Who needs a home improvement contractor license?
By law, any person or business that solicits, canvasses, sells, performs, or obtains home improvement work that costs more than $200 must get a license from DCA to operate legally in New York City. Home improvement work can be any type of remodeling or repair including: awnings, basements, central heating/air conditioning, cabinet installation, central vacuum cleaning system, communications systems, driveways, fences, garages, patios, porches, roofing, sidewalks, storm windows, swimming pools, and terraces. Landscaping is also considered home improvement, with proper planting and installation of lawn sprinklers as examples of common work.
A license provides benefits for contractors, allowing them to pay into DCA’s Home Improvement Contractor Trust Fund and, therefore, saving the expense of obtaining a bond. In addition, licensed contractors have greater recourse to defend themselves from false claims or when a client refuses to pay when the job is done.
Why should I hire a licensed home improvement contractor?
Licensed contractors must undergo a criminal history check, pass an examination on their knowledge of the law and contracts, and contribute $200 to DCA's Trust Fund at the time of application and each time they renew or post a bond. DCA's Trust Fund reimburses homeowners who hired a licensed contractor who subsequently damaged their home and went out of business or left town.
Although a license does not ensure competence, requirements for contractors to operate legally provide protection for consumers.
What does DCA do when it discovers unlicensed home improvement activity?
DCA vigorously enforces City rules that protect homeowners stuck with unfinished, shoddy work by home improvement contractors. One of the most common homeowner complaints involves contractors working without a license.
When DCA discovers an unlicensed home improvement business, the agency takes possession of contractors' vehicles. Contractors must pay a fine, resolve any outstanding complaints, and agree to get licensed before they can retrieve their vehicles.
return to top