Hiring a Contractor
Warning Signs That a Contractor is Unlicensed
Unlicensed contractors may request a large
down payment in cash, or a check made out to cash prior to doing
any work. They may even offer to drive you to the bank to
obtain these funds.
Unlicensed contractors will ask you to obtain
the permit or advise you that you don’t need a permit. If
you would just call the Building Safety Division at 269-683-2374, the
staff will be more than happy to advise you whether or not a
permit is required for your particular job.
Unlicensed contractors often will not provide
the consumer with a written contract or guarantee.
Unlicensed contractors will not have a valid
contractor’s number on their contracts or advertisements.
Unlicensed contractors often want to do the
construction work on weekends.
Unlicensed contractors may promise you a
large discount if you sign up immediately.
Beware of a contractor who claims to have
just completed a job down the street and has materials left over
from that job who offers to do the work cheap.
Beware if the contractor has a post office
address with no street address, or gives a local motel as his
Beware of people wanting to do a free home
inspection. Always verify that they are a licensed
contractor prior to allowing them to do such inspections.
Beware of people soliciting to do roof
repair, asphalt or texture coating of driveways.
Beware of contractors who want to use your
home as a demonstration model.
Unlicensed contractors usually do not carry
general liability or worker’s compensation insurance.
Unlicensed contractors normally target the
elderly, uninformed, young and inexperienced.
Unlicensed contractors normally use unmarked
vans or trucks.
Often, unlicensed contractors will become
abusive and threatening when you refuse to do business with them.
CALL THE POLICE DEPARTMENT IF THIS OCCURS.
- Do not give a deposit or sign a contract until you have
confirmed that the contractor is licensed. Ask the
contractor to leave the contract with you and come back the next
day. This gives you the time to look it over without being
pressured or intimidated. Also, you can contact the Building
Safety Division if you suspect a possible problem or if you would like
to check if the contractor has the proper license. The number to
call is 269-683-2374.
Things to do Before Signing a Contract
Always get three (3) bids or estimates before
signing a contract or giving the contractor a deposit.
Call the Bureau of Commercial Services,
Contractor Licensing Division 900-555-8374 for licensing
verification (Monday through Friday, 8:00 am - 5:00 pm ), or
verify online to inquire if a contractor has a valid
Each contractor should have a contractor’s
number listed on his contract that you can use to verify with the
Make sure the work to be done is in writing
on the contract regardless of how minute.
Make sure all warranties are listed on the
contract - not verbal.
Make sure you read all the fine print on your
contract and understand it, or ask your contractor to explain
before you sign the contract.
Include in the contract that the contractor
will supply you with a Contractor’s Final Affidavit (of no liens)
when the job is completed and at the same time you give him the
Five Steps to Selecting a Contractor
Most Michigan contractors are hardworking, honest, skilled and
dependable. Before you hire a contractor for new construction
or home remodeling work, the City's Building Safety Division recommends
the following steps:
Ask to see the contractor's license and write
down the license number for future reference. All
licensed contractors should present you with a business card that
should contain the contractor's license number. Check with the
Michigan Department of Consumer & Industry Services to verify
the validity and current status of the contractor's license.
Further information regarding contractors may be
obtained via E-Mail.
In addition, operator assistance is available for a fee of $1.50
per minute, plus possible line charges at 900-555-8374. You
also have the option of obtaining written verification by sending
your request along with a $5.00 check or money order made payable
the State of Michigan to: Michigan Department of Consumer
and Industry Services, License Verification Unit, P.O. Box 30189,
Lansing, MI 48909 .
Get recommendations from friends and neighbors.
Use a local, well-established contractor. Ask the contractor
to give you references. Then call the references, ask
questions and take a look at the contractor's previous work.
Ask the contractor if the company is insured
against claims covering worker's compensation, property damage and
Get all estimates in writing!
Estimates should be very specific and should include exactly what
services you'll be getting for the estimated cost. If a
bidding process is used, ensure that the estimated costs are based
on the same set of specifications. Get a written contract
that specifies all work to be done and make sure a completion date
is included on the contract.
Be sure to see the building permit before work
starts. The building permit should not be in your
but rather the name of the contractor. Never obtain the building
permit yourself for work being done by a contractor. By
doing so, you assume all the risks and it will be difficult to
recoup money for inferior work.
NOTE: All electrical, plumbing and
mechanical (heating and/or air conditioning) work must be done by a
Michigan Licensed Contractor. Property owners may do their own
work but only for their own residence. Property owners may not
complete electrical, plumbing or mechanical work on rental or
commercial property unless they hold a Michigan State Contractor's
License and they obtain a building permit prior to the start of the
For more information on contractor requirements,
contact the Building Safety Division at 269-683-2374.