The Importance of Proper Licensing for Contractors


If you have a home improvement project in your future, it is very important that you make sure the person you hire is licensed by the Maryland Home Improvement Commission.  The Commission regulates contractors and the sales force involved with the home improvement industry, including remodels and repairs.

It may be tempting to hire an unlicensed contractor who delivers a cheaper estimate, but if the home improvement repair goes wrong, you have few options for recovery.   

Also consider that a licensed contractor must have at least two years of experience and is required to pass a licensing exam. Your properly licensed contractor understands how to get the job done with the correct permits and on time, all conditions of his licensing.

Part of being a professional involves carrying $50,000 in liability insurance to protect everyone from bodily injury and personal and property damage that could occur during the home improvement. 

No one expects problems to occur, but large-scale projects can come with potential dangers on-site. Additionally, when it comes time to sell your home, the fact that your home improvement had the correct permits pulled and the work done up to code will make selling your home that much more hassle-free.

Why Proper Licensing is Important

You undergo a home improvement project, but unfortunately the roof leaked, and the leak ruined your floors.

In Maryland, if your contractor is licensed, the Maryland Home Improvement Commission (MHIC) will investigate any complaint filed by the homeowner and prosecute those contractors who violate the home improvement laws. The homeowner could be awarded monetary damages against the contractor. 

The fund has the ability to reimburse homeowners due to poor workmanship or a failure to fulfill a home improvement contract. It only applies to work done by a licensed contractor.

A homeowner can be awarded up to $20,000 for poor workmanship.

General Contracting

Builders should acquire a construction license.  Out-of-state contractors should obtain a nonresident construction license.  Maryland eliminated subcontractor licensing in July 2016. A subcontractor must work under an MHIC licensed contractor.

Most home improvements do require the licensing of contractors. You can call the Maryland Department of Labor to verify the license status of any contractor before beginning a home renovation at (410) 230-6231.

Home Improvements – License Required:

  • Installing patios and retaining walls
  • Installing a pole building
  • Install a movable shed
  • For the installation of solar panels, regardless of whether they are on the home or an outbuilding
  • Tree experts and trimmers are licensed by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources
  • Gravel driveways
  • Roof work or installation
  • Painting
  • An addition
  • Installing a central vacuum system
  • Installing tile, wood or other flooring is considered a home improvement  

Home Improvements – License Not Required:

  • Demolition and cleanup of a property
  • For the installation of carpeting, for example, a license is not required
  • Installing a wall mounted television is not considered a home improvement so no license is required
  • Chimney sweep

Do be careful of someone who comes to your home to offer you a driveway sealcoating, for example.  This is a common scam in Maryland that could cost you thousands of dollars if the materials used are below par.

Look at someone’s business card to see if it contains a Maryland contractor’s number.

Types of Licensing

You do not need a license to perform general contractor work in Maryland. The license is required by the state if you are doing home improvement projects or for plumbing, electrical systems, or HVAC work.   

  • Master Electrician License – Required for home improvement projects

  • Plumber’s License- Requires a Master or Journey Plumbing License

  • HVACR License- Also requires a master, limited contractor or journeyman license

A Professional Experienced Real Estate Lawyer   

There is so much that can go wrong during a home improvement project and you can prevent having any regrets about the hiring of an unlicensed contractor.  At that point you have very few options to make it right.

Contact us for a complimentary consultation at 410-431-2599 in our Annapolis or Severna Park offices. Attorney Matthew Evans wants to make sure your project is protected from the beginning until the end.

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