Homeowners should beware of unlicensed contractors


As homeowners look to repair storm damage from Superstorm Sandy, I want to stress that it is especially important to hire only licensed (in NJ a Home Improvement license is required) contractors to do repair work around your home. Be aware that there are unlicensed contractors out there who will take advantage of homeowners looking for a quick fix for damage to their homes. Many of these unlicensed contractors are people you don’t want inside your house or around your children.

To be a licensed contractor, business owners must have a criminal background check and carry insurance.  Insurance is important for a couple of reasons. First, if the repair work is not done properly, the homeowner could be left with no recourse for getting it fixed properly.  Second, if the business does not carry workers compensation insurance and one of the workers gets injured on your property, you could be liable for this injury.  Homeowners may over look these issues and choose a contractor who is not insured because they will charge less for the work. It could end up costing you more if there are problems with the quality of the work or if there is an injury on your property.

You’ve got plenty of resources: friends and family, local building inspectors, the local lumberyard, whose employees know contractors and know which ones buy the good materials and pay on time.  You can also protect yourself with a call to your local Consumer Affairs Department.  They can help you determine if the contractor you are considering is licensed.

Taking the time to hire a licensed contractor will protect you throughout the job.  They may charge more than someone without a license, but peace of mind is worth the extra dollars spent.