Surprisingly enough this doesn't seem to have been asked. Or at least it
was inundated with all the other garbage that Google returns (Google is fast
becoming worthless as a search engine).
If I hire a repairman, would it be rude for me to ask to see his license and
bonding documents if I am in doubt. Especially for something involving a
roof or electrical? My neighbor is the king of hiring fly by night repair
guys who wheel and deal with him, I seriously doubt any of them are bonded,
but if I hired the same guy, I wouldn't know if he was dishonest or not. I
don't hang out with plumbers and electricians or roofer so I have to take
them at face value. So if I hire some guy would he get all pissy and
irritated if I asked him for his info?
The license is public record in all of hte places I am familiar with
and most places require the number be readily and publicly available. If
you ask and some contractor gets all pissy, that would be reason enough
to go running as fast as possible in the OPPOSITE direction.
This conversation has devolved into a complex thing. Lots of work can and
is done safely by people hiring unlicensed uninsured people all the time.
It's just when something goes haywire that we hear about it. It's all up to
you. You're the one at risk.
You might be scaring off good tradesmen by insisting on documentation. Yet
not asking is courting disaster. It's a Catch-22 situation.
In Washington State, there's often no need to ask. The state has a web
site that verifies current license, bond, liability insurance, and
worker's comp status, as well as the status of any past bond claims.
You can even sign up for worker's comp monitoring, the state will email
you the day their worker's comp goes out of force and you can keep them
off the site until things are current again.
firstname.lastname@example.org is Joshua Putnam
In my state, contracting without a license is a felony. Evening offering to
do the work, where no money changes hands, or work is done, is considered to
be contracting. They actively seek out these guys, having a list of them on
the six o'clock news just like the murderers. And yet, there's never a
shortage of them.
These things are public record. Often the issuer of licenses also requires
insurances, bonds etc. and demands these things be kept up to date to
maintain a valid license. Where I work, all this info is posted at a county
website. Check with your local municipality
They could be licensed and bonded but you still wouldn't KNOW they are
Ask him and see.
I'd want to not only see the papers but to make a photocopy. Although
not if you can find it online. Then I'd just rpint it out.
If the records are not online where you are, I wouldn't go to the
trouble of going to find them. He should show them to you, including
a form that shows they were renewed less than a year earlier. (or
whatever time period it says on the form.)
When I deal with repairmen and contractors for things around our house, I
always ask to see their current insurance and licenses. I also take notes
when I'm talking to them, then write up what they say in a contract and make
them sign it before doing the work.
99% of the time they don't want to sign it. When I remind them that there
isn't anything in the contract that they didn't say themselves when we were
talking they usually want to either add time or money to what they initially
promised verbally. Usually adding the time or money isn't a big deal to me.
I just want the TRUTH about how much time and money will REALLY be involved.
Plus having the written contract keeps me at a higher priority on their list
than people who don't have anything in writing, and also calls out EXACTLY
when they will get their money. That eliminates them from constantly
hounding us for more money.
My wife doesn't do this with the people that she hires to do stuff, and her
projects usually have big problems. She hired a landscaper last year. The
guy got 30% of the money down, then kept asking her for more money every
week (which she usually gave him). The guy is driving a Hummer and lives in
a better house than we do, but told her that he couldn't pay his bills
unless she gave him more money. As you can expect, the work has never been
completed, but with nothing in writing to worry about and all of his money
in hand, he's never going to come and finish the job. My wife is too ashamed
and embarrassed to do anything about it, but if and when I run into the
Bottom line is that business is business. There's no room for emotions or
fear of "insulting" someone by asking them for things that are required by
Not at all rude. Those who do things by the book despise those who do the
same work without the licenses and permits, then undercut them in price.
(And do shoddy work giving everyone in the trade a bad image.)
However documents can be faked. I would ask for their contractor number and
the bonding company name/phone number. Then check with the state and the
In my area the contractor number is on their vehicles, advertisements, and
business cards. Some fly-by-night types have been known to use another
Why is that rude? Business is business, leave the emotion out of all
your dealings with any contractor, be up front and open, give them a
lot of info about what you want done and the results you expect, they
cant read minds and will appreciate the clarity. Worrying about
feelings will just cause mis-communication somewhere along the line,
avoid that by frankness and bluntness. If they get pissy, then hire a
true professional, the time to know about insurance liability is
before they get on your roof.
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