There may come a time when an unlicensed roofer works on your home. No matter the reason, you should be aware of the risks of working with someone that fails to obtain the proper permits, insurance, and licenses.
Most general contractors are insured.
However, general roofing contractors often subcontract certain parts of the job.
Thankfully for homeowners, the general contractor will be responsible for the safety, workmanship, and legal compliance of the subcontractors.
This is generally why responsible contractors carry a lot of insurance—from liability to workers compensation.
All of the different insurance coverage protects the homeowner if things go wrong. In fact, most states won’t issue a contractor a license if the minimum level of insurance isn’t in place. Their insurance protects you from the financial consequences of a job gone wrong, injury, or destruction of property.
So what can happen if the contractor isn’t licensed or insured?
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What can go wrong
All sorts of problems can occur on a roofing project, from worker injury to bad workmanship to the destruction of power lines.
If these problems do arise, usually they’re the responsibility of the insured and licensed contractor. The roofing company and their insurance carrier are the ones who foot the bill if something goes wrong.
But, if you don’t hire a licensed and insured contractor to handle the project, you’re responsible for anything that goes wrong. If a contractor’s equipment breaks a power line, you’re on the hook. If a roofer gets hurt and can’t work for a lengthy period, you could be responsible for their medical bills and lost wages.
What’s worse is your homeowners' insurance most likely won’t cover you for these events. Most policies exempt damage caused by the knowing use of illegal or unlicensed contractors.
The odds of quality workmanship are not great.
A licensed roofer has taken the time to meet industry-training standards and work experience. In short, it tells homeowners, “I care about the quality of my workmanship.”
In contrast, if you hire an unlicensed team, you have zero clues as to their level of competency or training. It’s not hard to see how this could quickly become a problem and end up costing countless amounts of money in repairs or replacements.
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There is a strong possibility for long-term financial loss.
There are a number of problems that may arise after the unlicensed contractor finishes the job. The workmanship may hold up for a time, but if the roof starts leaking and needs repairs, good luck getting them to come back to fix it pro bono.
Perhaps more significantly, unlicensed roofers usually don’t have knowledge of local building codes.
If the time comes when you’d like to sell your home, a quality home inspector will notice if the roof isn’t up to code. And if this is the case, you’ll be responsible for any repairs needed to meet local building codes. In addition, disclosing to an inspector that an unlicensed roofer performed serious work on your home may decrease the property’s value.
Always choose a licensed contractor.
While an unlicensed contractor may be the cheaper option up front, it could be the costliest decision you ever make. If the worst-case scenarios happen, you could be sued into bankruptcy. Rather than take the cheaper option of an unlicensed contractor, always do your research and ensure the roofer you hire is properly insured for the job at hand.