If you’ve got a project that you can’t DIY, there are three words that are absolutely essential when it comes to hiring a professional to do the work: licensed, bonded and insured.
The truth of the matter is that anyone can say they are, and a few will even advertise they are when they’re not. It’s very rare, but it does happen. By asking to see proof, you will be able to establish that you will be protected in the event of damage.
Simply put, if they don’t produce current documentation, don’t hire them. They may do good work, but the big “what if” factor comes in to play. What if something happens? What if they cause damage to your home? What if an employee gets hurt? What if they cause damage to your neighbor’s property?
Being licensed means the contractor is registered to perform certain types of work. It is important to know what types of remodeling and repair requires a license. Electrical and plumbing usually requires a license, but other areas do as well. A quick call to your local building codes enforcement office will tell you what you need to know.
Being bonded means the contractor has deposited secured funds, with a bond company and that money is available to pay any claims by a customer against the company. Companies that issue bonds require that the contractor go through an underwriting process that includes data concerning professional credentials, personnel, financial statements and ethics. Bond money is controlled by a state agency and used to pay a variety of claims against the contractor.
Last, but certainly not least, any contractor you hire should be insured as a protection of your liability. If a worker is hurt on the job and the company is not insured, the claim would be filed against your homeowner’s insurance. You may also be liable for worker’s compensation. You will be forced to pay for any damage caused to your home by the contractor’s negligence or be forced to file a claim with your insurance, which means you still have to pay the deductible. If insurance denies the claim, you have to go through the time and expense to sue the contractor.
Seeing proof that they are licensed, bonded and insured will go a long way toward reducing any question you have about the contractor. Determining if the contractor is licensed, bonded and insured is the first important step in hiring a remodeling contractor. Not only will this help you determine if the contractor is eligible to do the work, it can potentially save you a small fortune if something happens.