Every state in the U.S. has a Contractors Board that is in charge of overseeing the licensing of all contractors including plumbers. State Contractors Boards were established for the safety, health and welfare of the public. They are an excellent resource to use when hiring a licensed plumber.
The state contractors board for your state can give you the license status of any contractor you plan to hire whether he is an electrical, general or plumbing contractor. Before you begin any job that requires a permit, for your own safety, it is highly recommended that you make sure your contractor is a licensed contractor. Often, you can look up the license status online in minutes.
Hiring a licensed plumber protects you in various ways. Being licensed means that the contractor has liability insurance so you are covered if any damage is caused to your property. Plumbers work with water lines, gas lines, drain lines, water heaters, faucets, and more. Any and all of which can easily do damage to you home if not handled properly. When a permit is required like for re-piping a house or installing a new water heater a licensed plumber will be able to keep everything safe and up to code because knowing the code and permit requirements is part of the licensing process. Some states even have a residential recovery fund where you can get money back if you have suffered a loss from a licensed state contractor.
Another thing to keep in mind is that there are other risks involved with hiring an unlicensed contractor. For example, an unlicensed plumber and other unlicensed contractors do not carry workers compensation insurance, so if a worker got injured on your property you could be held liable. Also, any contract you make with an unlicensed contractor is null and void, so you don’t really have any guarantee that the job will be completed as agreed.
Tips for hiring a licensed contractor:
- Get job references. Word of mouth is always a great resource. Talk to neighbors, friends, family, or other local resources so you know who is good. Other contractors you might already have can give you a good reference as well.
- Get at least 3 estimates. This way you know if any one is way out of the ballpark. Pricing a plumber may take a little extra time, but the savings can be significant.
- A written contract is a must. Getting it in writing provides you with records of everything that should happen, when, and for how much. Make sure you do not sign it until you understand it all even if it means delaying the job.
- Do not pay cash. This way you can have better records of payments made towards the job total. Also, request receipts as a back-up even when paying with a check.
- Call or check online with the Better Business Bureau to make sure the contractor does not have any outstanding complaints that your worried about.