Get Quotes from Top Carpenters in San Francisco, CA

Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Carpenter in San Francisco

Old and worn-out windows, doors, and woodworks not only make your home unappealing aesthetically, but they can lead to loss of heat, thereby requiring that you use more energy to heat your home. Accordingly, it is estimated that maintaining and improving your home's wooden structures can help save over $500 on your energy bills, significantly increase your satisfaction and happiness, and improve your home's market value. However, to achieve the advantages of improved wooden structures in your home, it is best to hire an experienced carpenter, as opposed to going the DIY route.

Generally, people seek recommendations from friends, family, and neighbors when looking for a good carpenters who can help fix and improve things around the home. Although that is an excellent way to go, finding answers to the following questions will also help you hire the best carpenter around:

Are You Licensed to Practice as a Carpenter in San Francisco?

No carpenter is permitted to carry out any carpentry work that exceeds $500, including labor and materials, in San Francisco without being duly licensed. Unlicensed carpenters caught handling any project worth $500 or more would face severe penalties, ranging from fines to jail terms. However, a license is not needed to sell or install finished products that do not become a fixed part of the structure. Additionally, owner-builders can do carpentry work in their homes without a license.

The California Contractors State License Board (CSLB) is responsible for licensing carpenters across San Francisco, and the relevant carpentry licenses are classified into C-5 Framing and Rough Carpentry Contractors and C-6 Cabinet, Millwork and Finish Carpentry Contractors. To obtain any of these licenses, interested applicants must be at least 18 years of age and must have at least four years of journeyman-level experience in carpentry works within the last ten years.

Additionally, interested applicants are required to take and pass the necessary licensing exams and satisfy bond requirements. Having met these requirements, interested applicants can submit a completed Application for Original Contractors License Form to the CSLB and pay the necessary application fees. Applicants should note that they will be required to submit a Certification of Work Experience Form alongside their application. Interested persons can call the CSLB at (800) 321-2752 if they need more information regarding carpentry licensing or want to make inquiries regarding general licensing processes.

To ascertain that the carpenter you are considering is licensed, you can utilize the CSLB's check a license portal or contact the Board at (800) 321-2752.

How Much Do You Charge Compared to Other Carpenters in San Francisco?

Hiring a carpenter in San Francisco typically costs about $36.44 per hour. However, this hourly rate will vary depending on several factors, including the scope of the project and your location. This is why it is best to always go for carpenters nearby to reduce additional costs. However, for a more accurate estimate, ask for price quotes from at least three carpenters in your area.

A carpenter in San Francisco earns an annual average wage of $75,800. The table below provides a comparison of the mean hourly wage for carpenters in San Francisco against those of carpenters in the rest of the State of California as well as across several other major American cities:

San Francisco Carpenters Mean Hourly Wage
California Carpenters Mean Hourly Wage
New York City Carpenters Mean Hourly Wage
Denver Carpenters Mean Hourly Wage
Seattle Carpenters Mean Hourly Wage
Chicago Carpenters Mean Hourly Wage
San Antonio Carpenters Mean Hourly Wage
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Do You Comply with the San Francisco Building Code for Carpentry Work?

The applicable Code primarily governing carpentry works in San Francisco is the 2019 San Francisco Building Code. The Code establishes minimum requirements for building systems to protect the health, safety, and general welfare of the residents of San Francisco during construction-related activities. The Code covers lightning and ventilation, structural strength, means of egress facilities, sanitation, and energy conservation regarding new and existing buildings.

The provisions of this Code cover the construction, alteration, enlargement, replacement, repair, use and occupancy, location, maintenance, and demolition of every building or structure or any appurtenances connected or attached to such buildings or structures throughout San Francisco. This includes carpentry and woodworking-related activities. Hence, residents should consider getting a carpenter with knowledge of the 2019 San Francisco Building Code. Besides the fact that compliance with this Code improves residents' safety, carpentry works done in violation of this Code attract a civil penalty of up to $500 for each day such violation.

For more information on the San Francisco Building Code and its requirements, you can contact the San Francisco Department of Building Inspection (DBI) at (628) 652-3200 or via email.

Will You Get the Home Improvement Permits as Required by the San Francisco Code?

Per the San Francisco Municipal Code, all carpenters must have the necessary permits before performing any carpentry work in the city. However, minor carpentry works done in the home or one-story detached accessory buildings or structures can be carried out without permits. Additionally, permits are not needed for reroofing without the installation, repair, or removal of roof sheathing if the total surface area of the roof reroofed does not exceed 25% of the entire surface area of the roof.

The San Francisco Department of Building Inspection (DBI) is responsible for issuing permits to carpenters in the city. To obtain a permit, applicants can submit a completed Application For Building Permit Additions, Alterations, Or Repairs Form to the San Francisco Permit Center and pay the necessary permit and inspection fees. Additionally, applicants might be required to submit plans, diagrams, computations and specifications, and other data alongside the application. After the application, plans, and specifications have been reviewed and found to comply with the relevant city codes and the necessary fees have been paid, a permit can be issued by the city's Building Official. Every permit issued expires if carpentry work does not commence within the days indicated in the permit from the date it was issued or if the work is suspended or abandoned at any time after the work is initiated.

All carpentry work for which a permit is required must be subject to inspection during and after the work by the city's Building Official. The carpentry work must remain accessible and exposed for inspection purposes until approved by the Building Official. It is the permittee's duty to notify the DBI that the carpentry work is ready for inspection. Inspections can be scheduled online or by calling the DBI Inspection Services at (628) 652-3401. Several inspections will be required while the work is in progress, but a final inspection must be done when the work is completed to ascertain that the carpentry work is done in compliance with the San Francisco Building Code. If there is a violation of the Building Code, a notice will be sent to the permittee. When the corrections are made, the permittee can then apply for reinspections. The first reinspection requires no fees, but fees may be charged for subsequent re-inspections.

For more information or inquiries regarding building permits and inspections, you can contact the San Francisco Department of Building Inspection (DBI) at (628) 652-3200 or via email.

What Kind of Carpentry Services Do You Offer?

Carpenters are generally trained to construct, erect, install, and repair structures and fixtures made from wood and other materials. They can do anything from small domestic repairs, such as fixing door handles and repairing broken furniture, to more significant home projects, such as adding new areas to your home. However, some carpenters may be more skilled in certain areas than others because of their specialization. For instance, a framing and rough carpentry contractor is trained to assemble wood or metal framework, build roof supports, anchor and brace forms, repair or replace structural timbers and support, erect scaffold, and install window frames and stairs.

In contrast, a cabinet, millwork, and finish carpentry contractor makes cabinets, cases, sashes, doors, trims, nonbearing partitions, and other items of finish carpentry by cutting, surfacing, joining, gluing, and fabricating wood or other products to provide a functional surface. This contractor also erects and finishes such cabinets and millwork in structures. Hence, you must be sure to hire only carpenters skilled in the type of project you want to execute.

Also, knowing the cost of the services beforehand is a good idea. Provided below are average cost estimates for common carpentry services in San Francisco:

Cabinet installation (labor only)
$53.30 - $61.90
Cabinet refacing (per linear foot)
$123.00 - $164.00
Carpentry framing (per square foot)
$29.30 - $34.20
Refinish existing cabinets (per square foot)
$10.60 - $13.70
Interior trim and molding installation (per linear foot)
$10.00 - $11.20

Do You Carry the Necessary Insurance Policy for Carpenters in San Francisco?

There are a lot of unforeseen accidents that carpenters may encounter in the workplace. These accidents mainly include injuries sustained from machinery and tools, exposure to toxic molds, fungi, and bacteria, risk of eye injury from flying particles, and falling from working at heights. The State of California Department of Industrial Relations recorded 464 fatalities in the state's construction industry between 2013 - 2019, which included fatalities from contractors performing woodwork-related services. This also does not take into account the several non-fatal injuries that are more frequent and costlier to treat.

Although carpenters are not mandated to maintain general liability insurance but maintaining workers' compensation insurance is compulsory. For individuals who choose to have general liability insurance, the minimum coverage amount is $1 million. Hiring a duly insured carpenter protects you from financial liability for carpenters' workplace injuries, as it helps keep you from paying directly out of your pocket to treat such injuries.

Inquiries regarding a carpenter's insurance can be made to the CSLB at (800) 321-2752.

How to File a Complaint Against a Bad Carpenter in San Francisco

The San Francisco District Attorney's Office was part of the agencies that participated in the 2020 Consumer Federation of America (CFA) Consumer Complaint Survey, which revealed that home Improvement/construction complaints were the top two consumer complaints of the year. These scams occur in different forms, with scammers collecting money and doing shoddy work, failing to start or complete a job, or failing to pay for materials used for a job.

In most cases, these scammers are unlicensed. For instance, an unlicensed contractor defrauded homeowners of about $110,000 in San Francisco's Inner Richmond. As a result, homeowners need to be extra careful when hiring contractors to work on their projects to avoid being victims of home repair scams. The following tips can help:

  • Before deciding to hire any carpenter, ensure you verify the carpenter's license.
  • Get bids from at least three carpenters before deciding on who to hire.
  • Ask for references on work the carpenter has completed in the city so you can check on their reliability and quality.
  • Avoid paying with cash. Instead, pay using credit cards or other payment methods that help with tracing payments.
  • Get a written contract that explicitly spells out everything the carpenter will do for you, including the project's payment schedule and timeframe.
  • Do not pay a huge amount up-front, and don't pay in full until the work has been done to your satisfaction. The legal limit for a down payment in California is 10% of the contract price or $1,000, whichever is lower.
  • Ensure you have a written contract; don't sign it until you fully understand the terms.

Victims of carpentry scams can file a construction complaint with the CSLB. For assistance regarding filing these complaints, you can contact the CSLB at (800) 321-2752. Having considered your complaints, the CSLB may recommend that you file a small claims lawsuit at the Superior Court Of California County of San Francisco.