Welcome back to our discussion about Contractor Licensing in New Hampshire, based on the recent NHPR podcast on this topic. Today we’re looking at some legal issues that come about from a lack of licensing.
In many industries, if a need is identified that requires certain standards to be met, a licensing program is often established. A solution is reached through required courses and training, and workers gain a functional knowledge of the area and a proven ability to perform the task. When there are certain standards that need to be met in the building industry, however, the issue is often addressed by introducing new legislation–usually in the form of new building codes that don’t touch on the ethical issues at play.
Because of the lack of licensing for builders and contractors in New Hampshire, legal action is oftentimes the route many people take, and usually only after they’ve been cheated in some way.
Lack of Licensing, Lack of Enforcement
One example from the NHPR interview involved a family who hired a home inspector. Their house received a passing grade, but the family soon discovered a severe outbreak of black mold in a closet. Feeling cheated out of a proper inspection, they called their lawyer first, who sent a mold cleaner to their home. When the cleaner arrived, he informed them that the mold was caused by severe construction errors that would make this a chronic problem. The home inspector failed to identify any of this.
It’s unfortunate, but it happens. There are shady contractors out there who give everyone else a bad name. Sometimes they drastically overcharge, lie about the quality of materials or about their experience, or take down payments and do no work.
With only building codes to rely on as a standard of quality, homeowners are often at a loss. They don’t have time to learn the standards of the building industry, and they shouldn’t have to. But they have no way of knowing if their contractor knows these codes either.
Currently, the only way to handle this type of issue is through legal action after the fact. Bad online reviews are the primary way of preventing people from hiring contractors who charge unfairly or perform poor quality work. Wouldn’t it be nice to know that your contractor is, in fact, qualified to perform the task beforehand?
Licensing As a Standard of Quality
As we already touched on, licensing would make contractors accountable for their work. They would have to pass background checks and be free of criminal history. If nothing else, the minimum that licensing would guarantee is a clean record and an understanding of building codes and industry requirements. A license would not automatically ensure quality, though. That’s where experience comes into play.
When folks pay the low price, they get low quality. If the low bid contractor does a bad job, you’ll have to pay more for the qualified contractor to tear it out and redo it. To avoid this type of problem, seek out a contractor who doesn’t ask for an unrealistic advance. Look for someone with a team, someone with a clear system in place and a solid history of delivering for clients.
At Oxland, we’re passionate about our industry, and about treating homeowners fairly and with respect. This industry is about skill and ethics, and we’re ready to show you what both of those look like. Contact us today with your questions!