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Selecting The Right Contractor

By Elizabeth R. Elstien

Choosing the right contractor is an important first step in the remodel process. The wrong contractor can cost you money and time. Unlike other states, the State of Texas does not have licensing laws for all types of contractors. Here is a rundown of contractor licensing regulations in the Lone Star State along with tips to help select the right contractor for your job.

General Contractor

These contractors tackle improvements to existing homes and related out buildings (such as garages, sheds, pool houses, gazebos). General contractors in Texas are not required to be licensed by or registered with the state if working on residential properties, but many cities do have registration, licensing, permitting or other requirements for these contractors. The exception is general contractors who repair or make alterations on manufactured homes are required to be licensed with the Texas Department of Housing and Community, Manufactured Home Department. Within much of Texas, usually the only requirements are proof of current contractor insurance and local registration or building permit for each property. Of course, these contractors should be bonded, as well. Many contractors, however, choose to get licensing from national trade organizations to build up their skills and remodeling reputation.

Heating, Air Conditioning and Electric Contractor

Heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) and electric contractors must be licensed by the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulations (TDLR) in Austin and can only do work in that trade. Check to see if a HVAC or electric contractor is licensed at the TDLR website.

Plumbing Contractor

Texas Plumbing License Law requires all plumbing contractors who work on residential homes to be licensed by the state through the Texas State Board of Plumbing Examiners (TSBPE). Individual home plumbing projects must be licensed. View the TSBPE website to check if a plumbing contractor is licensed.

Roofing Contractor

Texas currently has no licensing regulations for those who replace, repair or seal home rooftops, although they are currently considering implementing regulations and/or licensing to avoid fraud in the roofing trade.

Tips For Selecting The Right Contractor

Ask close friends or relatives for contractor contacts if they just had remodeling work done that you thought was done well. Be wary of contractors who promise deals that sound too good to be true or rush you into signing a contract or handing over payment. Use these tips to carefully select the right contractor and prevent yourself from becoming another victim of fraud or theft.

  1. Select a registered contractor for all plumbing, HVAC or electrical needs for better homeowner protection.
  2. Verify every credential.
  3. Ask for and call several remodeling references.
  4. Go online for claims filed against the contractor.
  5. Check with trade agency affiliations.
  6. Request proof of insurance and bonding.
  7. Contact the local Better Business Bureau.
  8. Get a signed contract specifying all terms, final price and how/when paid.
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About The Author

Elizabeth R. Elstien has worked in real estate for over 15 years as a real estate...

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