MD Labor Secretary Urges Homeowners to Hire Licensed Contractors for Spring Home Improvements


Baltimore, MD (March 20, 2013) - Leonard J. Howie III, Secretary of the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation (DLLR) urges homeowners to use caution when hiring a contractor for spring home improvements.

"Maryland laws protect consumers by requiring home improvement contractors to hold a current license issued by the Maryland Home Improvement Commission. That license means they have met the State's standards for obtaining and maintaining a license for this work," said Maryland Labor Secretary Leonard Howie. Unfortunately, unlicensed contractors see the spring as a great time to take advantage of unsuspecting homeowners."

Only homeowners who hire licensed home improvement contractors are protected by the State's Home Improvement Guaranty Fund. This fund is administered by DLLR's Home Improvement Commission to compensate homeowners who suffer economic damages at the hands of a licensed home improvement contractor. No coverage is provided to the homeowner if the contractor is not properly licensed.

"Too often, we see that homeowners who hire the cheapest contractor end up paying the most money when they fall victim to an unlicensed contractor," said Howie. In addition to obtaining estimates from several contractors, homeowners are advised to ask contractors to provide references.

It is unlawful for any home improvement contractor to work in Maryland without a license. Penalties include fines or imprisonment. Consumers may contact DLLR's Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing at 410-230-6309 or visit the Commission's website to check on the licensing status and complaint history of any contractor.

Other tips to ensure you are hiring the contractor who is right for you:

  • Ask the contractor for the names and addresses of several recent customers who would be willing to discuss their home improvement job. Don't hire anyone without talking to a reference.
  • Ask the contractor for a copy of a current general liability insurance certificate.
  • If the contractor's employees will be working at your home, ask the contractor for a copy of a current worker's compensation insurance certificate. If the contractor hires subcontractors, ask for a copy of each subcontractor's license.
  • Never pay any money until you have a written home improvement contract. Check to see whether the contract contains an arbitration clause and whether it complies with the Home Improvement Commission's requirements for contracts.
  • If the deal is too good to be true, it probably is, so keep researching until you find the contractor who is right for your home improvement job.

The Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation protects and empowers Marylanders by safeguarding workers, protecting consumers, providing a safety net and cultivating a thriving workforce that can meet the demands of Maryland’s dynamic economy. Follow DLLR on Twitter (@MD_DLLR) and Facebook.