Contractor licensing: Homeowners care, but don't understand it

Contractor licensing: Homeowners care, but don't understand it
contractor replacing windows

contractor replacing windows

A poll of 1,300 Angie's List members last spring yielded a scary paradox. Nearly 90 percent said it’s crucial (56 percent) or somewhat important (32 percent) to hire a licensed home-improvement contractor.

At the same time, 75 percent said they're not familiar with state and local licensing laws. And the majority don’t understand how licensing can protect a homeowner or how to take the time to verify that a contractor’s trade license is in good standing. Those who do often rely on the contractor’s word as proof.

This information suggested we were on to an important story. Next came research and literally hundreds of interviews as we sought to distill the significance of licensing.

The facts and opinions presented in the stories here come from homeowner experiences as well as those of contractors, industry observers and officials attempting to regulate and enforce the laws.

What we learned not only has implications for consumers but also for Angie’s List. Be sure to read Angie’s column as she explains how the company is taking a harder line on licensing.

— Sue Wiltz, editorial director, Angie's List Publications


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Angie’s List takes a harder line on licensing

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It is important to hire someone with a trade license, because it provides consumer protection benefits. (Photo courtesy of Mark Love)
It is important to hire someone with a trade license, because it provides consumer protection benefits. (Photo courtesy of Mark Love)

A trade license typically means contractors have passed competency tests and provided proof of insurance or bonding, and often both. Even mandated registration, which is typically less stringent than licensing, usually offers at least one or more of these consumer protections.

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