Under State law, all contractors doing work valued at $600 and above, on homes in Michigan, must be licensed. This includes both new construction of a residential structure, and the repair, alteration, addition, subtraction or improvement of a residential structure. Contractors can be licensed either as "Residential Builders" or "Maintenance & Alterations Contractors".
This law is administered and enforced by the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA), with the assistance of a 9-member board, called the "Residential Builders' and Maintenance and Alteration Contractors' Board", made up of four residential builders, two maintenance & alterations contractors, and three members of the general public.
The founder, owner and president of Premier Veneers, Jeff Donius, was just appointed to this board, as a representative of Maintenance & Alterations Contractors, in recognition of his expertise in construction, and in particular, the concrete and painting & decorating trades. Jeff has been licensed as a Maintenance & Alterations Contractor in Michigan since December 2000.
This appointment was announced by Michigan Governor Rick Snyder this past Thursday, May 10th, 2018, in this Board Appointment Press Release . The listing of the entire 9-member board can be found on LARA's website: Residential Builders' and Maintenance and Alteration Contractors' Board .
The main purpose of Michigan's contractor licensing law is to protect the public from inadequate building practices. The way this law works, in practice, is that if a homeowner has a dispute, or other difficulties, with a licensed contractor they have hired, they may file a complaint with LARA. Subsequently, LARA will conduct an investigation, hold a hearing, and if appropriate, sanction the contractor.
If the contractor is not licensed, homeowners must file a complaint against the contractor, instead, with the Michigan Attorney General’s Office of Consumer Protection. In this instance, the Attorney General will investigate; and the penalties are much more severe. The first offense for unlicensed contractor activity under the Michigan Occupational Code is a fine of between $5,000 and $25,000 and up to a year in jail. The Attorney General may also impose a cease & desist order against the contractor.
In either case, the homeowner must file suit in district court - typically small claims, if the amount is $6,000 or less - in order to recover damages. The homeowner will, as a rule, win a default judgment from the court, if the contractor is unlicensed. However, there is still the matter of enforcing the judgment, which can be difficult against an unlicensed contractor.
The moral of the story is ALWAYS HIRED A LICENSED CONTRACTOR IN THE STATE OF MICHIGAN FOR RESIDENTIAL WORK. This is not always easy, since a good majority of residential contractors in the State of Michigan are not licensed, and because a lot of commercial contractors - who don't require licensing - also do residential work on the side.
But contractors doing residential work in Michigan are required under State law to show you their wallet-size license before entering your home or discussing work with you. If they don't show it to you, don't hesitate to ask for it. Unfortunately, at Premier Veneers, we routinely encounter, and receive inquiries from, homeowners who have lost money to unlicensed contractors and need to have a project redone.
Often, we can assist not only in correcting the work, but in advising the homeowner on common sense action that can be taken to recover their money. We helped one homeowner in West Bloomfield two years ago recover $4,000 for shoddy work done on a decorative concrete flooring project; and another, in Illinois, over 10 years ago, recover $12,000 in an arbitration hearing for a failed decorative concrete pool deck installation.
Keep in mind, licensing is only a baseline, or minimum requirement, for residential construction work in Michigan. Good contractors will also typically have a number of certifications in the construction trades they practice, in addition to a license. At Premier Veneers, we are licensed, certified in every service we offer, and insured for commercial general liability up to $3 million.
Further information about contractor licensing in the State of Michigan can be found on LARA's website: Helpful Information For Homeowners.