Jun 4 2019
09:52 am

Throughout our lives we have to have repairs done around our homes. Many times we take it to the next step and do remodels. Please beware of unethical contractors and handymen.

There is an article in the Maryville Daily Times newspaper warning us to do our due diligence, "Need your home painted? I'm your man!". I cannot find it online, but the gist is be careful when selecting contractors. If you are offered a large discount, it's probably too good to be true. If they want the money upfront, don't. If they knock on your door, don't. No one is too smart to fall for a scam.


The State of Tennessee Dept. of Commerce & Insurance licenses contractors. They have some "Tips for Hiring a Contractor."

A couple of things I do when I need someone to do some work around the home are,

1) Ask neighbors.

2) Keep an eye out for people who are doing work around the area. Contact the resident if you think their contractor might be of interest to you for your job.

3) Get references.

4) Don't pay a lot in advance. It can all depend on the job. Some contractors may ask for a down payment. That may be okay if you have done your due diligence to research the contractor.

5) For contractors, electricians, plumbers, natural gas installers,
Are they licensed with your state? Most contractors and handymen have business licenses. A business license doesn't tell you if they have the skill to perform the task. A business license just gives them a right to run a business and pay taxes.

The State of Tennessee (as do most states) regulates contractors, electricians, etc. Go to the Tennessee Licensure Verification website to confirm the contractor has a license.

Use the "Contractors" profession type to find most contractors, electricians, plumbers, etc. Don't fill in too much or you might limit your search. I'll do searches for three different cities near us since we live in a small community. You can drill-down to the Details to see their license number, licensing dates, profession code, location city and zip code, etc.

In addition, you will see the code for their Class of license and Monetary Limit for jobs the are licensed. For example, some contractors are limited to jobs maxing out at $25,000 whereas some contractors' limits are higher. You'll have to research further to find out what the profession code indicates as well as the code for the class of license.

You can also call the State of TN Dept of Commerce & Insurance, Contractors License department (615-741-8307) for additional help.

6) For handymen: A handyman is typically a jack-of-all-trades who handles basic projects or repair jobs that don’t require special licensing. For projects that involve your home's major systems, such as plumbing, electrical, HVAC, it is best to hire a licensed professional. Friends, family, neighbors are usually the best resources to find a handyman. A locally owned store can be helpful as well, e.g. hardware, paint, etc.

Online research can be helpful. However, just because you see someone online does not mean they will do a good job. It is easy and cheap to get an online presence. Online reviews are also not reliable. Online reviews might be a start to your search, but you need references. Even if you use the Nextdoor social network you don't know if the recommendation is good unless you actually know the person recommending the handyman or contractor. They might be recommending a relative or friend that has not built up a good reputation.

There also may be a home builders association in your area that has a list of contractors. You will still need to do your research to ensure the contractor is licensed, if applicable, and has a good reputation.

In my immediate family, we're not really handy. Years ago (before the Internet) we hired a handyman to re-do caulking around our windows. We didn't know the area very well and didn't really know our neighbors. He did a horrible job and was a little scary. We paid him just to make him go away. Around the same time we hired a different person to paint the inside of our house. They used a sprayer to paint the walls and ceiling. What a mess! We didn't know. Even though they covered furniture, we found spray mist on furniture, etc. Then we needed a painter for the outside of our house and someone to replace some wallpaper. That time we went to the local paint store (just happened to be Benjamin Moore). They gave us some names. We were very pleased with both of those people.

In our current neighborhood we found a family who was getting work done all the time, e.g. washing windows, cleaning carpets, painting. I happened to find out she was an interior decorator. Thus, I thought, she might know a lot of the right people. I contacted her for names of these different contractors. For each one we used we were highly satisfied.

WhitesCreek's picture

My son bagged college to remodel high end kitchens and BRs

He works with a contractor who plainly states that he is the most expensive remodeler in the Knoxville area and is booked around six months out. He gets jobs through Angie's List but mostly word of mouth. If you can't get a good reference turn away! Cheap is almost always more expensive than quality...And plan ahead so you aren't in a hurry.

Rachel's picture

Good references are a must.

Good references are a must. Even then, finding a contractor for a small job (like the bathroom we want to redo) is difficult.

Midori Barstow's picture

Knoxville-Knox County Community Action Committee One Call Club

Can anyone here recommend this One Call Club screening service?

Knoxville-Knox County Community Action Committee
One Call Club
Access to reliable, prescreened service providers

One Call Club provides one-phone-call access to reliable, reasonably priced service providers to people of all ages who need easy access to services to maintain their homes and busy lives.


bizgrrl's picture

Good question. I think it is

Good question. I think it is a great idea.

I'd ask how they pre-screen service providers. And, as many recommend, get references for both One Call Club and the service provider(s).

We know someone who contact them for the Health Related services: "Arranging transportation for medical appointments and prescription refills, arranging personal care services:.

Basically they gave the person names of private companies that have caregivers to provide the services. No big deal, but they make it sound like they "arrange" the services.

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