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The New Hidden Dangers Of Hiring An Unlicensed Contractor

by Roy Primm
A contractor that's unknown
Is not the best to have in your home,
So make sure they're qualified
And have nothing to hide
Then you'll protect the house you own.
 
In an Attempt to save money many black homeowners hire unlicensed contractors to perform home repairs and improvements.
 
While this may sometimes be necessary, you must be aware of the risk you face by hiring unlicensed contractors. Here is a short-list of risk you take when hiring an unlicensed contractor.
  • Unlicensed contractors are a danger to your financial affairs because they expose you to significant financial harm should an injury or property damage happen.
  • Unlicensed contractors may not have the skills or ethics to repair damage properly.
  • Unlicensed contractors have no professional or legal standard or regulations they must abide by.
  • Unlicensed contractors are under no duty to provide any of these consumer benefits, which exposes homeowners to significant financial risks ranging from medical costs to repairs to rebuilding.
  • Unlicensed contractors are subject to arrest and prosecution for working without a license.
  • Your homeowner's policy does not cover unlicensed contractors.

Consumer Liability For Damages and Injuries on-the-job site.

By law as the homeowner you're responsible for hiring of an unlicensed contractor. Consumer-protection groups report a sharp increase in renovation-related complaints.

The complaints include contractors who do shoddy work and abandonment of half-finished projects. Hiring an unlicensed contractor is the direct responsibility of the homeowner. Thus, the homeowner is accountable for all outcomes associated with the unlicensed contractor's work.

Property Risk Involved

When in doubt get a current copy of the contractor's insurances, including worker's compensation, property damage and liability. If you use an uninsured contractor, it means the contractor has no way of repaying you for any property damage he or she causes. Also, if unlicensed contractor's carelessness leads to injury or damage to your neighbors property, the problem is likely to become yours.

Payment Red Flags To Watch Out For

You are ...

Asked to make your check payable to an individual instead of a company name.

Asked to make a payment in cash or to make the check payable to "cash." Licensed contractors will usually have a separate business account.

WARNING! Avoid any contractor who needs large advance payments.

Avoid contractors who demand payment in cash or more than 1/3 of the total before work has begun.

The contract should include the work they'll perform, the precise materials they'll use, debris removal and clean-up agreement, labor costs, subcontractors' names, a construction schedule, a payment schedule, completion date and warranties.

Before you make your final payment, live with the renovations a few days to make sure you're satisfied.

Most Complaints From African American Homeowner's Involve Unlicensed Contractors.

Hiring a licensed contractor is no guarantee of customer satisfaction. But the most serious complaints involving substandard work - or failure to perform any work at all involve unlicensed contractors.

Hiring Tips

If you live in an area where contractors do not have to have a license, you're going to have to be extra vigilant about who you hire. For example,  what if a contractor files bankruptcy or skips out while working on your home. The homeowner who hires unlicensed contractors is responsible for all fines and unpaid bills to suppliers. You're also responsible for the wages of employees who worked for the unlicensed contractor.

Conclusion

Now that you know the risk in hiring unlicensed contractors, you can take the steps it takes to make an informed decision. You can also work to better protect yourself and your property. To perform a quick check on whether your contractor has a valid license go to http://www.contractors-license.org/
 
 
Copyright © MMVII, Black Homeowner News, Inc.