The Importance of Selecting A Licensed Contract versus a Handyman!
Today I like to share something that I believe is very important with you if you don't know this already. It happens way too often that is why I am writing this post to help unsuspecting and trusting home owners.
Sooner or later most people that own a home may need repairs done from time to time and some home owners may need or want to remodel or like to update their home.
Based on my experience I recommend highly to check with your Local Labor and Licensing Board LLR if the contractor you plan to hire is LICENSED. You can also ask the person for its License Number and verify on LLR's website if the license is up to date. This is very important. Over the years I have heard complaints and seen some of the work I would not call professional. I received cards from repair people that do work in my own neighborhood or where I am listing a home, or I get emails sent to me from people that are looking for work. I check on the LLR website if they are licensed and many times I see that they are not. Their license either lapsed many years ago or they are just not licensed. You can find Handyman that advertise their specialty leading you to believe that they are professionals. I have seen them on Facebook bragging with the kind of work they did, but not licensed. Based on that that was not legal. Unlicensed “contractor” which should be handyman, can only do work up to $300 is what LLR said when I inquired. Think about this, you are trusting someone into your home that is not licensed and there are those that have a criminal record as well, I was told. I have seen someone call himself a home builder on his card and he was not licensed meaning he can only do work up to $300. You and I know it costs a lot more money to build a home than $300. So not having a license to do work that you are not qualified to do can become a huge problem for the home owner if they are left with unsatisfactory work and most of the time they probably are stuck. Remember you can file a complaint with the LLR and take that person to Magistrate Court in the County they reside in. If he tries to avoid the Registered Letter you can hire a Sherrif to find and serve him to show up in Court.
Please don't just rely on your neighbor, friend or someone you know to recommend someone because they may not have checked if that person is a licensed contractor. I have sold Real Estate in the Columbia SC area since 1993 and I have seen a lot of people that should not perform the work they do because they do not know how to do it correctly and my clients keep asking for names of good people to do work.
An Unlicensed Handyman can only do work up to $300. I have not seen them take out a permit for the work they take on which they should. Often you get taken for more money than the start up, and they keep asking you to pay more before the work is finished. They always come up with a reason why they need more money, car, child support, rent, you name it, they are never short of excuses. You have to budget your money and they should too. There is no reason why they keep asking you for more money.
I am sure that there are honest Handyman that like to do little jobs. I don't mean to disrespect them in any way. Everyone has to make a living. But then there are those that are just out to get your money as I hear time after time. I call them hustlers. They know what they do to you. You really can save yourself aggravation and loss of money to do it right from the start by hiring a licensed contractor.
If you fall victim to one of these "contractors they will call themselves" you can to file a complaint with the LLR and take that person to the Magistrate Court in the county they reside in. The maximum the Judge can recover for you is $7,500. (In SC). That is not a guarantee that person will pay you back what they conned out of you for the unsatisfactory and unprofessional work.
If they do not pay you back the judgment within 30 days you have the option to get the SHERIFF to go to that repair man's house and they collect anything of value they feel will get you the money awarded to you and auction if off to pay you. It is a lot of hassle and more work on your part for something you could have saved yourself from to start with.
Always check with the LLR if a person in licensed and in good standing.
A licensed contractor will have a contract (a REAL CONTRACT WITH ALL HIS BUSINESS INFORMATION ON IT). He will give you a start date and when he expects to be finished. He will request a deposit for parts and materials to get started. He will also get a permit from the county before he/they start the work.
When he shows up to begin the work or demolition he probably has some help. He may also have contacts for Electrician and Plumber if that is needed or he may be licensed to do all that himself. The difference and benefit you see will be a more coordinated job performance and it will be done correctly. No "hunting you down" with excused why they need more money before they have finished the job. The quality of work will be visible I feel comfortable is saying.
I hope it may help you not to get taken advantage off by an unlicensed person. I have unfortunately had my own bad experiences and am constantly looking for new people I can refer to my clients and customers or use for my own home repairs.
Good luck to you with your next home improvement or repair.
Rosemarie Averhoff, Broker Associate
RE/MAX Metro Assoc