Hiring a licensed landscape contractor may be the most important decision you make when planning your next landscaping project. You may be confident in your ability to complete the project on your own, but if anything goes wrong, you could end up paying more money than you expected on the project.
To protect your property, carefully hire a licensed landscape contractor who can save you time, money, and effort; in the long run, the pros of working with a licensed contractor outweigh any cons. When you are ready for your next landscaping project, make sure you are hiring a contractor who meets the legal requirements, keeping in mind the dangers that you could encounter if you hire someone unqualified.
What is a Licensed Contractor?
A licensed landscape contractor can legally do skilled labor on another person’s home or property provided they are licensed. A contractor must have the required education, training, experience, and insurance required by the state. The landscaper must also follow all applicable laws, pass the required examinations, and have the appropriate trade license. Licensed landscape contractors can enter into legal contracts with you; this should put your mind at ease, because you now know that they will have, to by law, accomplish the work the way you want and need them to.
The Requirements of a Licensed Contractor
When it’s time to choose, you should research the best licensed contractors so that you can check them out before proceeding with a particular contractor.
In order to obtain a contractor’s license, a contractor must do the following:
- Register with the state
- Pass all required industry examinations on competency and knowledge
- Meet all federal, state, and local laws; contractors are required by law to maintain a contractor’s license
- Have relevant experience and knowledge in the industry; a licensed contractor would know what permits to file and where to file them.
- Have the proper insurance: a licensed contractor is lawfully required to have insurance; when verifying a potential contractor’s insurance, check the date of the last insurance renewal
- Worker’s Compensation, Liability Insurance, and Bond Insurance
Most states require contractors to have specific insurance policies such as liability or worker’s compensation as part of the trade license requirements.
Workers’ compensation helps injured workers through payments for lost wages and/or medical services needed. With workers’ compensation, companies pay premiums and the insurance agencies pays the benefits owed to the injured party.
Contractors with liability insurance may cover property damage and injured landscapers; however, liability insurance does not pay for repairs that need to be made or additional work that must be done to make you a satisfied customer.
A bond would typically cover that. A bond manages the involvement of a third party in order to protect both parties. Bonds allow you to seek reimbursement if you are financially harmed due to shoddy work or a failure to pay workers by the landscaping business you hired.
Dangers of Having an Unlicensed Contractor
Did you know that if an unlicensed worker, a landscape contractor or a sub-contractor, gets injured on the job, you are liable?
This means the injured party can sue you rather than an insurance agent, and any injured worker can make your life unpleasant. Make sure the contractors have up to date licenses. In other words, check the qualities and requirements of a contractor before you hire him or her to take on a big project around your property.
Know to verify their license/insurance
So, what do you need to verify? Ensure that the worker or company you plan to hire has a proper contractual license. Double check their credentials, take a look at previous projects they have done, and verify their licensing details by contacting the National Association of State Contractors Licensing Agencies. Most of these things can be researched on the company’s website, but if any questions remain unanswered, ask the company before you allow them to start working for you.
The Benefits of Hiring a Licensed Contractor
Hiring a licensed contractor will benefit you in many ways. A licensed professional will follow a systematic plan for the project to ensure it meets your requirements; they map this out carefully ahead of time. They know how the process is done, and they can serve you in a professional manner.
Now you can see the many advantages of using a licensed professional contractor, but there are still some cons that must not be ignored. Also, an unlicensed contractor may be hard to find after the fact when a problem occurs after the job is finished.
California Law for Hiring a Licensed Contractor
Understand the state requirements for the area you live in. In California, to work in certain areas as a contractor, you must get a California Contractors State License (CSLB). All contractors who work in California on a building, highway, road, parking facility, railroad, or other structure where the project’s total cost of labor and materials if $500 or more must obtain a license.
Do your part when hiring a contractor. Check them out. Ask them any questions that you still may have. Check their references, see if you can obtain any referrals from previous customers, and review what it takes to earn a contractor’s license so that you can verify their credentials. To verify a proper California contractor license, go to https://www2.cslb.ca.gov/OnlineServices/CheckLicenseII/CheckLicense.aspx.
While you do have free-will and can certainly work with an unlicensed contractor, the end result could ring way worse than you can imagine; it’s illegal. You may not have any assurances, guarantees, let alone contracts or licensing arrangements. You could end up paying for the job more than once if it isn’t done right the first time. The laws for protecting you during your big projects are out there; it’s up to you to take advantage of them and follow the instructions on what to check when you are hiring a contractor.