Even a properly licensed home improvement contractor may not be experienced , skilled or qualified !
As a licensed home improvement contractor, I understand the required credentials in becoming one. Once you understand these credentials , I urge you to use all necessary precautions and research on who you’ll hire. This decision will affect the outcome , ranging from your satisfaction to unnecessary stress and expense.
Home improvement contractors are extremely high in the ranking of customer complaints and that’s mainly because of “The Present Flawed System “ of becoming a self-employed Home Improvement contractor.
First a little background ……
Home Improvement Contractors are technically Registered and not Licensed by the State of Connecticut. Home improvement contractors consist of a variety of different professionals such as carpentry, painting, landscaping, installing insulation, paving driveways, erecting fences, installing swimming pools, waterproofing ,siding, roofing, etc.
In contrast ,electricians, plumbers & heating & cooling contractors are Licensed by the State of Connecticut.
Illustrated below are the different credentials and journey in becoming Licensed vs. Registered
The Credentials / Journey to become a self-employed Electrician, Plumber, Heating & Cooling Contractor (Licensed)
- Stage 1 Start as an apprentice, need a total of 8,000 supervised / documented hours of on job training plus either 720 documented hours of Night School Class or go to at least 2 years of Technical High School and pass.
- Stage 2 Once obtained, take a 6-hour written exam conducted by the State of Connecticut.
- Stage 3 If you pass exam, you earn an E-2 license (Electrician), P-2 license (Plumber), etc. Still an employee, however no longer needs supervision.
- Stage 4 Need additional 4,000 documented hours of advance training.
- Stage 5 Once obtained, take a 6-hour written exam conducted by the State of Connecticut.
- Stage 6 If you pass, you earned a license in your profession, either an E-1 for Electrician , P-1 for plumber, etc. This entitles you to be self- employed if you wish.
- Stage 7 to Infinity (yearly) Enroll in a 7-hour class conducted by the State of Connecticut ( refresher course, new codes). If you fail to attend, you will lose your license.
Total required training / experience involved to become self-employed is equivalent to working 40 hours a week for almost 4 straight years, however usually stretched out longer.
Note , each State may vary in protocol , please check yours.
The Credentials / Journey to become a self-employed Home Improvement Contractor (Registered)
- Stage 1 Fill out a form and pay a fee. No minimum hours of training required, no test, no skills, no knowledge required.
Minimum required training / experience involved to become self-employed could be equivalent to the time it takes to fill out application form ( 15 minutes )
Note , each State may vary in protocol, please check yours.
A shocking difference in the process , isn’t it ? ! .Exposing that all home improvement contractors don’t have the necessary skills, knowledge nor experience in possibly some or all types of home improvement projects, which is an assumption that many, many homeowners presume they do.
Many, many individuals with a limited amount of home improvement experience that are either unemployed , laid off or were fired from either this profession or an entirely different profession can easily obtain a Home Improvement registration to become self-employed.
In contrast, if an apprentice plumber, electrician, heating & cooling person was either laid off, unemployed or was fired, the same with a much skilled / knowledgeable person with a E2 or P2 license , they will not be able to work in the field as a self-employed contractor without first completing all six stages of their journey mentioned above .
The following examples can / do occur due to the process of being a self-employed home improvement contractor
- They inform homeowner they have for example a total of 10 years of experience , however since the time prior to being self-employed is not documented , it’s questionable.
- They inform homeowner they have for example a total of 10 years of experience ( which is actually true ) however may have little or no experience in the type of project you want done.
- Besides the ease of becoming a self-employed Home Improvement contractor it’s also an attraction to become one , even self-acknowledging they’re not fully experienced nor properly / fully trained . The reason being is “ Money “ , for example , they were recently worth / making $ 15.00 an hour as an employee , now becoming self-employed , they can in theory double / triple their hourly wage and still under-cut established Home Improvement Contractors and care less about the homeowner’s concerns / expeditions.
Understanding that being a self-employed home improvement contractor is easily obtained , should remind you to look into the business’s background / history and request / check references.
I have interviewed thousands of carpenters in the almost half a century of being in business when needing to hire additional employees . Some candidates being self-employed , either in the past or currently. I would like to share with you on what I’ve observed regarding ones that obtained a Home Improvement Registration. When interviewing these candidates, the first question I ask is “ Home many years of Knowledge do you have”. At first their puzzled , because I replaced the word “Knowledge” with the word they expected me to save which is “Experience . I do this because someone can truly have 20 years of experience however only 8 years of knowledge, the same , someone can truly have 8 years of experience however 20 years of knowledge. The variations are based on , 1) If they were properly trained . 2) If they retain information. 3) If they are dedicated and a smart worker. My objective is not to be misled by hiring an over-rated person that’s not capable of either performing the work they state they can do or not being productive for the wage they say they want. Usually all candidates applying for employment misrepresent themselves in enhancing their total years of experience. They’ll include the time they were not working ,fired , laid off , unemployed , not busy or in a different profession. The worst individuals are the ones that their total experience time is almost equivalent to the amount of time being self-employed, meaning they were self -taught , thus never properly trained , translating to wasted time due to not being knowledgeable or skilled in procedure and production. During my interview I’ll ask them their procedure in a variety of task to evaluate if they think and work productively or not. Also, I’ll ask , and if they say yes , they know how to tape drywall , can lay-out roof rafters ,stair stringers, etc. I’ll actually hand them the tools to perform this work to determine if in-fact they have the skills to do so. By the end of our interview or some call it an interrogation , I’m able to determine their worth and potential and know if I would be interested in hiring them.
You the homeowner now knowing the ease of being a self-employed home improvement contractor ( HIC ) & now knowing there’s an assortment of trades associated with this title I recommend you read another blog of mine “Top 10 scams in Home Improvements with solutions” to help you distinguish from truth and fiction of any potential person your considering hiring for your project.
Thank you , John Arnone