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Unlicensed Contractors

This is Cowboy Bob, also known as Bad Bob. How could this friendly and eager-to-please guy be known as Bad Bob? He just wanted to help with your landscape construction. After all, he gave you a good price, didn’t he? You asked him for references (which he cheerfully supplied) but you weren’t aware that you just called his mother and his uncle posing as customers. They both gave glowing reports of Bob’s prowess in landscape construction. Actually, Bob’s expertise in landscape services is limited to leaf raking for the neighbors.

Bob wanted to expand his little business but he neglected one very important point: BOB DIDN’T BOTHER TO OBTAIN A STATE OF WASHINGTON LABOR AND INDUSTRIES CONTRACTOR’S LICENSE, LIABILITY INSURANCE OR BOND!!

The State of Washington defines a contractor as any person or business who submits a bid to repair, add to, subtract from, improve, etc. the face of the real estate, either the interior or the exterior including the landscape. They must have a license, liability insurance and a bond. Sounds quite harmless for you, doesn’t it? So, maybe you’re thinking his bid will be less expensive without a license. After all, the responsibility is all on Bob, isn’t it? Let’s take a look at what can happen to YOU….

• You give Bob money up front for materials. The days go by and Bob never returns. You have no recourse to recover your money.

• Bob orders materials, installs everything to your satisfaction, collects his money and leaves. Suddenly you’re receiving calls from suppliers and construction liens are being placed on your property. Seems Bob forgot to pay his suppliers! Since he didn’t pay his suppliers, guess who they have a right to force payment from?

• Since Bob needed a little help with the work, he hired John. Arriving at work on his first day John trips and falls over a landscape rake left by Bob in your yard. John hits his head on the corner of your concrete step and also breaks his leg. The prognosis is not good. Since Bob has no liability insurance through L&I you are responsible for all John’s medical and rehabilitation costs.

• With some people who hire an unlicensed contractor, all that happens to them is their money is gone and they have more of a mess than they started with. Then they must begin the search to find a licensed and experienced contractor. After cleaning up the initial fiasco and performing the work correctly, they are paying almost double for a decent job plus what they paid the unlicensed contractor.

How do you protect yourself? 1. Verify the license number thru L&I. The license number should be on all advertising such as bids, business cards, etc. 2. Call 1-800-647-0982 or go to L&I website at http://www.lni.wa.gov

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