DIY : It isn’t worth the risk, hire a licensed professional

Every once in awhile when I am providing a quote to a homeowner for a home security system, I come across a competitor who is not licensed or insured. There are a lot of dangers in hiring someone who is unlicensed, that’s what I want to talk to you about today. It’s essential to hire a licensed and insured contractor for any work you have done in your home, and how you figure that out if they’re licensed.

It’s all about safety

Aside from a lack of rigorous training, unlicensed contractors often lack proper general liability, workers compensation, vehicle insurance and the sufficient contracts to protect you the homeowner if something goes wrong. Without proper licensing, there is no way for the State to ensure a business has everything in place to protect a homeowner. If something were to happen while an unlicensed person was working in your home, you could be liable for their actions, especially if they got hurt while in your home. Imagine this; an unlicensed contractor is on a ladder outside your home, falls and breaks their back. If they are not insured, and there isn’t appropriate workers compensation to cover the accident your homeowner’s insurance policy may be liable for the accident. A few years ago I hired someone to clean out my gutters; they were too high for me to feel safe. Halfway through the job he fell off the ladder! Fortunately, my wife was close by to call the business owner so they could come out and assist the employee who had fallen. Thankfully I had checked to make sure this company was both licensed and insured in advance. Even something as simple as window washing and gutter cleaning can lead to disaster. Don’t risk your financial future to save a few dollars by hiring someone who is not licensed.

CT Department of Consumer Protection

Did you know the Department of Consumer Protection maintains a Guaranty Fund? This fund may be used to help satisfy an unpaid judgment to a homeowner for up to $15,000 if he or she hired a licensed contractor. If you do not contract with a licensed professional to work on your home, you are not eligible to receive money from this fund. There’s a great fact sheet about the fund on their website.

Any contractor who is providing any of the following services needs a license. Electrical, Fire Alarm, Burglar Alarm, Glass Work, Heating, Piping and Cooling, Home Inspection, Irrigation, Plumbing, Sheet Metal Work, Solar Energy, Spa and Pool Work, TV, Radio and Electronics and even Real Estate Agents. You can find a full list of licenses at the CT Department of Consumer Protection website. For more information about looking your licensed contractor, you can do by going to the eLicense webpage.

Training, Lot’s of Training!

To better understand why it’s important to hire someone with a license let’s take a look at what’s required to obtain one. Having a license isn’t as simple as filling out a form and paying a fee, it’s a lot more than that. Let’s look at the licenses we use in the security industry. Alarm contractors most often have L and C licenses broken down into two categories, Journeyman License (L-6 and C-6) and Low Voltage Electrical Contractor (L-5 and C-5).

Here’s how it all works, an apprentice must work under the direct supervision of a Journeyman, and a Journeyman must be employed by a Contractor while performing the work. A Journeyman does not have to be directly supervised by a Contractor, but they must be employed by a Contractor while performing the work. This concept of apprentice and journeyman working for a contractor is standard across almost all fields.

For a person to qualify for a Journeyman’s license, the candidate must have a minimum of 4,000 hours of apprenticeship on the job training and complete 288 hours of classroom instruction. After the apprenticeship and classroom course work is completed he or she may apply to take the exam to obtain a license. In order to pass the exam they have 90 minutest to obtain a 70% or higher on a 55 question exam covering topics ranging from National Electric Code, National Fire Protection Association, Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The Exam also includes questions on the following topics: Fire Systems, Security Systems, Audio and Sound, Video Systems, National Electric Code, Access Controls, General Electronic Knowledge, and Safety quetions. Licenses in other fields have similar exams covering topics directly related to their occupation.

I have personally gone through the apprenticeship program twice, once as a high school student and again after graduating from college. There’s so much to learn, even after nearly 15 years working in the security industry I am still learning. Electrical codes are always changing; once you obtain a license, you must complete Continuing Education every year to maintain your license.

Look up your contractor

Here’s a list of some of our licenses, feel free to look them up and see if they’re still “Active”!

CT State Lic. No. ELC.0105944-L5, ELC.0201093-L5, ELC.0190477-L6

MA State Lic. Nos. 367C, 1180D

NY State Lic. №12000041727

NJ State Lic. №34BF00020700

VA State Lic. No.s 2705154362, DCSJ 11–9101

RI State Lic. №9914

Pro Tip

Here’s a pro tip for looking up licenses, you can search the license number, the contractors first and last name who is working on the job or the name of the company. Sometimes if you search the name of the company the license won’t show up, so don’t write someone off if they don’t show up right away. Be sure to do some due diligence, requesting a copy of their insurance certificate is a great place to start. They should be more than happy to provide it to you. At Command Corporation we carry a $3,000,000 liability and E&O insurance policy. Since 1991 we have never had an insurance claim, this is something we are incredibly thankful for. We feel strongly this is due to us hiring licensed and qualified technicians.

If you have a complaint about a contractor, you hired you can send in this form to the State of Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection.

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