Heads up, renovators: you've got a crucial deadline coming next week

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Renovating? We hate to add another deadline to what is undoubtedly a frenzy-inducing project timeline, but this is a big one. On Feb. 28, city licenses for anyone in the home renovation business expire, according to Sweeten, so it’s a good idea to double check that your contractor has renewed his certification, known as the Home Improvement Contractor, or HIC, license.

The city Department of Consumer Affairs, which oversees these businesses, has a database where you can look up HIC licenses. (Note that architects and designers are licensed differently.) And Sweeten has its own user-friendly search bar, which also lists expiration dates:

As we’ve noted before, a license is no guarantee that your contractor will do a good job--let alone stick to a budget or a schedule. But it does indicate that the person you hired is following the law, at least in this respect. And it means three more notable things: the contractor has gone through a criminal background check and fingerprinting, passed a test about the relevant laws, and put $200 into a city “restitution fund” for renovators whose licensed contractors do damage and then skip town or go out of business. As Sweeten puts it, “the city is pretty much offering free protections for homeowners here.”


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