Hire a pro­fes­sional builder

The Covington News - - Front page -

On July 1, 2008, an im­por­tant law went into ef­fect in the State of Ge­or­gia: Builder Li­cens­ing. Prior to the law’s en­act­ment, there were state li­censed plumb­ing, elec­tri­cal, and con­di­tioned air (heat­ing & air) con­trac­tors. How­ever, any­one with a truck and a ham­mer could call them­selves a “builder.” This was a ma­jor prob­lem re­gard­ing en­sur­ing the qual­ity of construction per­formed and pro­tect­ing con­sumers. Now that the law is in place, there are stan­dards for be­com­ing a li­censed builder: pass­ing a rig­or­ous exam, meet­ing a ex­pe­ri­ence qual­i­fi­ca­tions, fi­nan­cial re­quire­ments and car­ry­ing Worker’s Com­pen­sa­tion and Gen­eral Li­a­bil­ity In­sur­ance. To fur­ther im­prove the sys­tem, start­ing in 2010, con­tin­u­ing ed­u­ca­tion will be re­quired to main­tain a li­cense.

Un­for­tu­nately, even for those who are aware of builder li­cens­ing, there are some ma­jor mis­con­cep­tions about who can per­form spe­cific types of work. Most home­own­ers know that if you want to hire some­one to in­stall a new fur­nace, they need to be a li­censed con­di­tioned air con­trac­tor. You need an elec­tri­cal panel up­graded, hire a li­censed elec­tri­cian. Ma­jor plumb­ing? Hire a li­censed plumber. Need a deck built? Hire….some guy with a saw. Wrong.

A li­censed builder is not some­one who just con­structs a new struc­ture. A li­censed builder also deals with work on an ex­ist­ing struc­ture. Some ex­am­ples of projects around your home that would re­quire a li­censed builder: build an ad­di­tion, fin­ish out a base­ment, mov­ing a wall, in­stalling larger win­dows than those ex­ist­ing, en­clos­ing a garage, adding a door, build­ing or re­pair­ing a deck, build­ing a per­ma­nent out­build­ing, etc. Any time you need “struc­tural” work done or you are co­or­di­nat­ing sub­con­trac­tors, you need a li­censed builder.

There is one ex­cep­tion: The re­quire­ment for a li­censed builder is waived if you are per­son­ally per­form­ing the work on your own pri­mary res­i­dence. How­ever, if the prop­erty is any­thing other than your pri­mary res­i­dence, you can­not act as the builder or gen­eral con­trac­tor. Rental prop­er­ties, house flip­ping, offices, va­ca­tion homes, etc. do not count as your pri­mary res­i­dence.

There are a lot of ad­van­tages to hir­ing a li- censed Builder. First, you know they are in­sured. If a worker gets hurt on the job or the prop­erty is dam­aged, the builder is re­spon­si­ble, not you. Sec­ond, they know the ap­pli­ca­ble build­ing codes. This means that the job is per­formed at or above code re­quire­ments and will pass in­spec­tion (we’ll deal with per­mits and in­spec­tions an­other time). Next, a li­censed builder is not go­ing to be a “fly-bynight” guy with a truck; he/she is op­er­at­ing a state li­censed pro­fes­sional busi­ness. Fi­nally, you have a war­ranty. In fact, you have a two-tiered war­ranty. The builder will war­ranty the work (state min­i­mum is 1 year) and is re­spon­si­ble for cor­rect­ing de­fi­cien­cies and dam­ages re­lated to the de­fi­cien­cies. If for some rea­son the builder were not reach­able, you would also have the war­ranty of the sub­con­trac­tor (as ap­pli­ca­ble).

The big ques­tion: how do you find a li­censed Builder and know that they are ac­tu­ally li­censed? An easy lo­cal ref­er­ence is to con­tact the New­ton County Home Builders As­so­ci­a­tion at (770) 7863333. They can pro­vide you a list of li­censed builders in the area. You can also check the Ge­or­gia Sec­re­tary of State’s Web site for a state-wide list. Any li­censed builder should be able to read­ily pro­vide copies of their li­cense and in­sur­ance. You need to see th­ese prior to any work be­ing per­formed.

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