March 8, 2012 – Tinton Falls, NJ – To coincide with National Consumer Protection Week, March 4-10, , Kevin Perri, Vice President of A.J. Perri, the leading heating, cooling and plumbing company in central New Jersey, encourages homeowners to do their homework and ensure that any contractors they hire are licensed, bonded, and insured. National Consumer Protection Week, according to the Federal Trade Commission’s website, “is an annual campaign among government and non-profit entities that encourages consumers to take full advantage of their consumer rights and make better-informed decisions in the marketplace.”

“Any home improvement project that requires a contractor is a major investment. It’s absolutely worth a few hours of your time to be sure that a contractor is reputable. Anyone who doesn’t check into the people they let into their home is opening the door to a number of potentially costly problems,” advises Perri.

According to a report done by CBS News, each year homeowners lose millions of dollars to unlicensed contractors. A few of the ways homeowner losses can occur:

  •  A contractor who doesn’t have worker’s compensation insurance and is injured on the job can sue a homeowner for medical bills for any injuries that happen on their property. Homeowner’s insurance doesn’t always cover all of the bills.
  •  If a contractor doesn’t finish the work or does a poor job, necessitating further repairs, the homeowner will have to pay for the work to be corrected or finished.
  •  The homeowner may be held liable for unpaid bills to suppliers, even if the contractor has already been paid for them.
  •  Any appliance or heating and cooling equipment installed by an unlicensed contractor can result in:
    •  Voided factory warranties
    •  Unsafe or inefficient operation
    •  Shortened equipment life
    •  Frequent breakdowns
  •  Building code infractions and penalties
  •  Property damage or theft

Homeowners should take some time to ensure that their contractor is licensed and insured, as well as that they are reputable.

  •  Check with the local Better Business Bureau for the contractor’s consumer rating as well as a history of complaints and resolutions.
  •  Ask for multiple references and check them.
  •  Ask for licenses, bonding, and insurance coverage. Call the licensing and bonding agencies and the insurance company to verify. Just because a contractor says they are licensed, doesn’t mean they are.
  •  Get a detailed written estimate BEFORE work begins. If a contractor won’t provide one, it’s a red flag.
  •  Get more than one estimate. If one contractor is quite a bit lower than another for the same work, they may be unlicensed.

There are things every homeowner should beware of, according to Perri. Watch out if the contractor:

  •  Asks you to get the permit for him.
  •  Requires a large down payment before beginning work.
  •  Has no license number displayed prominently.
  •  Only has an “Occupational License”.
  •  Tells you your work doesn’t need a permit.
  •  Won’t give you a written estimate or contract.
  •  Cannot provide proof of general liability or workman’s compensation insurance.

For more information on National Consumer Protection Week, visit http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/microsites/ncpw/index.shtml

To read the entire story from CBS News, visit http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2010/10/12/earlyshow/contributors/susankoeppen/main6950069.shtml

For more information about A.J. Perri, visit www.ajperri.com

A.J. Perri
A.J. Perri is a family-owned business dedicated to providing total home comfort for their New Jersey neighbors. Based in Tinton Falls, New Jersey, they have 46 years of experience in the heating and air conditioning, and plumbing industry. They service those in Monmouth, Ocean, Mercer, Middlesex, Union, Essex, and Morris counties.