New law requires contractors provide licensing information to home owners
September 6, 2017
By Sharane Gott, Better Business Bureau Serving Acadiana
Acadiana homeowners are now much better protected when they find themselves in need of a home improvement or residential contractor.
Better Business Bureau Serving Acadiana has often heard horror stories from consumers concerning shoddy work or unfinished jobs, especially after major storm events such as hurricanes and the August 2016 floods.
In a move applauded by BBB, the Louisiana legislature recently passed a new law effective this month requiring residential and home improvement contractors to present licensing and insurance information to clients before doing any work.
According to the new law, licensed Louisiana contractors have to provide their name, contractor license or registration number, classification, current insurance certificates evidencing the amount of liability insurance maintained and proof of workers' compensation coverage. Furthermore, this information must be given in writing to the home owner even if the homeowner does not request the information.
Bryan Tabor of BBB Accredited Ace Plumbing in Lafayette said the new law, designed to protect consumers from unlicensed and uninsured contractors, will be a great benefit.
“Often, many homeowners assume everyone is following the rules, but some don’t,” Tabor said. “If a contractor has no insurance and an accident happens, the liability could fall on the home owner’s insurance, causing their rates to increase. This is good for home owners because now, by law, all contractors have to provide this information to them.”
He added the new law also levels the playing field for all contractors bidding on a job because everyone needs to be licensed and insured.
In Louisiana, all home improvement contractors must have a registration to perform any job over $7,500. This information must also be provided to local city or parish authorities before a permit could be issued.
BBB offers the following tips for hiring a great contractor:
- Check out a contractor at bbb.org to see how long they have been in business, if they are accredited, and if there are any complaints against their business.
- When hiring a contractor to do any type of work, get at least three estimates. Make sure the contractors provide written proof of their contractor license and insurance. Try to arrange a low down-payment and only pay the contractor according to how much work has been completed. Do not make the final payment until the job is completed and the final project meets your standards. Always pay with either a credit card or check, never cash.
- Check References. Ask the previous customers if the job was completed to their specifications and if it was completed on schedule. Ask why they would recommend that particular contractor and if they would use their business again. It is also important to find out if the original estimate was close to what they paid or if the contractor charged unforeseen costs along the way.
- Ask the contractor for a written agreement that clearly includes all of the project details. The contract should consist of contact information, payment schedule, estimated completion date, materials being used and their cost, warranties, and any specific promises. Never sign a blank contract or any contract without reading it thoroughly. Keep a copy of the contract after the job is completed in case there is an issue.
- Avoid contractors who sell door to door or claim to have extra material from their last job, ask for payments in cash or want the full payment upfront or pressure homeowners to sign a contract.
BBB of Acadiana serves the parishes of Acadia, Evangeline, Iberia, Lafayette, St. Martin, St. Landry and Vermilion.
Sharane Gott is the President/CEO of the BBB of Acadiana.