A: The cost of buying and owning a home is probably the biggest investment made by most people in their lifetime. Property owners therefore often look for the lowest price when looking to build or remodel a home. Since most unlicensed contractors are not bonded or insured and do not pay any unemployment compensation for their workers, liability insurance and they can often under bid the licensed professional. This bottom line may at first be attractive to the property owner, as a way to lower costs and save money. Most of the time, it is not. In an attempt to get “the best price”, the unsuspecting customer calls the number listed on the flyer or in the ad and asked for a bid. Often, such operations are run out of a mail drop or on an answering machine, but someone usually calls the customer back. When you get the bid, you are really pleased at how much this person/company says they can save you. You may even see “licensed, bonded and insured” on the business card or in the ad. Then the story begins. The contractor tells you he/she is going to need a large portion of the money up front. He/she may say they need it to purchase materials, or to pay workers for another job where the property owner is slow to pay. They may even tell you a sad story about their personal lives in hopes of gaining your sympathy. At first things may seem fine. In a day or two a worker shows up and starts measuring, or a small load of material is delivered to the job site. Then the excuses begin. After a week has passed, with no work being done, you call your unlicensed contractor. All you get is a recorded message, so you leave a message, politely requesting a return phone call. Several more days pass, with no response, so you call and leave another message, not as polite as the first. When the contractor does call, they are very apologetic and tells you about some catastrophe involving either their truck, his family, his help or another job he just had to complete. they promise to get right on your job the next day. A week later he still hasn’t shown up, or he does show up and says he needs more money. Sound ridiculous? Well it happens every day, often with the consumer losing hundreds or even thousands of dollars. You, as the property owner have little recourse other than to pursue the matter in court. Hiring a licensed contractor offers many additional protections to the property owner, especially regarding residential property. First of all, a contractor can not obtain a license without possessing a minimum amount of experience and must pass a business management test. The applicant also may be subjected to criminal history background check, and must not have any unresolved contracting complaints outstanding.