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Old 10-25-2010, 03:05 PM
 
5,546 posts, read 9,360,884 times
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I have a handyman I've used quite a bit. He's reasonable and quite good at what he does. However and, as the saying goes, you get what you pay for.

A few years back I had him paint my house. Well, he did the labor but I bought all the stuff. He hired a worker who did bad work and I overheard the worker one day complain about his wrist and I realized...oops...this guy could decide to sue me over his wrist. So I wasn't happy having the worker here and told the handyman this. I did put this job in writing and made both sign the contract (releasing me from liability) and also I think I did end up paying more than what I should have - but maybe not.

This time around it's just verbal and he has another worker helping him on occasion. No contract, no license, no worker's comp. I confess I get nervous when the worker is using the saw.

Anyway, I've paid him 3/4 of the job and there is still much to be done, but he is charging me a pretty low price. Plus, there is a whole room left of carpet to be ripped up and laminate laid down and he says that will have to wait for a couple of weeks as he has another job. Ok and fine. But I don't want piles of carpet around for weeks. I've tried to be really flexible and he comes and goes as he pleases and doesn't work for more than a few hours at a time.

He recently had a friend of his make me a wood strip and told me it would be $100. I suspect a kickback somewhere in there. I had not agreed to this and it doesn't look like $100 worth but I paid it anyway. I don't want him walking away from things, but I do want to make sure he finishes it and that it doesn't end up costing me too much more than what we agreed on. Am I being to lax or should I be more assertive? I could always hire a licensed contractor to do the last room and get things done faster and make sure things get done right (and without the worry of someone's finger getting chopped off). Also, there is much furniture to be moved back into place and I worry about this helper saying he hurt his back moving furniture and then suing. Also, the last room is more complicated due to tile involved (either has to be ripped up with new tile put down or cut the laminate curved). What would you do if you were me? Thanks. Sorry for the length but there are lots of details.
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Old 10-25-2010, 03:15 PM
 
Location: Knoxville
4,620 posts, read 23,294,064 times
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I just don't have unlicensed people work on my house.
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Old 10-25-2010, 03:19 PM
 
5,546 posts, read 9,360,884 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Barking Spider View Post
I just don't have unlicensed people work on my house.
If I may ask, what is your main reason for that?

I am feeling a bit uncomfortable about things, but don't quite what to do or say at this point. His plan is to come over tomorrow and put on some baseboards and move some things back into place (a couple of heavy things I suspect) and just not sure what to do. I guess I could just share my concerns with him and tell him I'll have someone else finish up the job, but I'd sure like to at least get the baseboards put back on and have the stuff moved back into place. I am getting tired of sleeping on the sofa!
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Old 10-25-2010, 03:26 PM
 
Location: Simmering in DFW
6,952 posts, read 21,192,097 times
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Misty, I have been thru much of these same issues and actually have a contractor right now who I worry about. The only thing that maybe can help is to sit down together and write up a schedule for completing the project. However, must admit my guys don't stay on schedule. I'll be interested in what others say.....
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Old 10-25-2010, 03:30 PM
 
5,546 posts, read 9,360,884 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Squirl View Post
Misty, I have been thru much of these same issues and actually have a contractor right now who I worry about. The only thing that maybe can help is to sit down together and write up a schedule for completing the project. However, must admit my guys don't stay on schedule. I'll be interested in what others say.....
Are your guys licensed?

One thing I just discovered, it requires a license to do any job in this state over $750. This job is over that limit. The guy he is using is not an illegal, so I'm not worried about that. I am worried about liability issues though. The sawing part is over (well, except for the last room) so that's one less worry. But the moving part is not. The helper guy is nice enough, but still...he's on disability, deals with pain issues, so of course my brain goes there...

I trust the handyman, but not necessarily his helpers. Oh, and another thing, I've left the key for them and this will mean an added expense to have the lock changed once this job is over.
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Old 10-25-2010, 04:03 PM
 
Location: Jacksonville, FL
8,852 posts, read 9,020,926 times
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Coming from the contractor/handyman side of the issue, you have every right to be worried. Any handyman you hire should be licensed and insured, and have either worker's comp insurance or, for a sole proprietorship, a worker's comp exemption. And if it is a sole proprietorship, he shouldn't have any helpers unless they are individually qualified (license, insurance, worker's comp exemption) on their own. You should be worried that you could get sued if his helper gets hurt. It is a very real possibility, from the legal side of things.

To take it farther, if you are using unlicensed, uninsured contractors, you have absolutely no recourse if they don't finish the job or if they cause damage to your property while doing the job. With a licensed individual or company, you can go through legal channels to rectify unfinished work. With unlicensed contractors, the only thing you may accomplish by bringing it to authorities is to incur a hefty fine for hiring unlicensed workers.

As you said, you get what you pay for. While the unlicensed handyman may be a bit cheaper than someone with license and insurance obligations, the headaches that come with saving that little bit of money, as well as the possibility of further expense if something goes wrong, make it potentially much more costly.
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Old 10-25-2010, 04:09 PM
 
5,546 posts, read 9,360,884 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JimRom View Post
Coming from the contractor/handyman side of the issue, you have every right to be worried. Any handyman you hire should be licensed and insured, and have either worker's comp insurance or, for a sole proprietorship, a worker's comp exemption. And if it is a sole proprietorship, he shouldn't have any helpers unless they are individually qualified (license, insurance, worker's comp exemption) on their own. You should be worried that you could get sued if his helper gets hurt. It is a very real possibility, from the legal side of things.

To take it farther, if you are using unlicensed, uninsured contractors, you have absolutely no recourse if they don't finish the job or if they cause damage to your property while doing the job. With a licensed individual or company, you can go through legal channels to rectify unfinished work. With unlicensed contractors, the only thing you may accomplish by bringing it to authorities is to incur a hefty fine for hiring unlicensed workers.

As you said, you get what you pay for. While the unlicensed handyman may be a bit cheaper than someone with license and insurance obligations, the headaches that come with saving that little bit of money, as well as the possibility of further expense if something goes wrong, make it potentially much more costly.
Thanks, JimRom. After googling on this and thinking this over more, I am now looking for a nice way to break the news to the handyman, without causing a problem. I've given him 3/4 of the money and am happy to call it even at this point. I just don't want his helper moving stuff tomorrow at all. So...how do I word this such that I end the job (before anything goes wrong) and still remain on good terms? Last thing I want to do is to plant the idea in his worker's head to go to the Dr. or something (not that I am sure people don't already realize this sort of thing happens). I would still be ok with having the handyman (alone) do small things around here, plus all his stuff is here, so I am wanting to minimize any hard feelings.
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Old 10-25-2010, 04:23 PM
 
Location: Dallas/Ft. Worth, TX
2,386 posts, read 7,062,620 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Barking Spider View Post
I just don't have unlicensed people work on my house.
I just don't have unlicensed people work on my house (when I need someone else)! I also do not have any work performed on my house without a contract. The reasons are well stated in your posts and I'll add more:
  • "you get what you pay for" - Sometimes, not very often, will you get a deal on quality work and service. Unlicensed people can offer you much lower prices because they do not pay the costs of doing business that properly licensed people do, i.e. insurances, license fees, recurring licensing fees, proper taxes, permits when required, recurring training required by many licenses, etc., etc., etc.
  • "He hired a worker who did bad work" - When you use unlicensed people and run into bad work then you generally have few options to hold over their head. Properly licensed people do not want to loose their license which is their source of income. Many times they will acknowledge their errors and try to make good instead of having complaints or lawsuits filed against them. If they damage something licensed people most likely have insurance to cover it where unlicensed people do not! Insurance underwriters will not insure people who are not legally licensed.
  • "I overheard the worker one day complain about his wrist and I realized...oops...this guy could decide to sue me over his wrist." - This goes towards having proper accountability and insurance for their licensed function. Not all States necessarily require properly licensed people to have disability insurance for their workers but many do.
  • "I've paid him 3/4 of the job and there is still much to be done," - Most licensed people, the honest ones, are not going to require high up-front payments for their work. Yes they do require a deposit and potentially incremental payments but not huge (percentage wise) up front deposits.
  • "I am feeling a bit uncomfortable about things" - With properly licensed people you have less to worry about.
  • For every job that is contracted with an unlicensed person a hard working, honest, licensed person loses out. Those that operate within their license, honestly and ethically can not compete with the unlicensed contractor. Eventually the properly licensed contractor with the family of "X" number of kids and a spouse goes out of business and suffers.
  • If I have a problem with a properly licensed contractor who tries to skip out on me all I (or my Attorney if need be) have to do is contact the licensing board to obtain their vital information so they can be easily tracked down. Do you even know if the unlicensed contractor you are using is giving you his real name?
The issue of liability does not stop when that contractor, or their helper, is finished using the power tools. They can always trip over your threshold on the way out for their afternoon beers at 2:00 P.M. and then put a claim in with your homeowners insurance carrier. They can pull out of your driveway and get nailed by another vehicle and make all types of claims about your hedges obscuring visibility, and then put a claim in with your homeowners insurance carrier.

What would I do IF I was in your spot? I would look over all of the work that has been performed and compare it to what you have paid out. Don't forget you already have some of the materials on site for parts of the job not yet completed. If the leftover amount is an acceptable loss to you then I would bar the contractor from the site, and hire a licensed professional to finish the rest. If the loss amount is above what you can afford then you had best have a very pointed conversation with the unlicensed contractor and make sure they give you what you paid for at that point.

You should be aware that a "License" comes in two basic flavors. One is a professional license for example a electrician, plumber, etc. These are licenses given usually by the State for completing a course of study and or experience. The other flavor of license is a business license. These are given from the local level all the way to the State level depending on your State and locality. I will not use a person who does not carry both licenses when required.
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Old 10-25-2010, 04:36 PM
 
Location: southwestern PA
20,419 posts, read 42,085,933 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mistygrl092 View Post
No contract, no license, no worker's comp.
OMG!
I would never have anyone work on my house without those three things...
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Old 10-25-2010, 04:43 PM
 
5,546 posts, read 9,360,884 times
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Thanks so much for your thorough post, Escalan.

You make many good points and my main worry at this point is liability. I don't even know that a homeowners policy would cover someone I hired who wasn't licensed or insured - I am guessing not since this job is over the $750 mark in this state. And even if it were to cover something, once a person files a homeowners complaint that's it! Good luck getting HO insurance again (so I've been told). And if there were any hospital or Dr. bills, the provider would still come after me! So I am just trying to figure out a way to stop this job at this point without causing hard feelings OR planting the idea in anyone's head to come up with an injury based on work that's been done to date. I don't have too much time to think of something, as the handyman is supposed to be here tomorrow morning. I guess I can always just say that I want things done sooner and not mention the insurance issue, but that could backfire and he could agree to do the job sooner. Still, there is too much work left to do.

Just got off the phone with another guy who I thought was licensed but isn't. He's a step in the right direction, however, as at least he and his worker are insured.

With this helper being on disability, with pain issues, other issues, I simply can't risk it. How to deliver this message is the question.
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