Try the Angie’s List online trade license tool

Try the Angie’s List online trade license tool

For years, I’ve advised consumers to check the license of any contractor before signing a contract or putting money down on a project. But every year, we still hear horror stories from consumers who hire service companies that turn out to be unlicensed.

Those stories underscore why it’s important to always do your homework, along with reading company reviews on Angie’s List and verifying insurance information.

Checking for a contractor license is important because it helps to ensure you’re working with an above-board company whose workers have the certifications needed to do a job right.

Some licenses also offer an extra layer of protection to the consumer that you don’t want to miss out on. Those protections can include tests that require professional competency, and verification of insurance and bonding.

However, it’s easy to see why some homeowners skip checking this essential detail: depending on where you live, verification can be confusing. There’s not a uniform trade licensing process across the states, and there are also differences in how communities within the same state deal with licensing.

New York, for example, primarily regulates home improvement contractor licenses at the local level (city and county), whereas its neighbors, Connecticut and New Jersey, primarily regulate licensing at the state level. Florida regulates at the state level, but various counties also have their own licensing requirements.

We started Angie’s List to help take the guesswork out of hiring contractors. That’s why we continue to ask that companies self-report their licensure status, why we display that information on Angie’s List company profiles and why our Trade Licensing team performs random audits to verify contractor’s claims are true.

We recently began making it easier for you to check a contractor’s license status by offering a tool we first developed for our Trade Licensing team. You can find it hereThis tool isn’t the end-all and be-all of the research you need to do, but it’s been very useful for us, so it makes sense to share it.

Go to the link, enter your state and the profession you need to hire. You’ll receive quick results that are tied into the appropriate licensing agency. Where available, it provides additional links to those agencies’ sites, allowing you to quickly verify the status of a license.

You may need to go further to see if there are additional regulations in your locality, but this will get you started and point you to the people who can answer your questions.

Hiring a properly licensed contractor does not automatically guarantee that your project will go off without a hitch. No one’s perfect. But knowing you’re hiring someone who follows the law is a good step toward a successful home improvement project.

Angie's List collects consumer reviews on local service providers ranging from home improvement to health care in more than 550 service categories.

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