It seems that everyone working in the trades these days fancies themselves a “Contractor”! Today I wanted to dive a little deeper so that homeowners can view this topic objectively; and potentially save a bunch of time, money, and frustration in the process. There is a monumental difference between someone claiming to be a “contractor” and a contractor who is LICENSED, AND INSURED! Never take for granted that just because a company claims to be a Contractor that licensing and insurance is a given…IT’S NOT!
A personal story that happened to me just last week. I am currently in search of an additional siding and gutter crew to handle some of the overflow work from the recent snow and ice. I reached out to multiple contractors in Knoxville and scheduled a site visit with a young man. This gentleman was very well spoke and presentable; we talked for about an hour on site; and I reminded him that in addition to the scope of work that I would need a copy of his licensing, general liability insurance, and workers compensation insurance. At the time he said, “no problem”. Fast forward to that evening and I received and email with the scope of work, but everything else was missing. I reached out thinking this was done in error: it was not! He stated, “I have my business license” to which I responded that a business license does NOT make him a contractor. As you would expect, he was NOT insured in any way, shape, or form.
Why this is a problem for the Knoxville Community.
Contractor’s License: The Tennessee State Licensing Board located in Nashville vets all applicants who want to start a construction business. There are certain criteria that need to be met before they are granted licensing. This is to prevent underqualified persons/companies from being able to advertise that they are a “contractor”. Unfortunately, there is no real way of enforcing this.
General Liability Insurance: This form of insurance ensures that if a contractor causes damage to a homeowner’s property, that the damages are covered by the contractor’s insurance policy.
Example: If an unlicensed roofer drops a bundle of shingles on a brand-new Ferrari, do you really think that they have the funds sitting in the bank to pay for the extensive damages…NO!
Workman’s Compensation Insurance: This form of insurance ensures that if a worker injures himself at the jobsite that the contractor’s insurance policy will cover bills associated with the injury.
Example: If a siding installer misses a rung on a ladder and falls 20 feet, he’s most certainly going to need a ride to the hospital. No homeowner wants to be on the hook for that bill should the contractor not have insurance to cover his workers.
Unfortunately, Knoxville is plagued with unlicensed and uninsured contractors! If you watch the news, you’ll most certainly see a weekly story of a homeowner being scammed: the most common discovery is…you guessed it, they are not unlicensed and/or uninsured!