Hiring licensed contractors can protect home investment

Published 9:10 am Monday, June 24, 2013

by Kiesa Kay

Homeowners’ horror stories happen, but hiring reputable contractors can save homeowners from tons of trouble. There’s no question that hiring licensed contractors will protect the homeowner and save time and money in the long run, said Steve Jones, Polk County building inspector.

“A house is the biggest investment most people have,” Jones said. “I don’t know why anybody would want to risk it.”

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At a minimum, anyone hired to do big work needs to have personal liability, worker’s compensation and property damage coverage, Jones said. Otherwise, the person who pays for problems could be the homeowner.

“You have to have somebody responsible in case something happens,” Jones said.

A homeowner can do his or her own work on a property at any time, but if work’s hired out to be done, some legal restrictions apply, according to the North Carolina Licensing site, www.nclicensing.org, electrical contractors; contractors who install or restore plumbing, heating, air conditioning or fire sprinkler systems; and general contractors who do more than $30,000 worth of work all need licenses from the state. Getting a license typically includes passing an exam, and in some cases, having proof of financial resources before a project begins.

“When the economy went bad, a lot of people started hunting for jobs,” Jones said. “Sometimes they say they can do a job cheaper, but they’re not always able to do it at all.”

Homeowners can be owner/builders and do the work themselves, hiring hourly help. Some red flags listed by the licensing office include pressure sales tactics, requests for up-front payments and cash-only policies.