Unlicensed building contractors found all over South Carolina

A sting operation by a state agency found dozens of unlicensed building contractors operating in the state.

The South Carolina Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation found, in just an 8-hour period, 70 unlicensed contractors working across the Palmetto state.

Berkley White, owner of Classic Home Building in Myrtle Beach and a board member on the Horry Georgetown Homebuilders Association says that's a problem, because hiring an unlicensed, uninsured contractor can be risky for consumers.

"If you're going to remodel your home, if they damage an heirloom antique that you have and they don't have insurance and they say, 'I don't want to pay for it,' how are you going to collect on that?" White asks.

Or, if a contractor doesn't have workmen's compensation insurance and one of his workers gets hurt on your job, White says that employee will come to you to make a claim.

Also, White suggests being wary of any contractor who asks for too much money before doing any work. A deposit of 10 to 25 percent is usually about right, he says.

"But when somebody talks about getting 50 percent or 100 percent upfront, please stay away from that."

White says one reason why unlicensed contractors may be such a big problem is because construction seems like such an easy business for people to get into.

"They can swing a hammer and they know where to go get 2 by 4's, but they don't know where to get all the proper licenses or they don't know how to or what the regulations are," White said.

He suggests asking your contractor for references - financial, vendor and trade references - and then check those out.

It may say "licensed and bonded" on a contractor's truck, but White says that doesn't necessarily make it true.

To check to see if a builder is licensed, click here.