When remodeling, why do I need a licensed contractor?

Recently I was asked to bid on a basement remodel that required some framing, electrical wiring, plumbing, insulation, drywall, trim carpentry and painting, along with a few other odds and ends.

As we always do, I completed a drawing, followed by an itemized cost estimate based on that drawing. I quoted the job and was asked several questions by the homeowners in regards to the estimate. They asked if they could use my scope of work and plans to have a “contractor friend” quote the job also. I agreed to let them use the plans and scope of work, with the understanding that they would pay for the plans if their friend got the job.

After they met with their “contractor friend” they asked why they needed me, a licensed contractor, to do their work. The “contractor friend” said “he was qualified and did this type of work without a permit all the time”. He has been doing this type of work on the side while he was laid off.

I explained the following:

1. We are professionals, and this is a service we provide to make sure you get what you requested.

2. We are licensed; as required by law, and are required to have Workers Comp and Liability Insurance. He isn’t licensed and does not have these types of insurances. What happens if your house sustains damages, due to his neglect, while he is working in your house. You may not be protected by your insurance because of the permits that are required, and because you have not disclosed to your carrier what you are remodeling.

3. If that unlicensed contractor does any work including ANY electrical and or plumbing in the house without permits, this could result in fines in excess of $1,000.00.

4. We get all necessary permits required to complete this work, and it is inspected by the local building officials. Therefore you as homeowner get all inspections as required. When it comes time to sell, you’ll need these inspections and may have trouble getting them otherwise- which can lead to much more costly fixes down the road.

5. When remodeling a home or basement, what you think doesn’t really matter. Having a license and obtaining permits do matter regardless of whether you agree. Most every remodeling project requires a permit; regardless of who is performing the work, even if it’s the homeowner.

6. We offer a warranty, similar to the new homeowners warranty offered by the HBAL. Unlicensed contractors often have no warranty.

Part 2 coming up. How did this story unfold?

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