San Francisco Homeowners Should Beware of Low-Priced Moonlighters
This letter was written by the CEO of the Service Roundtable, Matt Michel.
An Open Letter To Homeowners:
In tough economic times, people look for ways to cut corners and save money. A professional contractor knows this and will present options and suggest ways you might save money, especially if you express concern about expenses.
There are many safe ways to cut costs. The use of moonlighters and handymen lacking professional industry accreditation is not one of them. While it’s true that moonlighters can often perform satisfactory work, you take risks when hiring one.
By nature, moonlighters lack specialty trade licensing, do not carry workers compensation insurance for employees, and liability insurance. Usually, they cannot permit the work they perform because they are operating illegally.
If a handyman makes a mistake, such as the unlicensed plumber who accidentally burnt down a home when trying to “sweat a line” inside a wall, he is unlikely to have insurance to cover the loss. You may be stuck with the deductible and if your property valuation is not up to date, you may not be able to fully replace your home and possessions. Plus, if you file a claim against your homeowner insurance, you will probably face higher premiums going forward.
If the work performed is part of an insurance claim, check with the insurer before work begins to see if they require work to be performed by a licensed contractor and properly permitted. You do not want to discover a requirement for permits to ensure the work complies with building codes after the fact.
When uninsured moonlighters or handymen injure themselves while working on your property, you are legally responsible. You might be liable for medical expenses, for compensation if the individual cannot work, and for pain and suffering.
Typically, work by moonlighters and handymen is unwarranted. If the handyman fixed a symptom and not the problem, or performed slipshod work, you may have no recourse (and may not even be able to find the handyman).
Also, be careful who you allow in your home. During a sting operation to identify unlicensed contractors, some of the suspects charged in the sting had drugs on their person. One had an outstanding warrant for battery.
Professional, Licensed, Insured Contractors Meet Higher Standards
Quality, licensed contractors have a stake in your community. They carry appropriate levels and types of insurance. They invest in training, certifications, permits, and proper tools for the work. They perform background checks on employees. They stand behind their work. Professional service contractors exist to serve. That includes meeting your budget… but safely and reputably.
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