A home improvement project is a big deal for any homeowner. Once you saved up the proper budget and done your preliminary research on materials, colors, and timelines — the time has come to find a reliable contractor. Most importantly, you want a contractor who is licensed and insured in your state for the job requirements. So how do you check a contractor’s license?
Here are 6 different ways to check a contractor’s license in your state:
Use your state’s online directory
Your state or contractor governing body should offer an online database where licensure can be searched via name, business, or other means. For example, in Massachusetts (where Boston Renovation is based) a contractor’s license can be searched on Mass.gov.
You may also be able to view things such as how long the contractor has been licensed in the state, whether they have any complaints filed against them, or whether they have a bond and insurance.
If your state does not have a website with this information, look up the number for the department on your state’s website and call the office.
The information is always free and open to the public and you can typically get an answer that same day.
Another state leading in contractor/homeowner relations is California, where a California contractor’s license can be searched on CA Contractors State License Board.
Find the licensing agency in your state through the the National Association of State Contractors Licensing Agencies.
Review their Better Business Bureau page
Better Business Bureau is an impartial website where consumers can leave complaints or praise for many services businesses, with most contractors having a page there. As part of the contractor’s “Profile” there are areas where license #s can be entered in. Does the contractor have a license number on hand with BBB? Verify before moving forward.
Ask the contractor for proof
If you got it, flaunt it. Ask the contractor to give you his license number for verification, or send you an image of the paperwork. If the contractor is being cagey or pushes back on your request, you should consider that a red flag.
Work with an industry expert
Contacting a team like Boston Renovation can help take the guesswork out of finding a licensed contractor. We fully vet all of the contractors we would suggest to you, and help you get 3+ competitive quotes in 3 days. There’s a lot to be wary of in the home improvement space, and we’re here to make you feel at ease.
Read online reviews
For further investigation into the aptitude of the contractor, read what others are saying on Google, Yelp, Facebook, BBB (see above) and other vertical sites. Are reviews mostly positive or mostly negative? Are there any reviews at all? The absence of reviews can be a troubling sign as much as pervasive negative reviews.
Some popular websites to check reviews and verify profile information:
Check the contractor’s website
Lastly, a contractor should have this type of information somewhere on their website. Those who understand the marketplace will have the license numbers front and center (most likely in the footer of the website).
Before signing any contract, check with your local contractor licensing board. It should tell you whether the contractor’s license is valid, whether a bond is in place, and whether there have been any claims filed against the contractor that you should know about.
Frequently Asked Questions:
What Is a Contractor License Board?
The contractor licensing board is a state-run organization that approves and tracks contractors, builders, and sub-contractors. It also issues licenses to contractors in the area, typically upon passing certain state requirements. This board also has the ability to revoke licenses.
What Does It Mean That a Contractor Is Bonded?
Most states require that contractors secure a bond in their name in order to obtain a license. A bond is a large sum of money, held in a non-interest bearing account in case the contractor should make a mistake that warrants a large amount of liability. Most bonds are obtained through insurance companies and the contractor makes a regular payment to maintain their bond.
Know the common industry terms
Licensed: Contractors have been granted a trade license as mandated by state and local laws. It generally requires passing competency tests about business practices and trade skills, paying a fee and proving insurance and/or bonding.
Registered: Typically less stringent than licensing, it often requires contractors to prove insurance and pay a fee. Sometimes it requires bonding, but rarely tests competency. A few places use licensing and registration interchangeably.
Bonded: Contractors have an arrangement with a third party (a private bond issuer or a recovery fund held by the licensing municipality). Homeowners may petition for reimbursement through that third party if contractors harm them financially because of shoddy work or failure to pay subcontractors as promised.
Insured: All contractors you hire should be insured. Ask to see a Certificate of Insurance, then call to verify the policy is current and carries enough coverage for your project.
Engineered Wood Benefits
Talking with homeowners is one of the most rewarding parts of my week and I know our customers appreciate our honest help and advice. There is really only one topic where it seems our advice is not only at times disputed but, seemingly, unwelcome: engineered hardwood flooring.
I’ve had more than one homeowner get audibly frustrated with me at my insistence that engineered hardwood flooring might be the most appropriate solution for their specific project.
Why is this? What misconceptions do these homeowners have that prevents them from taking my advice? Why do they insist that they want the “real stuff?”
Let’s take a step back and understand what engineered flooring is and what it is not.
Engineered hardwood flooring is 100% wood. It is not laminate flooring and it is not “cheap.” The surface layer is the exact same material that a solid floor is made of. In fact, many manufacturers make the same style of floor in both solid and engineered versions and it is 100% impossible to tell them apart.
Engineered hardwood can be used in more environments. Under the surface layer of solid wood, there are multiple levels of manufactured wood product (think plywood). These layers are assembled in a crossing pattern meaning that they expand and contract in 90 degree angles. As a result of this process, engineered floors are impacted much less by changes in humidity and temperature and, therefore, can be used in environments where solid hardwood would be prone to warping or damage.
Engineered flooring can be installed over any surface. While solid hardwood can only be installed by nailing it down to wood subfloor, engineered hardwood isn’t subject to any such restrictions. If your home or condo has cement floors (basements) there is simply no way to use solid flooring.
Engineered flooring can be less expensive and more environmentally friendly. Engineered hardwood uses much less of the solid wood species from which it is made. Therefore, for more expensive and rarer wood species like walnut and tigerwood, engineered flooring can both be less expensive and more environmentally friendly. It can also be manufactured in much wider board widths.
So where do all the passionate feelings that engineered hardwood is an inferior product come from?
Honestly, I don’t know. I think people confuse it with laminated hardwood which, rather than using the solid wood top layer as engineered hardwood does, uses a printed image made to look like wood. That stuff is an inferior product and does not look the same as solid hardwood. Maybe it’s the name? It is plausible that when people hear “engineered” then they incorrectly think it’s not real wood.
Engineered vs. Solid Wood
But, c’mon, there must be something about engineered flooring that is not as good as solid. Right? Well, here is what I can come up with:
Solid hardwood can be sanded and refinished multiple times. Engineered can certainly be refinished but perhaps only 2 to 4 times depending on the thickness of the wear layer. Considering a floor only needs to be refinished when it is worn or damaged (may be every 15 or 20 years), I’m not sure how much to hold that against engineered flooring. Plus, most engineered flooring comes prefinished and, usually, with a 30+ year wear guarantee.
“Swirly” grain pattern when the top layer is shaved, not sawn. On some lower-end engineered hardwood flooring products, the top wear layer of wood is not cut from the tree in the same way as solid hardwood. It is “shaved” rather than “sawn” resulting in grain patterns that can be a little “swirly” compared to the traditional look. It isn’t that the product itself is inferior, it just has a look people sometimes don’t like. Again, this is typically on the lower-end, less expensive options.
This post may not change everyone's mind but if it reaches just one person and helps make our conversation with them more productive and helpful then it was definitely worth it! :)
Homeowners love the Andersen 400 Series Frenchwood Sliding Patio Door. The elegant finishes add class to any living room or kitchen. Andersen 400 series patio doors are well-constructed units and the top of the sliding patio doors market.
The Andersen 400 series Frenchwood sliding patio door is the best selling sliding patio door from the largest manufacturer in the USA. The Frenchwood sliding patio door is durable, Energy Star Compliant and offers a wide range of features. If you are looking for a classic style wood patio door, the 400 Series is a great choice.
The items we'll cover in this review are:
About Andersen Doors
For more than a century, Andersen has been the most trusted brand for windows and doors. They offer an extensive collection of high-quality products. Andersen is committed to integrity, excellence, and innovation. Whatever project you are working on, Andersen will have the products you need in a variety of sizes, wood options, colors, and accessories.
Andersen offers an impressive warranty - the glass is protected for 20 years, and parts are protected for 10 years.
Pros and Cons
Andersen sliding doors offer durability, longevity, and quality craftsmanship. With an emphasis on excellence, these doors are a no-brainer to add value to your home.
Sliding doors are often the largest window in the house, and the last to be replaced. The Harvey Classic vinyl patio door can be ordered with different configurations and with either two, three, or four panels. It has many standard sizes (see below) and custom sizes to fit virtually any opening. Every Harvey vinyl patio door is custom made, delivers excellent performance and offers a variety of styles, colors, and options to meet your needs.
Harvey Building Products - based in Waltham, MA - has been manufacturing high-quality wood and vinyl windows, doors, and porches. Harvey has been manufacturing doors and windows since 1961, and their impeccable craftsmanship has only improved since. Best known for their vinyl doors and windows, Harvey offers an extremely competitive price in the market. If you are in the market for new patio doors, check out our review of their most popular sliding patio door: the Classic vinyl.
Pros & Cons
Harvey offers an impressive warranty - 20 years on the glass, and 10 years for parts.
If you are looking for a durable, classic sliding door, the Harvey Classic Vinyl is perfect. It’s a great value and will add a lot of character to your home - without a hefty price tag!
You’ve saved up your hard earned money. You’ve got a general idea of what you’re looking for. And now you just need a ballpark price. So here are the big questions - how much will a new addition cost? What is the average cost of a new addition in my area?
House Addition Costs
The average national cost of adding a room or building an addition is $43,547, with most homeowners spending between $20,900 and $66,942. This data is based on actual project costs as reported by HomeAdvisor.com members.
So obviously that is a big range, and whether you fall closer to $20,000 or $70,000 depends on a few factors. Let’s dig in shall we?
It’s an investment in your current home and an upgrade to your lifestyle. If done properly, it can make your current house feel like your dream house - and that’s the goal.
Consider what type of addition you want
When you’re planning your budget for this project, you need to consider many different factors, including the square footage and the size of the addition. The larger you go, the more expensive the project will be. Other important factors include necessary services, including:
According to HomeAdvisor, adding on to your home is among the priciest projects that you can undertake as a homeowner. Experts suggest that you can expect to see a return on your investment of:
Local Zoning Laws
Always check with your local government to research zoning restrictions. In some areas, you may not be able to build within a certain number of feet of the front, sides or rear of the property lines. Other areas have rules about how much space on your property can be covered with buildings, how close you can get to protected spaces such as wetlands or how high you can build up.
Ready for a new addition? Don't renovate alone. Contact us today to speak with a Boston Renovation project expert and we'll get you multiple quotes for your project, no matter how large or complicated! There's too much at stake to make a mistake.