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LARA Offers Tips to Protect Consumers for Spring Home Improvement Projects
May 5, 2011 - Spring means the return of the robin to Michigan, but it also means many residents' thoughts turn to building or sprucing up their own nests. The Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs reminds consumers of important tips that will help them avoid common - and often costly - mistakes while building or renovating a home.
Verify a Builder/Contractor License
"Always check to make sure the people working on your home are properly licensed. Ask to see a copy of their license, then take a few minutes to look up the license online or give us a call," said LARA Director Steven H. Hilfinger. "Those few minutes spent at the beginning of the project may prevent big problems later."
Residential Builders and Maintenance and Alteration Contractors: An online license search is available at http://www.michigan.gov/licenselookup or by calling LARA's Bureau of Commercial Services Licensing Division at (517) 373-8376.
Contractors: Electricians, plumbers and mechanical contractors are licensed by LARA's Bureau of Construction Codes and must have a license that corresponds to the work to be done. Mechanical contractors must also have the proper license classification. To verify license information visit www.michigan.gov/bcclicense or call (517) 241-9313.
Online Referral and Advertising Sites
An Internet search for builders or contractors will yield service provider referral sites and advertising sites such as Craigslist. Many of the ads will state that the individual is licensed. Regardless of the source of the referral, consumers should exercise caution and confirm that the builder or contractor is properly licensed.
Don't Pay in Advance
Consumers should never give a contractor a large sum of money prior to work being done.
"It's never a good practice to pay the full contract price at the start of a job or before the job is complete," Hilfinger said. "If it's a large job and an upfront payment is agreed upon, it should be a reasonable percentage of the total contract price. Homeowners are inviting trouble if they pay the full contract price amount at the start of a job or prior to completion."
Don't Forget Your Permit!
Before starting a project, check with your local or state building department to determine if your project requires a permit. A permit provides the legal permission to start construction of a building project in accordance with approved drawings and specifications.
Permits are usually required for:
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