In most states, including Maryland, Home Improvement, HVAC, Electrical, and Plumbing contractors must be licensed with the state. In Maryland, a residential contractor can repair, replace, alter, or remodel condos and homes, but cannot work on anything above a four unit apartment building. A contractor may choose to obtain a Maryland home improvement license and then register within the county that he lives.
There are many crucial steps that a contractor may undergo to become licensed in their state. There may be exams, registrations, and fees associated with licensing. Some contractors feel that becoming licensed in their state is simply a waste of money in fees. However, if you are looking to hire a contractor, you must consider what hiring an unlicensed, uninsured contractor entails.
Nationally, it is estimated that the home contracting business brings in about $200 billion dollars each year. Yet every single year consumers lose about $25 million dollars due to unlicensed contractors.
Often unlicensed contractors will offer a significantly lower quote to entice you. However, while you think you are saving money, that same contractor is probably taking shortcuts or reusing your old materials. You may not even be aware that the contractor is doing these things, while still charging you for new materials.
Another issue that can arise with unlicensed contractors is their motivation to finish the job. They may simply take your money and run with it. Or, they may only complete half of the promised work.
Even more disturbing is the fact that unlicensed contractors rarely carry insurance. This can spell huge financial problems for the homeowner.
If you hire an unlicensed contractor that doesn’t carry insurance, who is responsible when a worker falls off of your roof and breaks his arm? Perhaps the medical bills are reaching the hundreds of thousands for x-rays, exams, physical therapy, or maybe even surgery. The homeowner will be responsible for taking care of the uninsured worker’s medical bills. In fact, your home owners insurance most likely won’t cover such damages. You will be left with financially devastating medical bills.
Also consider damage to your property. Who is responsible if the contractor accidentally drives through your garage door? If they are unlicensed and uninsured, chances are you will be left paying for the damages.
Licensed contractors registered with their state cannot get away with taking shortcuts or skipping out on jobs. They will be held accountable should they be reported to their state licensing agency.
When you are looking for a contractor in Bethesda, Maryland, consider these serious complications should you choose an unlicensed, uninsured contractor. There are a few important steps you can take to guarantee your contractor is properly licensed and insured.
- Check out any bids, paperwork, or fliers from the contractor. Their license number should appear somewhere on the material.
- Verify the license number. Just because they display a number on the side of their truck, doesn’t necessarily mean it is legitimate. Some contractors use phony numbers hoping that the homeowner doesn’t verify.
- Check to see if any complaints have been filed against the contractor.
If you still aren’t convinced to hire a licensed contractor, consider the long term effects. Licensing means that that contractor has the skills, knowledge, and experience to perform a quality job. What happens if an unlicensed electrician wires your entire house, which later burns down?
Because home contracting is such a large industry, homeowners should be certain that they are paying a qualified contractor that will do a safe and quality job. Hiring an unlicensed, uninsured contractor could cost you time, money, and even your home.
In Maryland, it is a criminal offense for a contractor to do home improvements without a license. If you are looking to remodel or update your home, only trust your valuable assets to a licensed, insured contractor that prides himself on offering competitive pricing and options, along with quality service. D.R. Hartman Construction is a fully licensed and insured general contractor company in Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C.