Stay Away-- they can and will gladly rip you off and leave you with a wreck!
First-- bet you don’t know that when you hire an unlicensed contractor, it’s illegal in many States. If that’s not bad enough, if an unlicensed contractor or his workers get injured on your property, they can sue you and win! Unlicensed contractors are also unlikely to carry proper insurance. These are extremes, but believe us, if it happens to you, it can be devastating, costing you time, money, emotional distress and possibly a ruined home.
Most consumers who have had the misfortune to use unlicensed contractors complain of seriously inept and shoddy workmanship. Others report that their deposits where taken by these phonies and no work ever commenced. There are thousands of horrible case histories of homeowners who put up thousands of dollars for renovations of bathrooms, kitchens, roofing, etc. that resulted in catastrophic consequences.
In one such case, an unsuspecting homeowner paid over $20,000 for a new roof. After the job was completed he noticed the walls in his house were developing cracks. Turned out that the new roof was too heavy a load for the structure of the home---which the owner figured out only AFTER his place collapsed. Licensed contractors/roofers know that the weight of the product used to roof a home is critical and requires a licensed engineer’s report before any work commences. Meanwhile, this customer is stuck without a clear-cut claim to his homeowners insurance company. Why? -- Because he used an unlicensed contractor.
Often consumers look to save money and unfortunately believe that an independent fast talking handyman/carpenter can do the same job for less then the established licensed companies. Remember---“you get what you pay for”. Cheap usually ends up with “creep” results. Always ask for the contractor’s license number and State of issuance. Licenses are required by anyone who conducts structural, electrical, plumbing, painting, etc. for any renovation or repair work. The contractor must also be licensed in the State he is conducting work; any other license is irrelevant. You have little or no recourse against an unlicensed contractor or one licensed in another State.
Do Your Homework
1. Find out the licensing requirements in your State and Country; be extra vigilant.
2. Find a contractor through recommendations of a friend or neighbor or a reliable building and supply store such as Home Depot, Lowe’s or Ace Hardware. Stay away from supposed “contractor” newspaper and classified advertisements and solicitations.
3. Ask to see the contractor’s original paper license, get a copy of the document or at least record the license number. Verify it with your State/Country.
4. Ask your State/Country if the contractor has a history of complaints. Check with the Better Business Bureau as well.
5. Do not be fooled by look-like licenses such as “occupancy permits” or business licenses. The correct license is specifically for contractors only, which requires contractors to take a test.
6. Be sure that the contractor you hire is licensed to perform the exact type of work your job requires. A licensed electrician cannot legally conduct plumbing work. If you hire a general contractor make sure the sub-contractors he hires, like plumbers, electricians, etc., are licensed specifically for their tasks as well.
The Easy Answer -- Be careful and do not look for bargains -- look for quality and integrity. Sadly, they are difficult to find, but they are out there. Remember--“If it’s too good to be true, it is!”