Unregistered contractors could clean you out this spring

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The frigid, nasty winter wreaked havoc on many of our homes, causing damage to our roofs, driveways, shingles, paint, and more.

Now’s the time to consider getting those repairs fixed, but first – it’s important to know how to spot unscrupulous contractors that could leave you on the hook for thousands of dollars.

“Number one thing is make sure they are registered or licensed with the state,” said George Whalen of the Contractors’ Registration and Licensing Board.

To check on a particular contractor, go to the board’s website and enter the name. It will show you whether the contractor has any violations against him or her, what those violations are, and whether he or she is properly insured.

“The problem is if you hire someone who isn’t insured and he falls off the roof,” said Whalen. “If he’s not insured, the first thing you’re going to hear from an attorney, and they’re going to go after the homeowner’s insurance policy.”

According to state law, Rhode Island residents are entitled to a three-day right of cancellation after signing a contract with a contractor.

Consumer Guide: Avoiding Scams and Schemes »
Consumer Guide: Avoiding Scams & Schemes »

Contractors must also give you a mechanics lien notice, which lets you know if your contractor doesn’t pay his subs or supplies he’s bought for your house, a lien could be placed on your home.

“You have to make sure before you make that final payment that 100% of those people have been paid,” Whalen added.

Lastly, homeowners are responsible for making sure the right permits are pulled for their home improvement projects, not the contractor.

If you have a complaint against your contractor, you have one year from the completion date of the work or from the date they stopped working to file a claim.

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