As a professionally run business, I naturally don't think much of employees doing side jobs. The first concern for me as the business owner is that the side jobber is taking away work from my company and our employees. The other concern is that because he does not have the costs that I have, he is out there setting an unrealistic expectation of cost for the consumer. That's all fine and good but those are my selfish reasons. The biggest concern is that if you hire a tradesman on the side you are not getting everything that you think you are. This side jobber does not have a formal business so he is not insured for your protection. If a side jobber were to get hurt in your home he has every legal right to sue you. When he sues you it is not just for his hospital bills either. When he sues you he is going to get money for any time he has to be off work and even for long term issues that may result from the injury. Claims like this can easily be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. When you hire a legitimate contractor he is required to have an insurance called "Workers Compensation Insurance", which protects the customer from any liability.
The next customer concern is if the side jobber damages your property. The side jobber does not have General Liability Insurance, so if he starts even a small fire or has a small leak you can decide not to pay him but that is likely to be only a fraction of the cost of the damage he will have done. As a contractor we have General Liability Insurance to protect your investment and to make sure that, in the unlikely event there is an accident, you will not have to incur any cost.
The last and largest concern is safety. I think even side jobbers have your best interest at hand but they will be thinking of themselves first. They don't have a company reputation to worry about. They can shut off their cell phone if you try to get them to come back and fix a problem. Worst of all, they may be over-worked and the mistake they make might hurt you.
Earlier this winter an apartment building owner in Skokie hired a side jobber to look at a furnace in one of their units. That same evening 6 people got very sick, 3 people ended up in the hospital and a 2 year old baby almost died from a carbon monoxide leak. It was only luck that saved the family and certainly prevented several fatalities. One of the family members just happened to be awake much later than he normally would be and heard his wife pass out and fall to the floor so he called 911.
I am very happy that no one died, but this story is not even close to over for this apartment building owner. What is she going to do now? Do you think this family might sue her? Can she blame the side jobber? She can blame the side jobber but he has no insurance so she is in a pickle. There is a good chance that even her insurance company will not cover a lawsuit because she failed to hire a legitimate business. The insurance company will not hesitate to point that out and decline coverage. I hope this goes well but in reality this apartment building owner may very well lose her building in this lawsuit. Was it worth it? Innocent people almost died. She is surely to lose hundreds of thousands of dollars in the aftermath. She probably only saved a couple hundred dollars by hiring a side jobber rather than a licensed and insured contractor. The penny you save today might cost you a dollar tomorrow and your not even getting the best job done.
Subscribe to Baethke Plumbing's Blog