• Sat. May 14th, 2022


Question: I have a question regarding your article on Licensed Contractors (“Licensed Contractor Often Required”, January 22). Do any of the rules you mention apply to DIY jobs? With the help of a carpenter friend who is not a contractor, I did more than one job on my house that was over the $ 500 limit.

Also, a few years ago I hired a contractor to level my manufactured home. The only change is that he is now out of level in different places. How long do I have to file a complaint? Unfortunately I paid in full and the contractor says any additional work will require more money.


A: Contractor licensing laws do not apply to homeowners doing work for themselves, even if they have professional help.

We imagine your situation to look like this:

You want to build a terrace. You need help. Your carpenter friend offers to help him. The concrete and deck materials cost $ 1,500. Not wanting to take advantage of your friend, you offer to pay him the bargain rate of $ 20 an hour for his work and expertise.

You buy the equipment and head to town hall and get the $ 40 permit as an owner-builder. It takes you three days to lay the foundation and build the deck, steps and handrails. You pay your friend $ 480. The total cost of the job is $ 2,020, which is $ 1,520 more than the contractor’s license law limitation.

But guess what? You are in the law, because this project is not a contract. You, as the owner-builder, have complete control of the project, providing the labor (yourself), the permit and all the materials. At best, your carpenter friend is an employee, not a contractor. He agreed to work for an hourly wage for an indefinite total compensation and not to provide a product or service for a fixed finite sum, no matter what the cost to him.

To be an entrepreneur, a person must maintain control of the work. A contractor agrees to supply a finished product in accordance with certain specifications for an agreed price.

So, at the end of the day, you are free to work on your own projects, with or without paid work. Since you are the owner and not a contractor, the limitations of the contractor license law do not apply.

That being said, there are several things to consider. First, get the necessary permits for any job that requires one. A proper permit will take the hassle out of the sale, avoid problems with home insurance in the event of a claim, and provide a second pair of eyes in the form of the home inspector who can and will report faults. This will save money and aggravation in the long run. Also, be sure to contact your landlord’s insurance agent to make sure your friend is covered if they drop a power saw on their knees, or anything else crazy.

As for your unbalanced mobile home, do two things. Contact the original contractor and see if they will do it correctly. If it does not, a complaint with the Contracting State License Board and the Better Business Bureau is in order. A brief consultation with a lawyer is not a bad idea either. The goal is to determine if your claim is still within the applicable statute of limitations. Be careful, however; construction guarantees are generally one year.


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