Natural disasters are becoming more common, and their intensity and the damage they leave behind are increasing. In 2021, there were more than 20 billion-dollar climate- and weather-related disasters in the United States.
That means businesses should establish a partnership with a restoration services company that is ready to handle a major recovery event at a moment’s notice. Because it is difficult to vet potential firms in the midst of an emergency, the right time to perform due diligence is before a disaster strikes. One way to separate leading disaster recovery firms from the rest is to check their licenses.
When deciding which disaster recovery firm to engage, it is important to make sure that the company has the right licenses to perform the work. Some states and localities require specific licenses for restoration services. In these jurisdictions, performing work without a license is illegal and can lead to misdemeanor charges. It may also make it more difficult for a company to recover damages from the contractor if the work is not performed correctly. In essence, working with an unlicensed contractor makes your company the general contractor of a project, so you would be ultimately responsible for any damage or injuries that occur during the job.
Even if your state does not require a specific license, it is wise to look for a contractor with licenses and industry certifications that match the types of work typically needed in recovery projects.
While the job scope and location would determine the required licenses needed for a project, below is a list of common license requirements for restoration projects.
General contractor’s license: This license, usually issued by a state or local government, is required for a firm to legally perform construction work. Some states have set monetary thresholds for requiring a general contractor’s license. Other states specify what types of work require a general contractor’s license. So, if a contractor is only drying a structure with a dehumidifier or fan, or removing wet carpet, a general contractor’s license may not be required.
Building permit: Local governments require this permit to ensure that the construction work being performed meets building codes and safety standards.
Specialty licenses or registrations: Depending on the scope of work, a building restoration firm may need to hold additional specialty licenses, such as a license for transporting hazardous materials or asbestos registration. Some states, such as Florida, also require that an individual working for a restoration company hold a mold remediation license.
Lead-safe certification: For projects on structures built prior to 1978, a restoration firm may need to have lead-safe certification to safely perform work that may disturb lead-based paint.
Insurance: Disaster recovery firms should have insurance to protect against any potential accidents or injuries that may occur on the job site. Ask to see your contractor’s proof of insurance for both their general liability policy, to ensure that you are covered in case of damage, and their workers’ compensation policy, in case workers are injured on the job.
If your contractor of choice tells you that they have the right licenses, it is important not to just take their word for it. Verify whether your contractor has the right licenses so you can avoid the risks of working with an unlicensed contractor. Check your state or local government’s website to make sure your disaster recovery services provider’s licenses are in good standing. The clerk of the county where your building is located should be able to help you with the research.
If a person is affiliated with a license (i.e., the qualifying agent), ask for that person’s résumé to verify their experience. Some states require a person to be attached to the license, and some require the company to be attached. And if your contractor plans to work with subcontractors, make sure they are properly licensed as well.
If you are interested in moving forward with a licensed contractor for your next restoration project, we can help. Check out ATI Restoration’s list of national- and state-level licenses online, then contact us to discuss your needs.