I completely agree that hiring a licensed and bonded contractor is very important. Not very long ago, a realtor asked me to inspect and approve work completed by a guy who was not licensed, and she was very unhappy when I said "Sorry I can't do that." I won't even look at a job done by an unlicensed contractor for a few reasons, one; its a crime to work as a contractor without a license, and two, WHEN I see the job is wrong, there is no recourse for them anyways. Lastly, because they hired someone knowing they are not licensed, and that is just stupid. Forgive my bluntness. In this case, the realtor brought in the unlicensed guy because her clients did not want to wait a week for the REAL roofer to come out.
I came across this article today, and I like what he says for the most part. There are a few things I would disagree with, though, and since I am "that guy" I am going to disagree here and now.
"Hiring a licensed contractor also ensures they have the level of knowledge required for the job, Knupp said."
It might be true that the licensed contractor knows what he is doing, but sadly that same is equally true of the unlicensed "contractor" I put that in quotes because you are not a contractor if you don't have a license. The process is this;
- You go to a contractor licensing school and fill out a pile of paperwork,
- They review your paperwork and let you know if you qualify or not, if not they tell you why so you can fix the problem.
- You get access to their computers in their special computer room
- You practice taking the test over and over again, by answering questions that are pretty close to the test questions.
- You are memorizing answers
- When you get to 80% correct, you are told to RUSH, RUN, HURRY to the testing center and take the test before you forget
- You take the test clicking answers you memorized.
Doing this is not easy, but it is also not exactly learning. It does show that the contractor took the time to do it right and wants to be a legit contractor. For that, I give him credit and hope more will follow in footsteps. But does it prove they have the "level of knowledge required for the job" sadly no it doesn't. The test is all about memorizing answers long enough to pass the test, that is all. You are still rolling the dice, and need to have some other ways of confirming the contractor's ability to get the job done.
What hiring a licensed contractor does do for you is provide you with a means of recourse of the contractor you hire, rips you off or does a lousy job. That is why you hire a licensed contractor, for that extra layer of protection.
"Knupp said. If a homeowner hires a licensed contractor and issues arise, there are consumer protections in place to help, and the homeowner could be able to get as much as $30,000 to make up for any lost money."
Vetting a contractor is an essential and complicated task; there are several steps you should go through to make sure you are hiring the right person. Even then, there is always that slim chance that you will get ripped off. Or get substandard materials and workmanship, even the most prominent companies can still screw you. I don't say this to scare you, well, maybe a little. I say this so that you are aware that when you do vet a contractor, all you are doing is minimizing the possibility of a bad experience, not eliminating it. We have an excellent article on vetting contractors in our resource section under owners.
Remember Padok pools? A pretty good-sized pool contractor with stores around the valley, a well-known contractor. They got put out of business by the ROC when their license was revoked, so don't let size matter when considering a contractor.
Have you ever been ripped off by a contractor? Do you have a story to tell? I want to hear it; please use the form at the bottom of the page to tell your story.
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