Department of Public Protection
State Offers Tips on Home Improvements
With summer home-improvement projects now under way, the state Office of Housing, Buildings and Construction (OHBC) urges Kentuckians to be wary when hiring contractors.
Anyone performing any plumbing, electric or heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) services must be licensed by the state.
“Each certification requires documentation showing how long the license holder has spent in the trade and confirming that the contractor has passed the state examination,” said Van Cook, executive director of OHBC.
For installation or repairs requiring plumbers, electricians or HVAC technicians, “always be sure to research the company or individual you plan to hire,” said Cook.
Matt Koropchak, a Louisville businessman, learned this lesson the hard way. “It was a nightmare,” Koropchak said, in reference to a poor bathroom remodeling job that he had hired a contractor to complete.
“Not only was he unlicensed, but the plumbing and electric work he had done was out of code and endangered the structural integrity of my home,” Koropchak said. He was forced to hire another contractor to finish the job, adding expense and time to the project.
Always ask to see a contractor’s license, Cook said.
Once you have established that the contractor is licensed, the OHBC strongly recommends preparing a contract outlining the work to be done. It should spell out what preparations are needed for the job, when work will begin, how long it will take, the type and quality of materials being used and how much will it cost.
“A written contract ensures everyone knows what to expect from the job,” Cook said. “When there is no written agreement, the possibility of a lawsuit significantly increases.”
Here are other tips for home renovations:
- Ask to see a license card, which shows the expiration date.
- Make sure the contractor and any subcontractors have workers’ compensation coverage. This would pay for medical and rehabilitation expenses and lost wages if a worker gets injured on the job. If the contractor does not have proper insurance, the injured worker might sue the homeowner. Also be sure the contractor has general liability coverage.
- Refuse an offer by contractors to have an unlicensed technician “file for the permit.” It’s against the law.
- Check the state Web site -- www.ohbc.ky.gov -- to verify licensed technicians.
- Be sure that the electrician, plumber or HVAC license holder has an office contact number should you need to visit them. All estimates and contracts should have a company name, address, telephone number and license number. Be wary of someone who only provides a telephone number.
- Shop around and get more than one estimate, and ask friends and neighbors for references.
For questions and concerns regarding the licensing of electricians, contact Richard Peddicord at 502- 573-0369 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. For questions regarding heating, ventilation and air conditioning, contact Nelson Henderson at 502-573-0395 or e-mail email@example.com. For questions or concerns regarding plumbing, phone Tim House at 502-573-1058 or by e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Office of Housing, Buildings and Construction is part of the Department of Public Protection in the Environmental and Public Protection Cabinet.