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Question DetailsAsked on 10/23/2012

Do I need a licensed contractor to re-build a deck and should they have workers comp or other insurance before working on my property?

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5 Answers

Voted Best Answer

As stated by others: You get what you pay for. Many contractors no longer use employees. The cost/benefit ratio is gone by the time worker's comp. insurance, unemplyment and other taxes are paid. Especially with the high turnover in our industry. Many, myself included, have our guys set up as sub-contractors. That means even if the job is only for a day the duties have been outlined and a set pay to complete those duties has been established from the onset. It's a better way to manage costs once I got used to it. Also, it means I can operate cheaper and not have to charge as much to the customer. My agreements with my guys, which they sign, make it clear that I nor the homeowner are responsible for their safety and medical care should a problem arise and that all parties are relieved of any such obligation. If you hire a contractor who follows this growing practice ask to see a copy of his sub-contractor agreement.

That being said, a legitimate contractor still has operating cost which vary by area and how they run their business. I break even at $150/day not including labor and materials so I've got to charge more than that to make money. To keep the math simple, if I'm paying $250 for a pne day job in labor plus another $300 in materials and $150 operating costs I've got to charge $700 to the customer to break even. That's if I'm only doing one job a day which is why most of us manage several at a time. The point I'm trying to make is that someone with the necessary knowledge and experience to build you a safe deck is not going to be cheap. Knowledge accompanies success which costs money.

I've repaired or restructured several decks built by handymen who should find another profession. Ask yourself this question when hiring someone for this project: Would I trust this person to build my house? If the answer is no you need to find someone else. The deck is just as important. It's where your family, friends, kids are going to gather and interact. If it isn't structurally sound it can collapse causing injury or even death. One last word on decks: Always screw a deck together, don't nail it.

Todd Shell
Todd's Home Services
San Antonio, TX

Answered 5 years ago by Todd's Home Services


Workers comp is a must for your protection. Licensing requirements vary by state,county,and city. Some definately require a license and a building permit, so check with your local building department.

Of course checking Angie's List for a contractor ,is the place to go to find a quality contractor.


Answered 5 years ago by BayAreaAC


Unless you are looking to hire a low cost pickup officed laborer with no guarantees on their work hire a licensed contractor. You get what you pay for and unfortunately in most areas workers comp is not required for an owner operator, they are Self Insured which means you are liable for their injuries. Virtually all official contractors have some form of public liabilty insuance. Unfortunately no enity even Angie does a check on whether a company is telling the truth when they claim insurance so ask to see an Insurance Binder with the contractors name and an experation date that means the policy is current. If you think it is fraudulant you can call the issueing insurance agency ( their # is always on the binder).
Do you need workman's comp for your project, probably not if you are hiring a handyman or moonlighting carpenter to save money. It is a balancing act cost vs benefit.
Jim Casper Gutter Cover & Gutter Contractor


Answered 5 years ago by jccasper


Hi, arubin.

Here's some information on decks. Depending on the project and your level of building expertise, you can attempt it yourself, but highly rated home inspectors tell us that about one-third of the decks they check are unsafe. So you should definitely know what your doing.

If you do consider hiring a contractor, check their ratings on Angie's List, where you should also see their licensing and insurance. When considering companies, be sure to ask what insurance, like workman's comp, that they carry.


Answered 5 years ago by HughV


In many larger cities, the contractor will need to have a license. But you will have to check with your local officials.

If he does not have paid employees, workers comp may not be required. But if he has it, it would be ideal for him to cover a 1M policy.

The thing you want to look for is proof of General Liability Insurance. Keep in mind that the proof/certificate he shows you is only valid that day. Contractors are use to people calling their agent to confirm the policy is currently active.


Answered 5 years ago by osensnolf


As for licensing, most carpenters or general deck builders do not need a license to build a deck. Having said that however, you may need to pull a permit if your deck is going to come within eight feet of a property line. In some areas it may be less. You will need to check your local building codes to be sure. In most cases a contractor must be AT LEAST registered with most cities in order to pull a permit. I have built room additions here in Fort Worth, Texas and I am required to register, not license, as a contractor to pull any type of permit. If you are positive that your deck will not violate any building codes, then your contractor will not need a license. If you have plumbing or electrical work added to your deck, then you WILL need a licensed plumber and/or electrician.
As for protecting yourself from any liabilty that your contractor may incurr from property damage or personal injury, you should hire a contractor who has "public" liabilty insurance. This will cover you even if the contractor damages your neighbor's property.
As for workers comp, if the contractor has employees, he may be required to carry worker's comp insurance. If the contractor is a stand alone person, he is not required to carry that on him or herelf. HOWEVER, you should always get your agreement in writing, and make sure there is a clause or paragraph in the agreement that plainly states that the contractor is responsible for ALL damages including property damage and personal injury.
Old World Remodeling

Answered 5 years ago by OldWorldRemodeling

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