The wind rolled and heaved in rushing swells, snarling and growling through the trees, ratting the listless, animating the lifeless.  Rain spit and sputtered as tender, nascent plants braced and steeled themselves.  The menacing storm grew malicious as man and beast sought shelter, awaiting its passing, so damage could be assessed and peace again restored.

Like a brewing storm, uninsured contractors sweep into the lives of unsuspecting homeowners.  On the surface, they may appear to be reputable, knowledgeable, and even charming.  Their prices, many times, appear to be more attractive than other contractors, but I can promise you, you will not be saving any money.  In fact, you’ll be putting yourself and your financial well-being at risk.

Contractors should carry two types of insurance – liability and worker’s compensation.  Liability protects the homeowner should any damage occur to their home while the contractor is working, and worker’s compensation covers the contractor’s employees in the event an injury occurs on the job.

Many unsuspecting homeowners make the mistake of assuming the potential contractor is both licensed and insured.  After all, could they really be doing business without either?  The answer is, sadly, yes.  There is no true regulating body who can stop these companies or ensure they carry the proper insurance.  Eventually, however, the law may catch up with them, but usually only after the damage has been done.  Other homeowners may assume the risk of an uninsured contractor because their prices are just too appealing.  Operating under the assumption that if anything does happen, their homeowner’s insurance has them covered.  This is simply not the case.  In many instances, unless you have purchased additional coverage for “in home” employees, homeowner’s insurance cannot and will not help, leaving you with a hefty bill, damaged home, and potential lawsuit.  Additionally, your policy may state that you are required to hire only licensed, insured contractors, so if something were to happen, the insurance company has exempted itself.  In fact, insurance companies have a name for these shady companies – “bootleg” contractors.  Scarier still, if the contractor’s employee was to injure himself on the job, in your home, your homeowner’s policy, most likely, won’t cover the incident, and you’ll be responsible for mounting medical bills, and a potential lawsuit brought on by the injured party.  Scared yet?

In an effort to protect yourself, always vet the company first.  Ask questions, check out their website, obtain a list of referrals, read through consumer reviews, and check their status with the Better Business Bureau (BBB).  If necessary, check with your local licensing authority and/or state and obtain copies of any licenses, if needed.  Ask the contractor for a certificate of insurance (COI) then call the insurance carrier to make sure the policy is current.  The Illinois Attorney General also suggests checking with the contractor’s vendors to make sure they pay their bills in a timely manner, and be leery of businesses that operate out of P.O. Boxes or private mailboxes.  A little work up front will help ensure successful completion of the job while leaving your sanity and finances in tact.

Please don’t be their next victim.  Savvy homeowners who do their research and refuse to hire these bogus companies will eventually drive them back into the shadows and eventually out of business, which is good for consumers and reputable contractors.  Feel free to reach out to Sweeney’s anytime.  We are fully licensed and insured for your protection and ours.

Plant of the Week


Photos of Tuff Stuff Mountain Hydrangea courtesy of Midwest Groundcovers

Tuff Stuff Mountain Hydrangea

Purplish-pink lacecap flowers bloom June – October amongst coarse green foliage that turns purplish-bronze in Fall.  Semi double florets mature from a soft cream to an intense pink.  Prefers sun to partial shade and moist, well-drained soil.  Grows 24-36″ tall and 24-36″ wide.  Attracts butterflies and other pollinators.  Salt tolerant.

“Clouds, leaves, soil, and wind all offer themselves as signals of changes in the weather.  However, not all the storms of life can be predicted.”

-David Petersen

Best wishes,

Kim Sweeney