As a licensed contractor, you may encounter clients who claim to have received a lower quote from another contractor or a better offer. However, you may discover these individuals are not licensed, insured, or bonded contractors and need the proper documentation.
In a recent case in central Florida, a sheriff’s department conducted a sting operation by placing ads and contacting individuals performing work on houses. They requested quotes and bids for services such as roofing or painting. They found that many individuals were allegedly unlicensed or needed the appropriate workers’ compensation insurance for their businesses.
It is crucial for customers or clients seeking to hire someone to work on their property to verify that the contractor has the right insurance. You may be held liable if an uninsured or unlicensed contractor causes an injury or accident while working on your property. Therefore, hiring a licensed and insured contractor for your peace of mind and protection is essential.
The Sheriff’s office sting operation aimed to remove unlicensed contractors from the market. Legitimate contractors have to pay bills, insurance, surety bonds, work comp, and licensing fees, which makes their services cost more. Unlicensed contractors can offer lower prices, but customers are exposed to more risk. Usually, there is a reason why someone operates without a license. It is not only about avoiding licensing fees; they may not be experienced enough to get a job in a legitimate company or have a criminal background or drug problem that prevents them from getting hired.
Many people with such issues tend to do odd jobs or work as handymen. However, their services may not be safe, even if they do a good job. In case of an injury, insurance claims and liability fall on the client or homeowner. It is not our place to judge whether odd jobs are good or not, but hiring an unlicensed contractor is a risk that should not be taken. Legitimate contractors can make more money, and skilled tradespeople can easily find jobs in such companies.
As a licensed contractor, you are likely familiar with the issue of potential employees with criminal records or backgrounds that prevent them from being bonded or getting work comp. Additionally, they may be unreliable and fail to show up for work. These individuals now compete against legitimate contractors who do not try to gouge customers with high prices but whose rates are higher due to the need to hire quality staff at a higher hourly rate. Cheaper workers are typically unemployable elsewhere.
The recent sting operation was just the beginning of a more significant problem. There are markets with hundreds of unlicensed contractors competing with licensed contractors. As a potential client, you can prevent this by verifying that anyone coming to work on your property has a license and insurance that they can show you. It would help if you also verified the insurance by contacting the company to ensure it is still valid, as some unlicensed contractors may obtain insurance and cancel it.
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