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Building Inspector Warns Homeowner About Hiring Illegal Contractors

Posted by Mark Paskell on Sun, Jun 26, 2011 @ 12:43 PM

In our RRP Certified Renovator class last week a building inspector told us homeowners who get their own permit are taking risks when they hire illegal contractors, especially in his city. The building inspector told our class that many homeowners pull their own permits so that they can hire low ball priced contractors who cannot or will not pull the permit for one reason or another. 
Here is a list of reasons given; 
  1. To save money
  2. The contractor is not licensed.
  3. The contractor is uninsured, not carrying workmens compensation.
  4. The contractor is working for cash without a contract to avoid paying taxes.
  5. The contractor hires help and pays them under the table avoiding workmens compensation, unemployment insurance, social security and other employment taxes.
  6. The contractor owes taxes.
  7. The contractor is not certified to do the work for example the contractor tells the homeowner they are not RRP certified and money will be saved if no permit is pulled.
The inspector shared a story with us about a homeowner who recently pulled their own permit.
The homeowner, a lady (Ms. Smith, name changed for privacy) came in to pull a permit for a roof project on her home. The building inspector assisted her with the application. He asked Ms. Smith for the name, license number and insurance for the contractor she was using. She said she was not using a contractor. Ms. Smith said she was going to do the roof herself. The building inspector then proceeded to let her know about the risks inherent in doing roof work. The inspector explained to her if she pulled the permit and hired a contractor she would be responsible for code related items and more. The inspector wanted to believe her but he knew there was no way this lady was going to do her own roof. Ms. Smith insisted that she was going to do it herself.
Don't do it Ms. Smith....                      mass seal
The building inspector then went on to explain to her that if he rode by the house and saw someone other than her doing the roof he would take the proper action. The building inspector told Ms. Smith that if he saw a contractor on the roof the first thing he would do is call the Division of Industrial Accidents in Boston. He told her he needs to make sure any contractor working on her roof is licensed with the state and carries insurance. After he calls DIA would come out to the job to make sure that the workers are covered by workmens compensation insurance. The contractor may have other issues like, not paying taxes, no license, not paying his employees properly and more. This could generate a referral from DIA enforcement officers to the Department of Revenue and maybe the Attorney General's office. Ms. Smith thanked him for his advice but swore she would be the one doing the roof.
Guess what happened next?
Ms. Smith ended up hiring an illegal contractor, no insurance, no call to the building inspector that she changed her mind. The building inspector rode by and it sure did not look like ladies on the roof. The building inspector then had to do what he had promised and called DIA.
DIA went to the job and took care or the rest. Another illegal contractor busted for circumventing the rules that legally operating contractors have to follow.
The building inspector told us everytime homeowners pull their own permit and there is a problem with the contractor, the homeowner airs the complaints to the inspector.
He said homeowners who hire unlicensed Mass contractors lose the right to tap into the state guaranty fund. Homeowners need to make sure that they understand the chances they are taking pulling their own permit and working with illegally operating contractors.
Was the contractor OSHA compliant?         osha
Another factor that homeowners need to be concerned with is the contractor they hire compliant with OSHA. Jobs can be can be delayed if they are deemed unsafe to workers on the project. Roofing, Siding, Gutters and Painting projects involve staging which is a focal point for OSHA inspectors right now. Recently there are reports of heavy OSHA job site inspectors hitting jobs in Mass, New York and Conn. OSHA just announced the new fall protection directive requiring contractors be compliant on or before 9/15/2011.
mark the coach
"one voice for the residential construction industry"  

Tags: building inspectors