You may have been in this situation yourself or know a friend that has been there, but I’ve probably heard countless stories by now about people shopping for cheaper contractors only to have things not work out the way they wanted them to. Recently, I was having a conversation with a fellow contractor on the islands who was telling me how he consistently encounters potential customers who come to him for an estimate, have him evaluate a job, but then choose to go to a lower bidder or get someone who happens to be handy but not a contractor end up doing the job. Of course, there are plenty of people out there who are incredibly skilled at something, but don’t necessary have the proper license to do the job as an actual contractor. When you are shopping for a contractor for any job, be it an air conditioner install or crown molding in your living room, consider these tips before you go with the lowest bidder or that cousin’s uncle’s brother that you think is just perfect.
Who is pulling the permit for the job? If the person you are planning to hire is asking you to do that, chances are they are unlicensed. What does that mean to you? If you pull that permit and they do the job incorrectly – you will be held liable for anything that goes wrong. If you go ahead and get a job done without a permit, then that work could result in things not being done to code, your insurance not covering defective work or problems that arise from it (think about something like a bad wiring job that starts a fire), and don’t forget penalties that you could pay if you get caught.
Our state requires that we put our license number on our ads, our vehicles, website, etc. So, make sure that the person you are hiring, if they claim to be a contractor who’s giving you a super deal, is compliant in all those things.
Unlicensed contractors will often ask for you to front them some cash, and believe me, I have heard stories the homeowner paid that money only to never see the contractor, the cash again and be left with an incomplete project to boot.
So, if you are hiring a contractor based on price alone, then I have to warn you – you just might get what you pay for and a migraine as a parting gift.
As always, thanks for reading,
Bryan Hayes, along with his brother Todd, is a co-owner of a Sanibel Air Conditioning company on Sanibel, FL. They also own and operate an island-based electrical service company Sanctuary Island Electric, Inc. Bryan can be reached at Bryan@Sanibelair.com