Common Law - The FindLaw Consumer Protection Law Blog

Remodeling? Don't Get Hammered by Unlicensed Contractors

As summer approaches, homeowners may be getting ready for some long-awaited remodeling projects. So how can you make sure your contractors are licensed and legal?

Some consumers opt for unlicensed contractors, thinking they're cheaper and will do just as good a job. But is it worth a few bucks?

If something goes wrong with unlicensed help, there may be no recourse for a homeowner who's already paid for remodeling work, Portland's KGW-TV reports. "Unfortunately people reach out to Craigslist, they find [unlicensed contractors], and they get taken," an Oregon state investigator said.

There are ways to protect yourself from shoddy contractors, however. Here are some tips:

Do Your Research.

Contractors who advertise or bid on a remodeling project must generally include their license number. You may also want to research different types of contractors, depending on the scope of your project. And you'll want to know what potential scams are out there as well.

Get Referrals from People You Trust.

Friends and relatives who've had success with contractors can point you toward qualified and reliable workers.

Ask for References.

If your contractor wasn't recommended by someone you know, consider asking for three or four references: previous clients who can vouch for the contractor's work. You may also want to inspect some of your contractor's work in person.

Know the Law.

Federal laws and regulations are meant to protect consumers and keep contractors honest. Because these laws are complicated and are subject to change, it may be wise to consult a local construction attorney if you have questions, and especially if you're a victim of an unlicensed contractor.

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