Dealing with Contractors: the Licence makes a Difference

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For most of us, the cost of buying a home is probably the biggest investment we are going to make in our lifetime. This is why it makes a lot of sense that property owners look for the lowest possible price when looking to build or remodel a home.

In this regard, plenty of unlicensed contractors would have the upper hand against licensed ones. Most unlicensed contractors are not bonded or insured, and they don’t have to pay superannuation, insurance, workers compensation, annual leave or sick leave for their employees. With these in mind, they can certainly underbid licensed professionals.

Of course, this particular bottom line is certainly appealing to any property owner, since they think it will save their wallets from becoming too light. Allow me to tell you that this is a bad idea, and enlighten you with a story that is quite common when hiring an unlicensed contractor.

People who may have worked as labourers or framers for a short period of time could decide that they’re ready to start a business of their own as a contractor. Despite having little capital to go on – or even any long and hard experience in the matter – these kinds of people could just print up flyers, give out business cards or even place ads on the yellow pages about their work. The customer may even see the words, “licensed, bonded, and insured” on the ads given out.

Beware of unlicensed contractors

Since anyone would want to save their money, the unsuspecting customer would then call the number listed on the ad and ask for a quote. When the customer does get the  quote, they’d be too happy to hear just how much money this person or company claims they can save you. It’s here that the real disaster begins.

First, the contractor tells you that he needs a large portion of the money upfront. He’d probably say that he needs it to purchase necessary materials, or to pay workers for another job where a customer is slow to pay. You wouldn’t know it, but these lines could be phoney – anything to gain sympathy.

Of course, things seem fine at first. In a day or so, you’d see someone show up to start measurements. You would probably even see a small amount of material being delivered on site. But after a week or so, you’d see that there’s little to no work getting done. Of course, you’d decide to give that unlicensed contractor a call. All you might get is a recorded message, and you could just politely ask for a return call.

When you get to talk to the contractor at last, he would probably sound pretty apologetic. After tugging at your heartstrings with a few lines again, he’d promise to get back to work for you the next day. Don’t be surprised to see that he doesn’t, or even if he does show up, it’s only to ask you for more money. It sounds ridiculous but that doesn’t make it any less true. It’s something that happens all the time and you stand to lose thousands worth of cash. At this point, you’d have little to no choice but to pursue the matter in court.

Why hire a licensed contractor

Hiring a licensed contractor offers a lot of protection to the customer, especially when it comes to residential property. After all, a real contractor can’t get a license without having a minimum amount of experience, and passing a business management test. Applicants may also be put to a background check for criminal history, and can’t obtain a license if they have any unresolved contracting complaints against them.

The license really makes a difference because if you somehow experience the same story with a licensed contractor, you’d have the ability to file a complaint against their license versus having to grip with an unlicensed contractor. This is a guarantee that your home wouldn’t be below or even in violation of existing housing codes.


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