Let’s say that something big breaks in your home. It’s a pain when you have to deal with an unforeseen expense. Sometimes, it seems like a better idea to just hire a local handyman to get the job done rather pay a premium amount for a real contractor. It’s not that big of a deal, right?
There are some things you should know about unlicensed contractors so you’re not on the hook if things go wrong. For example, as the homeowner you’ll assume financial responsibility and liability if the handyman gets injured on the job, the job becomes problematic, or the finished product doesn’t meet code.
If you want to protect yourself from accidentally doing work with an unlicensed contractor, keep reading below for a comprehensive list of questions to ask next time you’re hiring. That way, you’ve done your due diligence to ensure a protected job well-done.
1. Are you licensed?
This might seem like a silly question. However, don’t be ashamed to ask! Any real licensed contractor will be able to fulfill the full set of requirements for contractors. If they’re not able to present the documents to you, you can easily check online for their status. If you start your questioning here, you’ll be able to weed out a lot of candidates that don’t measure up to the standard you hold. Doing business with someone unlicensed isn’t always bad news, but it does greatly increase your risks and holds liability over your head.
2. Can I have the contact information for your insurance agent?
You don’t want to do business with someone who isn’t insured to get the work done. While it might seem easier to just take a look at their insurance policy, there’s no way to guarantee it’s still valid. The only way to get full confirmation is by calling the agent yourself. While you’re at it, ask them to add you to the policy as “additional insured” so you know you’re protected.
3. Can you provide me all the lien releases?
A lien release is an important document that will protect you from having any liens placed on your home due to unpaid subcontractors or vendors. Don’t take their word for it, ask to actually see it. Anyone who’s worth their stuff will gladly provide them before getting to work.
4. Will you pull all necessary permits?
Make sure you don’t go pulling the permits for the job yourself. Legally that makes you the general contractor of the job. Instead, keep liability on them by having them pull all permits on your behalf. Only a true licensed contractor will be able to do this.
5. Will you provide me with a written contract before the work begins?
A good contract is one of the most important aspects that makes a good contractor. These legal documents will determine what your rights are and how the contractor must remedy any issues that arise. While it would be great to be able to fully trust your contractor’s word, don’t simply shake on it. In the end, that means it’s only their word against yours. Should anything go wrong, it creates a lot of mess. With a contract, anything that could arise will be covered so that you know the proper course of action.
It’s smart to always vet your contractors online. Check out their website, look for positive reviews, and check their rating on the Better Business Bureau. Its always better to be safe than sorry when trusting someone else with you project or property. Do your research to avoid scams and ensure the company you hire is legitimate.