Salt Lake City, Utah

Some people in Utah decide to look into whether their contractor is properly licensed   after they notice a problem. By then, it's too late.

Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing Director Mark Steinagel says, "Licensure doesn't perfectly protect anyone. We all know that. But it gives a layer of protection that helps. "

Steinagel says there are a few things that may not necessarily be red flags for customers looking for a contractor, but they should make a homeowner pause before accepting the bid.


The contractor who needs all payments for the project before he starts his work

"I would be very nervous if somebody wanted the entire project costs up front," Steinagel says. "That would tell me something is wrong with their company that they don't have the wherewithal to at least get started and [receive] incremental payments."

There have been many horror stories about a contractor taking money for a project who began work only to not finish. If a contractor is good, Steinagel says you should be able to make a written agreement with him guaranteeing incremental payments as the job progresses.


The contractor with the ridiculously low price

"The low price doesn't mean for sure that somebody is not good. It would make me want to check, even more, their references and the license," Steinagel says.

Getting a bid from a contractor that's much lower than what others would bid isn't necessarily a reason not to hire him, but there may be some underlying motives as to why the bid is so low. That particular contractor may not be fully licensed, so he wouldn't be paying into the workers' compensation and other insurance funds. Or, he may have judgments against him that he's trying to pay off, so he'll undercut other contractors to bring in quick money.


The "you have to decide now" deal

During the summer, you may see more contractors knocking on your door asking for work. Many of these workers are legit, and they could do fine work. But there are some that will pressure you to accept their bid immediately. Imagine this hypothetical scenario where someone knocks on your door and says, "I just happen to have some extra cement, and it's going to be ruined if I don't lay it right away. I noticed your driveway needs some repair. Why don't I just do it now?"


Steinagel says this imaginary scenario could become very real over the summer. If someone pressures you to pay them before you can check their licensure online, Steinagel says this is a bad sign.

"[Many] are not licensed in Utah. They just come in quickly across the border and hit a neighborhood really quickly and then move out," he explains.

Steinagel says it's easy to check out a contractor online. Just go to and click on verify license.

There are several benefits to using a fully accredited contractor. For instance, if a homeowner goes with an unlicensed contractor who defaults on the project, any subcontractors that were hired are allowed to sue the homeowner for the money owed. If the homeowner uses a licensed contractor, they're protected from these lawsuits.


Article courtesy of and Paul Nelson


Know before you go.