There are plenty of smart shortcuts that you can take down the road of life, but hiring an unlicensed contractor to work on your home is definitely not one of them. Every state requires that contractors be licensed before they can work on your home, but this doesn’t stop the unlicensed “Handyman” or “Journeyman” from advertising their services on Craigslist. Sure, their prices are likely lower than what a licensed contractor will charge, but that’s because you’re accepting a pretty high risk when you hire them.
Hiring an unlicensed contractor is a wild card. Sure, maybe they know what they’re doing, but, then again, maybe not. If they build a shoddy deck, short circuit your electrical wiring or cause any type of damage to your home, you have very few legal remedies outside of civil court (where you may find out that your handyman doesn’t even have enough money to pay for the damage he caused). What’s worse, if an unlicensed contractor injures himself while working on your home, he can actually sue YOU for damages!
Check out this video by the Contractor’s State License Board (CSLB). While the video may be a little silly, its message is serious.
California has some of the strictest contractor licensing standards in the country. Contractors seeking a license in this state must have four years’ experience, prove their solvency and pass a written exam to demonstrate their knowledge.
If you are unhappy with how your licensed contractor performed a job, you have up to four years to file a complaint with the CSLB. The organization then has the authority to investigate your complaint.
The law also requires that all contractors carry workers compensation insurance, which means that if one of their employees is injured on your property, the contractor’s liability insurance policy will cover the cost – not you!
When it comes to a big home remodel, price is always a concern for homeowners. It may be tempting to try to cut corners by hiring an unlicensed handyman, but this shortcut could end in disaster. If anything goes wrong, it could have a devastating impact on your home and your finances.
Do the right thing and hire a licensed contractor! You can find out if a contractor is licensed by visiting: https://www2.cslb.ca.gov/OnlineServices/CheckLicenseII/checklicense.aspx
Jeff Mudd, the owner of Best Rate Repair, has been a licensed contractor since 1994 and has maintained a spotless record.