licensing requirements, direct the questions to the CSLB on the phone at (800) 321-2752.
Before you finally hire a carpenter, it is essential to remember to verify their license. You can conduct verifications using the Check a Contractor License or Home Improvement Salesperson (HIS) Registration portal maintained by the CSLB. Alternatively, you can contact the CSLB with the details of the contractor's license to verify its authenticity.
How Much Do You Charge Compared to Other Carpenters in the City of San Diego?
Before you hire a carpenter, it is best to retrieve estimates from more than three different carpenters within your vicinity. Retrieving and cross-checking rates would give you a good insight into the project's costs you wish to execute. It is worthy to note that the cost of hiring a carpenter is affected by several factors like the nature of the project, the cost of materials to be used during the project, and the amount of human resources used during the project's duration.
A carpenter in the City of San Diego earns an annual average wage of $59,480. The table below provides a comparison of the mean hourly wage for carpenters in the City of San Diego against those of carpenters in the rest of California as well as across several other major American cities:San Diego Carpenters Mean Hourly Wage$28.60California Carpenters Mean Hourly Wage$31.22Los Angeles Carpenters Mean Hourly Wage$32.37Chicago Carpenters Mean Hourly Wage$34.74Houston Carpenters Mean Hourly Wage$21.53Sacramento Carpenters Mean Hourly Wage$28.08Philadelphia Carpenters Mean Hourly Wage$30.86
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Do You Comply with the City of San Diego Building Code for Carpentry Work?
Broadly, the California Building Code contains the set of rules designed to regulate any work involving the construction, alteration, movement, enlargement, replacement, repair, use, occupancy, maintenance, removal, and demolition of buildings and structures or any attachment for such building and structures throughout California. The code is instrumental since it ensures the safety of members of the public by ensuring the use of quality materials during building construction and maintenance. More specifically, Chapter 23 of the California Building code establishes the minimum acceptable requirements for constructing buildings or structures using wood and other wood-based products.
When vetting prospective carpenters for hire, one of the essential things you must look out for is a carpenter with a clear understanding of the Building Code and its technicalities. The San Diego Code Enforcement Division(CED) staff are responsible for examining projects and determining building code violations. The CED would issue a notice to correct the error where there are code violations. When the homeowner or contractor fails to heed the warning, the CED can enact the following measures:
- Abatement: When the deadline contained in the notice expires, the city can direct a third party to demolish the project and remove or secure the debris. The city can proceed to recover the demolition costs from the contractor or homeowner responsible for the project.
- Civil Penalties: The CED can impose fines amounting to a maximum daily penalty of $400,000.
- Judicial Remedies: The San Diego Attorney can file a criminal or civil case against parties responsible for the project on request by the CED.
Considering the severity of penalties imposed by the CED and San Diego when building code violations occur, you must ensure you only hire carpenters who understand the building code in-depth. You can contact the CED with any inquiries you may have about the requirements as stipulated in the building code by phone at (619) 236-5500. You can also request an investigation to ensure your project is compliant with the building code by filling the online request for investigation form. Alternatively, you can fill a request for investigation form available in English or Spanish and submit it by mail to:
- City of San Diego
- Code Enforcement Division
- Development Services Department
- 1222 1st Avenue
- 5th Floor, MS-511
- San Diego, CA 92101-4101
Will You Get the Home Improvement Permits as Required by the City of San Diego Code?
Typically, building permits are required before constructing new buildings or improving existing buildings or other structures in the building. Woodwork projects are subject to this law since they involve installing or modifying buildings and structures within a building. The City of San Diego provides some exemptions to certain types of projects. The projects that are exempt from requiring building permits include:
- Carpentry work involving the construction of one-story detached accessory buildings such as tool and storage sheds. However, the building must have a roof area of less than 120 square feet.
- Construction of fences that are less than 7 feet high.
- Any carpentry project involving paintings, papering, and similar finish work.
- Any carpentry repair that does not have an aggregate value of more than $1,000 and does not affect any existing electrical or mechanical constructions.
The San Diego Development Service Department(DSD) is responsible for issuing building permits within the City. Application for a building permit can be made online via the Open DSD portal per the apply for a permit online guide provided by the DSD. Alternatively, you can visit the DSD at any of the following locations and initiate an application:
- Development Service Department
- City Operations Building
- 1222 First Avenue
- San Diego, CA 92101
- Development Service Department
- Ridgehaven Office
- 9601 Ridgehaven Court, Suite 220
- San Diego, CA 92123
Upon obtaining a permit, the DSD requires all projects to be inspected before construction can kick off in earnest and after the project has been completed. However, construction cannot be approved unless it has been inspected and approved by the inspection staff at the DSD. You can schedule an inspection following the instructions contained in the project inspection process guide. You can also contact the DSD on matters concerning scheduling inspections, cancellation of inspections, or any inquiries regarding inspections on the phone at (858) 492-5070.
What Kind of Carpentry Services Do You Offer?
Carpenters operational in San Diego broadly offer two kinds of woodwork-related services. These services are Rough carpentry services or Finish Carpentry services, depending on the license they hold issued by the California Contractors State License Board(CSLB). Carpenters offering rough carpentry services focus on constructions involving the framing of a building. In contrast, finish carpenters offer carpentry services done inside a house after framing, sheathing, drywall, insulation, and wiring have been completed. Since carpenters broadly provide different kinds of services, you should take note of the services provided by the carpenter, and if the carpenter's services and skillset match the project, you wish to execute. You should also ensure that the carpenter has the proper tools and a certain experience level that matches the project you want to perform. After confirming the specialty of the carpenter, you should also check the rates of the woodwork-related project you are looking to begin. These are some average costs of carpentry services offered in San Diego:Interior trim and mold installation$9 - $11Unfinished home addition carpentry framing$27 - $33 per square foot.Unifinshed new home framing$29.35 - $36.69Exterior trim repairs per square foot$1 - $2Hourly carpenter rates for exterior trimming$22 - $45
Do You Carry the Necessary Insurance Policy for Carpenters in the City of San Diego?
Carpenters in San Diego are not required by law to have general liability insurance. However, data shows that in a study of 594 subjects who had been injured using power tools like chain saws, electric saws, hand grinders, and nail guns, 261 of these cases were hand and upper extremity injuries. Also, nail guns popularly used by carpenters during wood-work-related projects are responsible for more than 37,000 emergency injuries yearly, with 68% of these emergencies involving workers. In some cases, these nail gun injuries resulted to the death of workers. Considering the rates of injuries that occur while using tools in woodwork-related projects, it becomes imperative only to hire carpenters who have adequate insurance covering any bodily harm or damage to properties that can occur during your project.
Irrespective of the fact that San Diego carpenters are not required to carry general liability insurance, they must disclose their liability insurance status to consumers by writing, at the point of submitting a bid for the contract. Carpenters are also required by law to maintain a $15,000 bond that would cover all jobs until the bond has depleted. Contractors are also required to carry comprehensive workers' compensation insurance if they have one or more employees. For further clarity about carpenters insurance and bonding requirements in San Diego, you can reach out to the California Contractors State License Board(CSLB) at (800) 321-2752 and make further inquiries.
In 2019, the Contractors State License Board (CSLB) conducted a contractor sweep in several major cities in California, including San Diego. The sweep led the CSLB to begin legal actions against more than one hundred and sixty licensed and unlicensed contractors, including carpenters, in contravention of State laws. Thus, it is appropriate to conclude that home improvement contractors like carpenters can sometimes act in violation of state laws and, in some instances, try to scam consumers while breaking state laws. Thus, you must take precautionary steps to ensure that the carpenter you wish to hire does not have any indictments relating to fraud or any current standing scam charges. In taking precautions against getting scammed, some signs would indicate a carpenter might be up to no good. These signs include:
- Any carpenter that is operating using another carpenter's contractor license.
- Carpenters performing work with fake, suspended, or expired contractor licenses.
- Any carpenter that does not have a permanent address, there is a likelihood the carpenter is fraudulent.
- Any carpenter who utilizes pressure tactics or recommends predatory loan services for you to finance your woodwork project.
- A carpenter who submits a bid that is far too cheap or expensive compared to bids you received from other carpenters,
Keeping these signs in mind, these are some steps you can take to avoid getting tricked by a carpenter or home improvement contractor:
- Ensure you verify the carpenter's license using the Contractors State License Board's (CSLB) check a license portal or by contacting the Board at (800) 321-2752.
- Take out time to seek bids from more than three carpenters
- Be very deliberate in documenting your communications and negotiations with the carpenter leading up to signing contracts.
- Never feel pressured to make a deal. If a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is.
- Carefully review all contracts before signing. Also, if a carpenter presents a blank document for you to sign, refuse to do so vehemently.
- When discussing with the carpenter, try to avoid discussing your personal finance and details. If the discussion does not involve elements of the project, it is best to avoid it.
- Ask the carpenter for more than two references from previous clients.
- Make private consultations with suppliers and financial institutions the carpenter works with to ensure the carpenter is financially responsible.
- When making payments, do so with checks or credit cards. Cash payments are hard to trace and do not serve as proof in court.
Where you have a complaint against a carpenter, you should file a construction complaint with the CSLB. You can also contact the CSLB at (800) 321-2752 with complaints about a carpenter. If you feel the CSLB has not handled your complaints to your satisfaction and if the value in dispute is less than $10,000, you can file a small claims case with the San Diego Superior Court. Before filing your lawsuit, you should contact a lawyer for legal advice regarding your case. You can reach out to the Central Division or the Small Case Advisor at the San Diego Superior Court with queries on steps to take to file a small claims case at (858) 634-1919 and (858) 634-1777, respectively.