The Real Cost of Hiring Unlicensed Contractors

Hiring an unlicensed contractor may seem like an affordable way to get home improvement work done. Nothing could be further from the truth. Work done by unlicensed contractors can be a huge liability for home owners and business owners. This goes for all services, repairs and home-improvement projects, no matter how large or small. KEYT News Channel Three recently reported on the latest consumer warning about unlicensed contractors. If an unlicensed contractor does bad work, and something goes wrong, the home owner or business owner that hired that contractor can be held liable for damages.

What Homeowners Need to Know

New laws make it necessary for any contractor to have a six-page home-improvement contract for any service, installation, repair job or home-improvement project. Previously, there were exclusions for any jobs that were going to be less than $500. Now, every project, no matter how inexpensive, needs a contract. For seemingly insignificant repair jobs, this may seem like overkill, but it actually protects the consumer and other citizens.

How to Hire a Licensed Contractor

The Contractors State License Board of California (CSLB) offers a lot of great information on how to safely hire a licensed contractor with confidence. Listed below are just a few tips to consider before hiring a contractor.

• Always hire a licensed contractor, and ask to see his or her license.
• Verify their license at the CSLB website.
• Don’t make hasty decisions about contractors.
• Don’t ever pay more than 10 percent or $1,000 down on a project.
• Don’t pay cash.
• Never let payments get ahead of the work that is being done.
• Always get at least three bids.
• Check references.
• Always get a contract in writing.
• If you need to file a complaint, contact the CSLB.


If you hire an unlicensed contractor, and somebody gets hurt as a result of the work, you can absolutely be held liable. It’s a gamble that puts other people in danger. Unlicensed contractors don’t carry insurance and they’re not bonded. It may cost a little bit more on the front end to hire a licensed contractor, but it’s much cheaper than having something go wrong with an unlicensed uninsured contractor.

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