Tuesday, October 25, 2011
Avoid The Risk
A significant portion of my business focuses on minor "handyman" repairs. Sometimes, it's a few pictures hung or a shelf put up in a closet. Other times, it's replacing a window treatment or putting up a safety grab bar in a shower. Often times, a client will gather a list of items over a period of time and call me to come in and take care of it all at once.
A common misconception amongst prospective clients is that they don't need to hire a properly licensed and insured individual to handle minor repairs. They figure they'll save a few bucks by not hiring a licensed professional. After all, what could possibly go wrong by having Handyman Joe put up some curtain rods around the house? He doesn't need a license and insurance for that, right? Well........
The fact is, homeowners that hire unlicensed people to work on their property are putting themselves at serious risk. Here's a couple reasons why you should not take the risk of hiring an unlicensed individual to work in your home.
1. A licensed contractor has been vetted by the construction industry licensing board, and he or she has received a certificate of competency in their trade. In addition to being tested on his or her knowledge in the trade, laws, and safety requirements, individuals must pass a strict criminal background check.
Ask yourself: Would I invite someone into my home if I knew they had been convicted of a crime? I would imagine your answer (wisely) is NO. Why on earth would anyone take a risk like that?
Unlicensed individuals that perform home repairs and renovations are simply:
(A) not ABLE to pass competency and/or criminal background checks, or
(B) do not respect the laws that govern the construction industry in which they work.
2. Licensed contractors are REQUIRED to carry liability and worker's compensation insurance. This is for your (the homeowner's) protection. Let's say a homeowner decides reason #1 above is just not that big of a deal, and he or she goes ahead and hires Handyman Joe (unlicensed / uninsured) to put up those curtain rods. Here's the risk that homeowner is taking:
(A) Handyman Joe drops a hammer and breaks a tile - or, maybe the hammer landed on that glass table top and shattered it. Handyman Joe is liable, right? Not so fast!
Did you know that contracts involving unlicensed contractors are unenforceable? This means that by hiring an unlicensed individual to work in the home, Mr. Homeowner is assuming all responsibility for the outcome of the work and any damages that may result.
(B) Handyman Joe falls off the ladder he's working on and breaks his arm - or, maybe he just took a wrong step coming off the ladder and twisted his ankle. As a result, he'll be out of work for a few weeks. Too bad for Handyman Joe, right? Not quite!
Did you know that by hiring an uninsured individual to work in his or her home, Mrs. Homeowner is exposing herself to medical bills and lost wages that may result from Handyman Joe's little work accident? Well, it's absolutely true - even if the accident was clearly Handyman Joe's fault.
So, next time you are looking to get some things done around the house, make sure anyone you hire is licensed and insured. All licensed contractors are REQUIRED to include their license number on all advertisements. Get a license number, a certificate of insurance, and proof of worker's compensation coverage or a valid exemption. Verify the information you are given. You really cannot be too careful when you hire someone to work on your property.