A Rite of Spring Time

Unlicensed Builders Pulling Scams on Michigan Consumers

There are a few things you can count on when spring arrives. Daylight savings time, warmer temperatures, rain and unlicensed builders that prey on unsuspecting consumers with building scams and rip-offs.

“Unlicensed scam artists will try to con you in several different ways,” said MAHB CEO Robert Filka. “They will tell you it’s cheaper to do the job if the consumer pulls the building permit or that no permit is needed. They do this because without a builders license, they can’t pull a building permit. If no permit is pulled, there will be no inspections done to assure the quality of work or that it meets the requirements of the Michigan Residential Code (MRC).”

Under Michigan law, all contractors offering to do work which totals $600 or more in labor and materials must be licensed by the Department of Energy, Labor & Economic Growth (DELEG). A Residential Builders license allows a contractor to build a complete structure and do maintenance or alteration (remodeling) work. A Maintenance & Alteration license indicates that the holder has met requirements for one or more of 14 different trades. The trades in which a contractor is qualified to practice are listed on the license.

“Consumers should also be wary of builders who offer a “special low price” or claim they have materials left over from another job they can use on their project,” said Filka. “Legitimate builders and remodelers do not over buy materials for a job. Consumers are also warned to be cautious about any builder who asks to be paid in cash or requires total payment up front.”

Hiring unlicensed builders also exposes the consumer to potential liability issues that could be very costly. Consumers that contract with an unlicensed contractor can be held liable for on-the-job injuries sustained by that unlicensed person and their employees. This exposes the consumer to liability, including having to pay medical bills and lost wages. Licensed contractors must carry workers compensation insurance to cover injuries to their employees. Unlicensed builders do not.

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