Get Quotes from Top Carpenters in San Jose, CA

Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Carpenter in San Jose

Hiring a professional carpenter in San Jose to help with your home improvement or remodeling will not only improve the look of your property and increase its market worth by up to seven percent but would also leave you with a sense of fulfillment. According to a National Association of Realtors poll, 77 percent of homeowners who complete a home restoration or remodeling project experience a significant feeling of accomplishment.

You can get a professional carpenter by consulting with friends and neighbors, renovation contractors, and realtors for recommendations or by looking up a carpenter in an internet directory. However, it is ultimately your obligation to ensure that any carpenter you hire is properly qualified for the job. To this end, getting answers to the following questions can help you hire the best carpenter near you for your home improvement project:

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

San Jose requires carpenters taking contracts that have a value of $500 and above to have a license from the California Contractors State License Board. As a matter of fact, it is considered a misdemeanor in San Jose to provide any form of carpentry service costing $500 or more, labor and materials inclusive, without having a valid license issued by the CSLB. Violations of this licensing requirement can result in fines of up to $15,000 as well as up to six months in jail for first-time offenders, with repeat offenders often facing considerably harsher penalties. Note that excluding works under $500, some types of carpentry jobs can be done without a license. These include public projects by government employees, work done by property owners on their own premises, and finished products that are not a permanent part of the structure.

Carpenters can obtain specialty licenses from the CSLB in two categories: C-5 - Framing and Rough Carpentry Contractor, which covers rough carpentry as well as work that is required to build framed structures and C-6 - Cabinet, Millwork, and Finish Carpentry Contractor, which covers cabinets, cases, sashes, doors, trims, nonbearing partitions and other items of "finish carpentry". To become a licensed contractor, an individual must be at least 18 years old and have the appropriate carpentry experience and skills. This experience involves attaining at least four full years of journey-level carpentry-related experience within the 10 years immediately preceding the submission of the application. The applying carpenter must also provide a $15,000 bond, or a $15,000 cashier's check in place of this, and also pass a licensing examination.

You should always verify that a carpenter in San Jose has a current CSLB-issued license before hiring them. You can do so by calling the CSLB at (800) 321-2752 or by using the Check a License portal, which the agency maintains and makes available to the public for this purpose.

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

Several factors determine the hourly rate that carpenters in San Jose charge prospective clients, including the type and cost of materials that the project will require, the nature and scope of the project, and the amount of labor required to complete the job. However, it is worth noting that not all carpenters work on an hourly basis, and some may charge flat rates for their services. Nevertheless, getting numerous estimates for your job from many carpenters in your area is recommended, as this will help you identify the typical cost of the project. This also protects you from scammers and untrustworthy contractors.

A carpenter in San Jose earns an annual average wage of $66,140. The table below provides a comparison of the mean hourly wage for carpenters in San Jose against those of carpenters in the rest of the State of California as well as across several other major American cities:

San Jose Carpenters Mean Hourly Wage
California Carpenters Mean Hourly Wage
New York City Carpenters Mean Hourly Wage
Los Angeles Carpenters Mean Hourly Wage
Houston Carpenters Mean Hourly Wage
Phoenix Carpenters Mean Hourly Wage
Boston Carpenters Mean Hourly Wage
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Do You Comply with San Jose Building Code for Carpentry Work?

When hiring a carpenter in San Jose, you should always ensure they are knowledgeable about the city's building code. The San Jose Building Code, which was adopted from the 2019 California Building Codes, is meant to ensure the safety of San Jose inhabitants' lives and property. To this end, the construction, alteration, demolition, moving, repair, use, and maintenance of buildings and structures in the city, as well as the quality of materials used in and around these buildings and structures, are all governed by these laws. Interior finishes, curb ramps, building accessibility, means of egress, and other carpentry-related components of building and construction are also covered by this code.

Using a carpenter who does not follow the provisions of the code or is ignorant of it not only puts you at risk of code violations but as well puts your health and safety at risk. Building codes violations can also result in fines of up to $2,500 per day for each infringement, as well as other criminal and civil sanctions.

The San Jose Department of Planning, Building & Code Enforcement can provide you with information on the city's building code as well as the provisions of these codes that may apply to your intended project. To make inquiries, contact the Department of Planning, Building and Code at the following locations:

Building Division Office
200 E. Santa Clara Street,
Tower, 2nd Floor
San José, CA 95113-1905
Phone: (408) 535-3555
Code Enforcement Office
200 E. Santa Clara Street.,
4th Floor
San José, CA 95113
Phone: (408) 535-7770

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

In San Jose, building permits are normally required for building, construction, and home improvement projects. Carpentry projects such as the installation of kitchen and bathroom cabinets, the change or replacement of wall framing around a doorway, the construction of wooden fences, and the replacement of wall-mounted window frames are instances where a permit is necessary. However, the following are some cases where building permits are not necessary for carrying out carpentry projects:

  • Refacing or replacement of cabinet without wall modification
  • Replacement of a countertop
  • Repairs of up to 10 square feet of floor sheathing
  • Surface and cosmetic improvements in "non-rated" sheetrock locations
  • Minor roof repairs or replacements, that is, those that are less than 25% of the existing roof, do not impact the underlying framework and occur only once every 12 months
  • Replacement of windows that don't change the window frame, nailing flange, or weather protection
  • Installation of awnings over doors or windows in Group R-3 or U occupancies that do not project more than 54 inches
  • Building of fences that are no taller than 7 feet
  • Repairing retaining walls that do not exceed 4 feet in height when measured from the bottom of the footing to the top of the wall

The San Jose Department of Planning, Building & Code Enforcement is in charge of issuing building permits and scheduling inspections. To obtain a permit, a property owner, licensed contractor or authorized agent will need to take certain steps, which include selecting the appropriate building permit service for the job and filling out and submitting a building permit application to the Permit Center of the Department of Planning, Building & Code Enforcement at:

Development Services Permit Center
200 E. Santa Clara Street
Tower, 2nd Floor
San José, CA 95113
Phone: (408) 535-3555

Alternatively, permit application submissions can be made via the Department's online submission platform.

Depending on the type of project you are carrying out, the Permit Center assigns a service to you, and your application is approved or rejected after review. Following approval and payment of all required permit fees, the requested permits will be provided. Inspections will also be required at various points after the approved work begins to guarantee compliance with the applicable provisions of the city's building code. To make inquiries about permits and inspections, you can call the Department at (408) 535-7641 or send an email.

What Kind of Carpentry Services Do You Offer?

Carpenters in San Jose provide a wide range of woodworking services, and these services can be divided into two categories: rough carpentry and finish carpentry. Rough carpentry comprises work like rafters, beams, and posts, which can be thought of as the framework of construction and are usually hidden once finished. It comprises any work that involves installation or repairs of individual components of framing systems, as well as any rough carpentry or allied work, such as the building or installation of sub-flooring, siding, exterior stairs and railings, overhead doors, roof decking, truss members, and sheathing. Finish carpentry, on the other hand, involves more finesse and attention to detail because it typically comprises carpentry work that is visible after completion, such as stairs, flooring, and trims.

Some of these carpenters may specialize in certain areas of the profession, such as new home construction or remodeling, cabinet and furniture manufacturing, commercial and industrial carpentry, and decorative woodwork. Before finalizing any hiring arrangements with a carpenter near you, make certain that this carpenter specializes in the precise field of carpentry that your project needs and that they have the necessary tools and experience to do the work satisfactorily.

The following are the average prices for certain carpentry services in San Jose:

Interior trim and molding installation (mid-grade trim or molding)
$10.48 - $11.77
Carpentry framing (unfinished home addition framing)
$30.71 - $35.86
Exterior trim installation
$825 - $1,450
Exterior trim repair
$825 - $1,450
Siding repair
$683 - $2,162

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

While there are no statutory requirements for general liability insurance for carpenters in San Jose, workers' compensation insurance is mandated by the California Labor Code. Given the use of potentially dangerous handheld equipment in carpentry, it is always in your best interest to ensure that any carpenter you choose for your job is properly insured. This will protect you in the event of an accident on the job. Request a copy of your carpenter's insurance certificate to see if the individual is adequately insured to cover any bodily harm or unintentional damage to your property that may occur during the job. You should also verify the validity of this certificate by contacting the insurance company that issued it.

Note that unless they have no employees or meet other CSLB exemption conditions, San Jose carpenters should possess a valid Certificate of Self-Insurance from the California Department of Industrial Relations in addition to or instead of worker's compensation insurance. You can contact the CSLB at (800) 321-2752 for additional information on the obligatory bonding and workers' compensation insurance requirements for San Jose carpenters.

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

In 2016, a San Jose couple duped customers for more than $800,000. The couple, who operated a duly licensed home improvement company, faced 79 counts in total, including 33 felony counts of grand theft, elder fraud, and white-collar criminal enhancements for allegedly stealing money for personal needs and not performing the work promised. Two victims had each paid $20,000 upfront for work that was never started. In 2019, this case became known as California's largest contractor fraud case, with 37 homeowners reporting losses of up to $900,000 each.

Some common methods that con artists in San Jose use to defraud their victims include:

  • They knock on your door looking for business, claiming to be "in the area,".
  • They claim to have leftover supplies from prior work.
  • They put pressure on you to make a quick decision.
  • They demand full payment upfront or only accept cash.
  • They demand that you obtain any necessary building permissions.
  • They advise you to take out a loan from a lender they know.

By following the procedures below, you can verify that you are hiring a legitimate carpenter while also protecting yourself from any home improvement scams:

  • Consider only licensed and insured contractors. Confirm the contractor's license by using the CSLB License Check platform, and get confirmation of insurance from the contractor.
  • Consult with people you know and trust for contractor referrals.
  • Check to see if there have been any complaints filed against a contractor by contacting the local Home Builders Association and California Department of Consumer Affairs. You can also look for the company's name online using terms like "scam," "review," or "complaint." Alternatively, visit reputable online review websites like Better Business Bureau to discover what others have to say about the contractor.
  • Obtain several estimates. A written estimate should include a description of the work to be done, the materials used, the expected completion date, and the cost. Don't always go with the lowest bidder. Also, if there's a problem, demand an explanation.
  • Carefully read any contract that you are offered before signing it. Double-check to make sure that it has information such as the contractor's name, address, phone number, and license number, as well as an expected start and completion date and that any blank spots are filled in.
  • Pay only a portion of the project's total cost upfront. Upfront payment requests for anything more than 10% of the project cost, or $1,000, are considered a red flag. And don't make the final payment until you are completely satisfied with the work.

Scams involving home remodeling and carpentry that occur in San Jose can be reported using the following methods:

  • By notifying the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office via telephone at (408) 299-7500, sending an email or contacting this office online
  • By phoning the San Jose Department of Planning, Building & Code Enforcement at (408) 535-3500 or (800) 735-2922
  • By filing a construction complaint with the Contractors State License Board (CSLB),
  • By calling the San Jose Police Department at (408) 277-8900 to report the crime.