Frequently Asked Question

Do I have to use a licensed contractor on my construction project?

Yes, not only you should always use a licensed contractor but for any projects over $500 you must have a written proposal and for anything over $1,000 a written contract.

What is a mechanics lien?

A mechanics lien is a mechanism by which a contractor can assure they get paid for the work they do on a construction or design project that adds value to the property in question.

My contractor gave me a written estimate at the start of the project, but now he is billing me for more than the estimate.

The Contractor should give you a “Change Order” for any changes in the project whether you ask for it or they think it is necessary.  A  change order should specify the scope of the additional work and the price increase.  A good contract will specify that a change order has to be authorized by the owner before the contractor is entitled to proceed and ask for additional payment.

Is a verbal construction contract legally valid?

In California verbal contracts are valid. However, since people have different recollections and understandings of their agreements, we do not advise it.  Always make sure there is written evidence of any contacts. Any construction contracts over $500 must be in writing. For Home Improvement Contracts, there are specific requirements and language required so a verbal contract is not recommended.

Is a construction agreement on text messaging valid?

Yes, it can be so long as all the terms are clear, the scope of work is specified and the price is also specified. For Home Improvement Contracts, there are specific requirements and language required so it is very hard to satisfy such requirements in text messages.

I’m a contractor, how can I collect money owed?

The following steps are recommended. For a general contractor who has direct contract with the owner:
1. Send a complete final invoice, with the work specified and the amount mentioned for each item of work, give them a deadline to pay

2. Make sure you make note of the last day you worked on the project.

3. Within 90 days of the last day, record a mechanics lien, and serve it on the property owner as well as who contracted with you (  may be a tenant)

4. Within 90 days of the recording of the mechanics lien, a lawsuit must be filed to foreclose on the lien or the lien will be extinguished.

For a subcontractor who only has a direct contract with a general contractor, within 20 days of the START of the project, a preliminary notice of intent to lien should be served on the owner and the general contractor, then do all the steps above.

What is the Controlling law Code §7150?

This chapter defines the legal parameters of a home improvement contractor and dictates what work they can and cannot perform.

What is the Definition of Home Improvement §7151?

This chapter defines “Home improvement” as any repair, remodel, alteration, conversion, or modernizing of a residential property. It includes construction, erection, replacement, or improvement of driveways, swimming pools, including spas and hot tubs, terraces, patios, awnings, storm windows, landscaping, fences, porches, garages, fallout shelters, basements, and other improvements of the structures or land.


5Ghassemian Law provided thoroughly constructed and effective legal strategies for successful outcomes in the complex world of construction law for our small company. Core competence, due diligence, and a commitment to client needs are strengths that inspire confidence and keep producing results when it counts most.

Peter Greenberger

Pacwest Construction and Development Inc

Mahyar and her team possess a wealth of construction and business law expertise. Expertise to both guide a client away from litigation and, if not possible, to skillfully represent them in court.

Thierry Montoya

AlvaradoSmith APC

Mahyar Ghassemian and her firm are the best construction dispute litigators and negotiators in the industry. Mahyar is an expert in this area. Her firms knows the law and are very tenacious in obtaining the best results for their clients. I have been involved in very lengthy litigation as co-counsel in a very big case and jury trial. Mahyar is one of the hardest working and most effective advocates I have ever had the privilege of working with.

Paul Hoffman

Hoffman Legal Corporation

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