Frequently Asked Questions

Hiring a contractor can be a difficult process if you do not know the proper questions to ask in order to make sure you are hiring the best contractor possible! I have put together a list of frequently asked questions that we encounter and our answers to them. I hope that you find it helpful in finding the right contractor for you!

If you have already started planning to do some renovations around your home, there is no doubt you have questioned how you will get the work done. If you live in New Jersey, you will be happy to know there are many licensed and professional contractors in New York and New Jersey that are competing for your business right now. The selection of what contractor to use can be tedious and may seem like a task of its own. However, educating yourself by going over some of our frequently asked questions and answers, you can feel confident when making your choice. 

What is a licensed contractor?
Licensed contractors have the experience and the training that is necessary to obtain a state contractor’s license. In the State of New Jersey, a contractor must go through rigorous testing and qualifying to become a licensed contractor. Other factors determine whether a contractor can become licensed in the state, such has having a clean background, proven financial competency, and more. These steps are put into place to protect you, the consumer. 

Do I really need to use a licensed contractor to complete my home renovation projects?
It depends. If your home is located in New Jersey and you do not want to hire a licensed contractor, the total costs for the work cannot exceed $30,000 and it cannot include any of the following:

• Air and heating work
• Electrical work
• Plumbing

If any of these situations pertain to your home renovations, you will need to use a licensed contractor to perform your work. Many unlicensed contractors will avoid this rule and will try to create a work-around so that they can get your job, even if it means breaking the law. This is not a good business practice and you want to steer clear from anyone who offers to do this work for you that does not hold a contractor’s license.

Another thing to look out for is contractors who offer to split the job into parts so the total will not exceed $30,000 at once. This practice has been seen all too many times that many cities and the state have caught on to the dishonesty many unlicensed contractors continue to operate under. This may be work out OK at first, but may leave you with bigger problems later down the road.

Why use a licensed contractor when I can have an unlicensed contractor do the work for less?

There is a reason why contractors go through rigorous testing and need to meet certain criteria in order to become a licensed contractor in New York and New Jersey. The state does this to protect your interest. Not every home renovation job is going to be flawless. There may be situations that arise where you and your contractor just cannot come to an agreement on something, and it happens. An unlicensed contractor can just walk away from the situation, leaving you with an unfinished job and a task of hiring someone else to pick up where they left off. A licensed contractor will work to rectify the situation, rather than risk losing his license. Choosing a licensed contractor offers you the peace of mind knowing that things will be done correctly and if a situation does arise, it will be handled professionally.

How will I know if I need permits pulled for the renovation work being done in my home?
If you use a New York and New Jersey licensed contractor, you can rest assured that if a permit is necessary—a permit will be pulled. A licensed contractor will not only pull the needed permits, but also will schedule inspections and make sure everything is finalized with the city before he turns over the completed job to you. For your knowledge, any renovation job over $5,000 or one that involves any electrical, plumbing, air and heating work or structural work will need a permit. 

Why can’t I have the renovation work done without a permit? Who is going to know?

Here is the thing. If you have work done by a licensed and professional contractor here in New York and New Jersey, he or she is not going to want to jeopardize their state license by completing unpermitted work. If you hire an unlicensed contractor, they will not be able to pull permits whatsoever. This may seem fine at the moment, but having work done in your home without pulling a permit when it is necessary will come back to haunt you later on. 

First, if a permit is required for your home renovations, it is illegal to complete the work without one. Secondly, work that is done without a permit went without being inspected by a certified inspector that works on your behalf to make sure the work is not only done correctly, but does not pose any safety or life-threatening issues. Lastly, when it comes time to sell your home, potential buyers will need to be notified of any unpermitted work that has been done in the home. You may be tempted not to disclose this information, but it is illegal not to. Besides, most buyers will have a home inspector look for things like unpermitted renovations before they purchase a home. If they hired a sharp home inspector, the inspector will be able to tell just by looking up property records what permits were pulled and for what. Most of this information is public record and is quite easy to obtain.

What other benefits are there to using a licensed contractor over a non-licensed contractor?
• Licensed contractors in New Jersey meet or exceed state requirements in order to become licensed in the first place.
• The New York and New Jersey State Licensing Board holds licensed contractors accountable for all the work they do.
• Licensed contractors have liability and worker’s compensation insurance. This will protect you, the homeowner, in the event someone is iNew York and New Jerseyured or damage is done while performing the renovations in your home.
• Only licensed contractors can obtain permits. Unlicensed contractors cannot.
• If anything goes wrong with your home renovations, the state has a recovery/reimbursement fund that will cover homeowners that used only licensed contractors to do the work.

How can I find a licensed contractor? Better yet, how can I check if a contractor is licensed in the State of New Jersey? 
Thanks to the internet, finding this information has never been easier. The New Jersey Licensing Board for General Contractors has an official website where you can find out this information. Just go here to  to look up any contractor information you need. 

How long does a typical home renovation project take?
When choosing a New York and New Jersey licensed contractor to do your renovation work, they can give you a rough estimate but should never offer any guaranteed project completion date. Every project is different and the more complex and detailed a project is, the longer it will take—especially when permits and inspections are involved.


Fontana and Sons Construction is an award-winning general contractor. We have the experience and the personnel to help you build your construction project right the first time. If you need help with your existing building or planning new construction, give us a call at 732-446-0884

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