New York City Contractors:
Finding A Licensed Contractor
To Renovate Your Apartment
New York Contractors
Hiring a contractor to remodel, upgrade, or alter your condo is an important job. That’s why you should go about choosing a one carefully, preferably with the assistance of
a lawyer who can help you review and revise a written contract for the work. If your contractor promises to complete the work on time and within your budget, then he should
be willing to put that promise in the contract reviewed by your attorney. Otherwise, that promise is like an offer to buy the Brooklyn Bridge: fuggedabout it!
Whether you are spendiing $10,000 or $200,000 to remodel your apartment,
it would be foolish not to put the contract in writing. You also want a list of verifiable references of the contractor’s clients who you can contact and see the work
done on their apartments. Your condo’s managing agent should also have an application package related to any construction project in the building. This generally requires
you to provide a copy of a signed contract with the proposed contractor, copies of current licenses of any plumbers, electricians, etc. who will work on the job,
workmans compensation insurance certification, and a specific minimum level of liability insurance naming you and your condo and as intended third-party beneficiaries under the
insurance certificate for the job. Do yourself a favor: do your homework before signing
Make Sure That Your Contractor Is Licensed
There are important reasons to make sure that you hire a licensed contractor. You may have friends who claim they’ve hired
‘the best contractor in the city,’ but contractors who are licensed by the city must have undergone a criminal history check,
pass a written examination, pay a license fee, and post a bond or contribute to a trust fund that gives restitution to consumers.
New York City law requires that any person or business that
solicits, canvasses, sells, performs or obtains home
improvement work where all costs (including labor,
materials, etc.) totalling more than $200 must have a
Home Improvement Contractor’s license from the City’s Department of Consumer Affairs (“DCA”).
An HIC license does not, however, prove that the contractor is licensed to do certain types of specialized work.
Plumbers and electricians must have been issued different licenses from New York City’s Department of Buildings (“DOB”).
Other types of specialized work like asbestos abatement and lead abatement, can only be done by contractors who are specially licensed by New York State.
While a license is, unfortunately, not a guarantee that a contractor will always engage in
proper business conduct, it gives the DCA legal authority to act on your behalf to go after the
contractor for shady work. More importantly, it allows the DCA to consider your application for
restitution from the trust fund mentioned above for work by unscrupulous contractors on your apartment.
New York City’s home improvement business law defines a
contractor as anyone who “owns, operates, maintains,
conducts, controls or transacts a home improvement
business” and “undertakes or offers to undertake or agrees
to perform any home improvement or solicits any contract
therefor,” whether or not the contractor is a prime
contractor or subcontractor.
What happens if you guy rings your apartment buzzer and claims to be selling the services of a
contractor who can redo your kitchen or bathroom for a great price? That person would also have
to be licensed as a Home Improvement Salesperson under New York City law.
Specially Licensed Contractors
Due to the hazardous nature of the work involved for both the customer and the contractor, you should only have
lead inspection and lead abatement work done by a contractor who can offer verifiable certification to have completed a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (“E.P.A.”) lead abatement and inspection certification course.
EPA-certification means that:
- EPA-Certified lead abatement contractors and lead inspectors have completed a training program
approved by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
- Lead abatement contractors have been trained in lead abatement methods, safe work practices, cleaning
methods and worker protection. EPA-Certified supervisors have completed a 32-hour course and certified
workers have completed a 16-hour course.
- Lead inspectors are trained to inspect for lead paint hazards and to take dust wipe samples after the lead
abatement work is finished. EPA-Certified inspectors have completed a 24-hour course. Lead risk
assessors are inspectors who have additional training.
asbestos abatement work.
Asbestos Contractors and Air Monitoring Firms
Dept. of Buildings Licensing Unit