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There’s a long list of questions to consider when you’re starting a home improvement project.
One of the biggest questions is licensing.
Let’s say you’re planning a remodel and doing your due diligence. You get three quotes.
One comes in much lower than the others but they are unlicensed. The contractor tells you it’s not important, don’t worry they have vast experience and can save you a bundle.
But is it important?
And is it really worth it in the end?
Angie Hicks, the co-founder of Angie’s List, said “The world of licensing can be complicated. The requirements can vary from state to state or even county to county. And the requirements can be based on a contractor taking an exam, or simply paying a fee. The bottom line is, you want to know what’s involved in licensing in your area for your project, so do your research and be informed.”
The time and energy you’ll spend researching the requirements is well worth the effort, for several reasons.
“Hiring a licensing contractor should give you more protection,” Angie said. “It generally means you’re hiring someone that’s educated in the task that you want to have done, and experienced in what the job is.”
Hire a licensed contractor
In addition to potentially getting a more experienced pro, hiring a licensed contractor can also help to avoid some costly situations.
“In some states, having a license also requires having workers comp insurance, and that’s protection for you, the homeowner,” Angie said. “Because if one of the employees is hurt on your property while one the job, and the company doesn’t have workers comp insurance, that claim could come back on you. Hiring an unlicensed contractor can result in your homeowner’s insurance being voided if there’s a claim filed because of the work.”
Not only do some insurance companies require proper licensing — some municipalities do, too.
“In some areas, knowingly hiring an unlicensed contractor to do work at your home could result in a fine for you, the homeowner,” Angie said.
Depending on the scope of work and if permits are needed a licensed pro might be your only option.
“In some areas, a permit might only be able to be pulled by a licensed contractor,” Angie said. “So if you’re using an unlicensed contractor, they may not be getting the required permits, which means the work might not be done up to code and you might be paying to have it redone.”
Projects vary by scope and requirements vary greatly by region and by trade.
That’s why it is important for consumers to check with their local licensing agencies and confirm what’s needed to get the job done right.