Licensed Bonded and Insured

In our last blog post “Home Remodeling Services | Best Price,” I mentioned that my wife and were planning our own home remodel project. The main advice everyone gave us was, “Make sure your contractor is licensed bonded and insured .” But what exactly does it mean for a contractor to be licensed bonded and insured and why is it important to know as a homeowner? Let’s break it down.

According to the Official Internet Site of the Florida Legislator, there are several types of contractor licenses depending on the work you need done (general, building, residential, sheet metal, roofing, etc…). Your state may have different categories, but these three main types should be fairly similar.

 3 Main Types of Home Remodel Contractors

  • General contractor – services are unlimited to the scope of work to be done.
  • Building contractor – services are limited to remodeling, repair, or improvement of any size building – if the services do not affect the structural elements of the building.
  • Residential contractor – a contractor whose services are limited to construction, remodeling, repair, or improvement of one-family, two-family, or three-family residences which are not more than two floors high.

 

Residential Contractor

licensed bonded and insuredFor the purpose of this article, we are going to focus on a residential contractor in regards to being licensed bonded and insured. We should also distinguish between a registered license and a certified license. A County “Registered” license is issued by one specific County. It’s like a tax payment and is not really the license you want your contractor to have. A State “Certified” license can be used throughout the state. This is the one you want your contractor to have when you ask if they are licensed bonded and insured.

There’s an extensive exam that covers business and finance, contract administration, and project management. To qualify for the examination an applicant must be at least 18 years old and must also meet certain requirements, according to the Florida Department of Business & Professional Regulation Construction Industry Licensing Board.

 

Certified Licensed Residential Contractor Examination Qualifications

  • Four year construction-related degree from an accredited college (equivalent to three years experience) and one year proven related experience
  • One year of experience as a foreman and not less than three years of credits for any accredited college-level courses
  • One year experience as a workman, one year proven experience as a foreman, and two years of credits for any accredited college level courses
  • Two years experience as a workman, one year experience as a foreman, and one year of credits for any accredited college level courses
  • Four years experience as a workman or foreman of which at least one year must have been as a foreman
  • Holding an active certified or registered Florida contractor’s license

 

To become a certified licensed contractor, an applicant must pass all parts of the exam, meet education/experience requirements, obtain worker’s compensation coverage, get a fingerprint back ground check, and demonstrate financial responsibility by including a credit report with the application.

In addition to the exam and other previously mentioned requirements, a certified licensed contractor must also be bonded and insured. While the license is issued by the state, the bond and insurance is backed by an insurance carrier. Contact information, for verification purposes, is listed on the insurance certificate; as is the expiration date of the policy.

Ask if your contractor is licensed bonded and insured. Do a search on your state’s website (Department of Business and Professional Regulation – this one is from Florida) to find information about the status of the license. Reputable companies are happy to provide proof of their adherence to the laws and regulations designed to make certain that contractors, employees, and homeowners are protected during the completion of a project.

NOTE: Minimum amounts required for general liability insurance are :

  • General and building contractors – $300,000 bodily injury, 50,000 property damage
  • All other categories – 100,000 bodily injury, 25,000 property damage

 

If you’re still wondering if your residential remodel contractor should be licensed bonded and insured, the answer is a resounding, “Yes!” By doing so you greatly reduce the odds of having a bad experience. Most states will likely be similar to Florida, so you should be safe just asking if your contractor is licensed, since being bonded and insured is a requirement of obtaining a certified contractor license.

Is being licensed bonded and insured important to you when you choose a contractor for your home improvement projects? Have you ever had a bad experience with a contractor who was not licensed bonded and insured? Share your stories with us so that others can benefit from your experience.

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