On 12/9/07 the Telegram and Gazette reported that the Federal US Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency arrested 15 illegal aliens in Milford, MA. The illegal aliens worked for a company called Same Day Roofing and Construction. The article goes on to say that the owner of the roofing company bought a house and illegally jammed them into the property where there were numerous life safety issues. The house was a fire trap with individual rooms set up with makeshift kitchens. The building Commissioner claims that the house was used as an illegal boarding house.
So what does this have to do with hiring a contractor?
Well just imagine that you hired this company and work was completed a few months ago. Then we have a rain storm and the roof leaks - destroying your ceilings. You call the company you hired only to learn that the feds just shut them down because they used illegal alien labor. Now they are out of business and you are up the creek without a paddle. Or worse you hire a company like this and a roofer gets hurt and the contractor has no worker’s compensation insurance and you get sued!
I have worked for legitimate “follow the rules” contractors my entire career and I have run into unethical contractors often. I run into to them when I am quoting residential projects to homeowners. They are usually half the price of the legitimate contractor. The companies I have worked for have always hired legal workers and provided the proper insurance and tools to do a professional job. In addition, the workers are always paid above the table, not under.
When homeowners hire companies who don’t play by the rules they usually get burnt when something goes wrong on the job. Unfortunately, there are too many contractor crooks who elect to hire illegal aliens. These contractors prey on these aliens and take advantage of them. They usually pay them under the table, don’t provide insurance, don’t pay taxes, do sub standard work, have unsafe equipment and aren’t there to service their work when something goes wrong. And of course, the homeowner blames the industry for allowing this to happen. According to the government, home improvement contractors are the most complained about industry in the entire country. Worse than used car salesman.
One of the biggest reason why homeowners hire these illegitamate contractors is low price. A famous British author named Ruskin once said “you get what you pay for”.
As far as immigration is concerned, I am all for it provided legal channels are followed. Everyone has the right to apply to come here legally. We are all descendants of legal immigrants in one way or another. America is a great melting pot.
As far as illegal immigration is concerned, I’ll leave that to the politicians. However this is a huge problem in the trades. Contractors who hire illegal aliens should be shut down. Legitimate law abiding contractors have to play by the rules. And playing by the rules costs money. When homeowners allow illegitimate contractors to do home improvements, they are supporting the black market construction industry just to save a buck!
So when you consider hiring a contractor ask him if he uses legal labor to perform his work. If he has legal immigrants ask him to verify that they are really legal. If he has a problem with verification then he is probably hiding something. And that may only be the tip of the iceberg!
Do you really want to take a chance with your most valuable investments - your family and your home - by allowing people who you don’t know to work on your property?