Does your bathroom need to be remodeled? Are you having problems with leaky pipes? Then you need a licensed plumbing contractor ASAP. However, you shouldn’t hire just anyone, and especially not a so-called “handyman”. Instead, follow these guidelines when hiring a contractor:
* If a contractor randomly stops by your house offering up his services and requires a down payment, tell him politely you’re not interested.
* Verify the contractor is licensed. You simply can’t trust an unlicensed contractor. You can verify a contractor’s license at www.myfloridalicense.com.
* Ask your contractor for references to verify his credentials.
* Pay, in full, when the job is completed. If your contractor requires a down payment, make sure his references check out well.
* Ask your contractor to prove they are fully insured.
Handymen can only make minor repairs
Since most handymen are not licensed, they are only able to make the most minor repairs. What types of repairs can an unlicensed contractor handle for you? Simple cleaning tasks, paint your walls, etc. However, if he handles more complicated tasks, he is breaking the law.
For more advanced and important services, you must hire a licensed contractor for a couple of reasons. First off, the state of Florida may prosecute the unlicensed contractor. Also, you simply can’t trust the quality of work from someone that hasn’t put in the work to become a licensed contractor.
The type of services a licensed contractor can legally provide include plumbing, electrical work, removing and adding new walls, building structures, room additions, etc. These are complicated tasks that a simple handyman should not be trusted with. Let’s take a look at the risks of trusting a handyman with major repairs:
What happens when you hire a handyman to handle major repairs?
Let’s say you hire an unlicensed contractor that doesn’t carry liability insurance to lay new concrete throughout your driveway. The contractor, while working on your driveway, accidentally drops a large sum of concrete that lands in your neighbor’s driveway and lawn. Imagine how angry the neighbors will be. However, their anger will be the least of your worries.
Since your contractor is uninsured, liability insurance won’t cover the damages. That means you’re on the hook for the expenses – which could be thousands of dollars. A licensed, fully insured contractor not only is more likely to avoid accidents. They also carry the necessary insurance to prevent you from getting stuck with a costly bill in the event of an accident.
According to the state of Florida, there are 22 types of regulated contractors. The handyman occupation isn’t one of them. Due to this classification – or, lack thereof – the state isn’t going to protect you from financial loss should your handyman cause damage to other people’s property.
It’s your house. You are responsible for any damage done to surrounding properties even if you aren’t the contractor. The contractor you hire must be insured and licensed in order to be protected. Accidents happen especially when an unlicensed handyman takes on a project he isn’t qualified to handle.
How to ensure your contractor is insured and licensed
To ensure your contractor carries the proper insurance, simply ask him for proof of insurance just like a police officer asks a speeder or driver that is involved in an accident. Contractors should carry proof of insurance. To find out for sure your contractor is licensed to provide the requested services, go to www.myfloridalicense.com and look him up.
If you happen to come across a handyman that attempts to offer you services he isn’t licensed to perform, please contact your local DBPR Regulation/Compliance office and submit a complaint. What this will do is send the handyman a clear message that performing unlicensed major repairs is illegal and wrong.