A few days ago, a good friend of ours answered a knock on her front door. The smooth talking gentleman on her front porch said he was a "paving contractor" who happened to have some material leftover after doing a project for UPS. He then commented on the condition of her driveway and offered a super low price on re-paving it. To no one's surprise, his "too good to be true" offer was valid for one day only. Fortunately for our friend, she said no to the deal and the paving man went on down the street. As we were talking to our friend about this incident, we realized that many homeowners don't know what could go wrong when hiring an unlicensed contractor. Below are a 3 things every homeowner needs to consider:
1. Unlicensed usually means uninsured. If that's the case and the contractor causes damage to your home, you will most likely end up paying the price. It's a mistake to think that your homeowner's policy will bail you out. Most homeowner policies require work to be done by licensed contractors and often specifically exclude damages caused by those who are unlicensed. And even though it sounds unfair, you could be held responsible for the medical bills and various other damages (such as lost wages) sustained by an unlicensed contractor if he gets hurt while working at your home.
2. As a group, unlicensed contractors are known to be extremely unreliable. They typically cut corners everywhere they can, performing shoddy work while using cheap and inferior materials. Hire one of them and you could end up paying to have the work redone in the not so distant future. An unlicensed contractor will probably ignore building codes and standards as well. You will almost certainly be forced to correct their shoddy repairs if and when you try to sell your home. Trying to save a few dollars now can cost you dearly later.
3. Those who ignore our contacting laws have a tendency to ignore other laws as well. We recently read about a city that conducted an undercover sting operation to catch those contracting without a license. Of the 14 people they cited for unlicensed contacting, one was also arrested for possessing methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia. Several others drove to the site of the sting operation with a suspended or expired driver's license. One of them was also out on parole. According to a city official: “Some of the people we catch have serious criminal records, and are not the kind of people you want around your family or the valuables in your home.”
Keep an eye out for our next post on Unlicensed Contractors, which will include some helpful tips on avoiding those rascals.
"An investment in knowledge pays the best interest." –Benjamin Franklin