Why is it Important to Ensure Your Contractor is Licensed?


Doing substantial renovations on your home requires you to make a lot of choices on what you want to change, how you want your home to look, and who you want to hire to help make it look that way. Finding the right balance of talent, reliability, and affordability in a contractor can be a challenge. You might feel tempted to hire an unlicensed contractor who comes at an excellent price. However, this decision can end up costing you more than you’d end up saving. Read on to learn about why it’s important to hire only licensed contractors to work on your home, and learn more about how to research a contractor you’re considering to do work on your home.

What’s so great about a license?

Possession of a license indicates that a contractor has passed the state’s licensing exam and paid requisite fees to register as a contractor in the state. In fact, in the state of Maryland, it is a crime to offer your services as a home improvement contractor, subcontractor, or salesperson without a license from the Maryland Home Improvement Commission (MHIC). This license offers a certain level of assurance that, should the contractor do a poor job or fail to complete the work on your home, you will have a recourse and a means of recovering the lost value. In order to maintain their license, every Maryland contractor must pay into the state’s Guaranty Fund which will reimburse homeowners for the amount they paid to a contractor for shoddy or unfinished work, up to $20,000. Further, a licensed contractor should also have a general liability insurance certificate, which they can present to you prior to being hired. Being a license-holding contractor means that the individual will be easier to track down should a job go south; often, unlicensed contractors travel from state to state, making recovery for bad work a challenge.
In addition to the efforts that a contractor must make to gain a license in the first instance, the loss of a license can indicate a number of troubling qualities about that contractor. A contractor that has been the subject of numerous complaints to the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation (DLLR) could have their license revoked. Additionally, loss of a license can indicate that a contractor has been convicted of a crime.

How do I learn more about a contractor?

Researching contractors and learning about other homeowners’ experiences using them is critical, and easily done online. The DLLR strongly encourages consumers to check on the status of a potential contractor’s license by looking them up by name, trade, location, or license number on the state’s database, found here. Additionally, sites like Angie’s List will provide reviews of contractors from other consumers which you can use to make your decision on who to hire.

What do I do if I was the victim of a fraudulent contractor?

Even if a contractor wasn’t licensed, they can still be sued and prosecuted for failing to perform quality work on your home, as well as for crimes such as lying about their credentials or possession of a license. Before pursuing a claim against a fraudulent contractor, consult with a skilled attorney experienced with law relating to real estate and contracting.
If you are looking for experienced legal counsel to assist you with a dispute with a Maryland contractor or other real estate legal issue, contact the knowledgeable and determined Annapolis real estate, construction and land use attorney Matthew S. Evans III for a consultation on your case, at 410-626-6009.

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