In our last post (Buyer Beware: Unlicensed Contractors - Part 1), we included a few things homeowners should consider when considering whether to hire a contractor who could be unlicensed. Below are some tips on how to avoid to avoid hiring an unlicensed (or just plain bad) contractor, which could protect you and your home from physical and/or financial damage:
1. Make sure a contractor is licensed.
In our state (Tennessee), it's prudent to check the state's website for License Search and Verification:
For example, one could enter "Results Handyman" as the firm name and click on "Home Improvement" form the Profession menu. Doing so returns our state license number (#6802) and shows that the Status of our company is "Active - Fully Licensed". One can click on the "Details" tab to see additional information.
2. Verify that a contractor is insured.
Check to see if they carry general liability insurance and workers' compensation coverage.
3. Look for warning signs which may indicate that a contractor should be avoided. These include:
-Did you get an unsolicited call or knock on your door?"
-Are you unable to verify a company's address or phone number?
-Do they demand full or large payment upfront or do they require payment in cash?
-Are they using high pressure sales tactics such as requiring you to make a hiring decision today?
-Do they refuse to give you anything in writing or are they unwilling to give you a price?
-Have they asked you to sign a document that includes blank spaces to be filled in after the contract is signed by you?
-Do they have a bad attitude or do they speak or act unprofessionally?
4. Check References.
An experienced contractor will have successfully completed other projects that are similar to yours. If a contractor has done good work in the recent past, they should have some clients who are willing to give a positive reference.