How to find out if a contractor is licensed

All states that license contractors and tradesmen keep lists of license holders. Click on the name of your state to see the phone number (and usually a Web address) for your state licensing board. A phone call or several mouse clicks will identify exactly who is licensed and who isn’t.

Except for plumbers and electricians, tradesmen paid by the hour usually don’t need a license. Contractors bidding on any significant work (more than a few hundred dollars) need a license in most states. If you have a problem with a licensed contractor or tradesman, the state licensing board can be a powerful ally in resolving issues. Get into a dispute with an unlicensed contractor or tradesman and you’re on your own.

All construction contractors need liability and workers’ compensation coverage. Request a certificate of insurance from the contractor you select. Insurance carriers provide certificates showing policy limits and coverage dates. There’s usually no charge for these certificates.