Estimated reading time: 4 minutes, 20 seconds
For years I have listened to companies advertising/bragging that they are “Licensed and Bonded” as a sign of strength I suppose. Being “bonded” sounds strong and reputable. Truth is, being Licensed & Bonded really means something. Just not here in Idaho in relation to residential remodeling.
Here in Boise Idaho, if you are a residential remodeling contractor, no one is, “Licensed or Bonded” to me, these words are what I like to call “Weasel Words”.
I am licensed by the City as a Responsible Person but that is a separate thing to do with Erosion and Sediment Control for the EPA. I am not really licensed as a contractor nor bonded for remodeling work for that matter.
Here is what I mean. As of January 1, 2006, all Contractors had to become recognized by the State of Idaho. That means we are all registered by the Idaho State Bureau of Occupational Licenses Department of Self Governing Agencies(That is a mouth full) as a Contracting Business. This is just like Barbers, Morticians, Athletic Agents, & Cosmologists, to name a few. Idaho refuses to license remodeling contractors for some inane reason.
If you have work done for you by an un-registered company or person, you are not legally obligated to pay them. Sure there are fees and forms to become registered and it takes an investment in time ($25 annually and about fifteen minutes). However the truth is that we are far from regulated in the way licensing suggests. Most are, some are flying under the radar!
The joke is that all the sub-trades are licensed by the state. Why not remodeling contractors?
There is hope for the future
I want to be the first voluntarily licensed remodeling contractor in the Treasure Valley. There is a voluntary licensing board in Eastern Idaho that is moving west. They have voted me onto their board, and are currently evaluating my application.
Here is what Bonding means. according to answers.com
“A surety bond is a promise to be responsible for the debt, default, or failure of another. In most instances, bonds are required by federal, state, and local governments to protect the taxpayer dollars that are paying for the project. Surety bonds can also act as an element of pre-qualification. By being bonded, a company is saying that they have undergone the examination by a surety and has been qualified to do the project. It is designed to prevent any loss on the part of the obligee, and the pre-qualification process has assessed the financial strength of the principal as well as their expertise. The surety bond company is putting its assets and financial strength behind the contractor. Because of the rigorous pre-qualification, there is little expectation of loss in the surety bond relationship.”
Boiled down, it means that in the event a project couldn’t be completed by the company that was contracted… the bond could be used to hire a different company to finish the project. Bonded companies essentially do work for municipalities where a bond is required.
In asking around, there is no company that provides this service to residential remodelers even if you wanted to buy a bond. I was told that the one bond ever given to a residential project was for an Architect drawing Bill Gates home.
Some companies buy a bond that covers them in the event a client claims that property was stolen by an employee, like house keepers.
If we aren’t licensed or bonded… What are we?
At Levco, we aren’t Licensed per se, or Bonded! Stick that in your pipe & smoke it! I suppose if you want to up the requirements for Contractors, it will take some lobbying of the legislators who are constantly preoccupied with other stuff. I welcome the day when it does happen. Until then we suggest doing your due diligence and checking out your contractor.
Although we are not licensed in the strict sense of the word, or bonded at all… I do run the business as if we were. Levco is insured as far as liability for 2 million dollars, as well as our personal property and equipment. Knock on wood, we have never had to use it, but it is there none the less. We are also covered for workers compensation (in the event one of our workers gets injured on your job). It would also come into play if say someone that I have hired, that is not insured, gets injured. This is because we withhold the workers comp. from their pay as if we employed them.
If you are looking for a contractor and a company that takes this stuff seriously, and can separate the wheat from the chaff, then Levco is right for you.
On a happy post script, as of 12-16-2014, I am now the first and only licensed remodeling contractor in Boise Idaho! The voluntary program that is alive and well in Eastern Idaho has made its way to Boise. Look for much more on the subject in upcoming posts. Joe