As appeared in Sunriver Scene by Shannon Bassett, Caretaking Commander

 

With times continuing to be tough, everyone is looking for a good deal. One place you don’t want take shortcuts is with an unlicensed contractor or service provider. I manage three or four big construction jobs every year for my clients and loads of smaller projects, from remodels, electrical repairs to plumbing and even landscaping. There are plenty of unlicensed contractors out there these days, often with lower bids. However, what can seem like a good deal can wind up costing you in the end. As a result, I always use a licensed contractor.

 

A contractor’s license offers the homeowner some degree of protection during and after the project. An active license with the Oregon Contractors Board (CCB) indicates that someone in the company attended classes for their trade, passed a state exam and can legally work in the State of Oregon. Equally important is the insurance and bonding required by the CCB that protects the homeowner. Liability insurance covers property and bodily injury losses caused by the contractor. Surety bonds pay damages to the homeowner if the contractor fails in his or her duties. Finally, workers’ compensation covers employees who are injured on the job and ensures that those injury claims don’t come back to you, which they could if your contractor doesn’t have workers’ compensation insurance. In addition through the CCB, you as the homeowner have protections, including an avenue to complain and/or recover and receive monetary compensation if problems occur.

 

How do I make sure that I am getting a licensed contractor? Or more importantly, how can you?

 

  • *First and foremost, check the CCB website for the status of the contractor. Search by name or number on the website www.hirealicensedcontractor.com. CCB provides information on the status, bankruptcy, number of years in business, fines and disciplinary actions. Confirm that the names and addresses agree to who you have met with.
  • *On the CCB website you can also make sure the contractor is not involved in any disputes. Past disciplinary actions indicate problems with past clients.
  • *Call the contractors insurance company and confirm insurance is current and will cover your type of project.
  • *Get a list of references and call to find out about the quality of the work and timeliness. Did the contractor stick to the original budget numbers?  Ask if the client was happy with the contractors work. Did the homeowner have any issues with problems after the project was over? Did the contractor come back and take care of everything? Mistakes do happen and sometimes mid-project we homeowners change our minds. In my experience the best contractors have been those who stand behind their work.

 

If your unlicensed contractor is missing in action and phone calls aren’t returned after the job completion, be prepared to pay for someone else to do the repairs. If disputes do arise with your licensed contractor, the CCB has a dispute resolution process including mediation. You can make a claim against the contractor and get the work completed or obtain a judgment for the contractor’s surety payment. The website www.oregon.gov/ccb outlines the process for filing complaints.

 

The name of the game is finding a contractor who will get the job done on time and on budget without putting you at risk. In a multiple bid situation, I rarely go with the lowest bid. Rather I look at the entire project and select the contractor who will meet the budget and be there for the long term to fix any issues. I’d much rather work with a licensed I know I can rely on. Not only do I run into fewer problems on the job, but the peace of mind provided by the additional protection should any problems arise is worth every penny of the extra expense.

 

 

To get help with your home call me, the Caretaking Commander, at Home Fridays. I have been buying, renovating and managing residential and commercial properties for over 20 years. My locally-based company, Home Fridays (homefridays. com), offers professional home management and concierge services to vacation home owners. You can reach me at 541/317-3088 or shannon@homefridays. com.

 

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