Delaware Contractor License Search

What You Should Know about Hiring a Contractor in Delaware

In Delaware, there are more than 85,000 individuals and businesses that have active licenses to undertake contracting work and are immediately available for hire. By selecting a licensed contractor, you can relax knowing that the professional has the education and experience required to execute your project correctly. Professional contractors are often additionally insured and bonded to protect you from any financial liability resulting from property damage or harm to any staff on the construction site. Avoid the following individuals by confirming your contractor's license and other credentials:

  • Unreliable business partners who might steal your money
  • Unreliable contractors who jeopardize the safety of your family
  • Contractors who are unable to finish the job by applicable industry standards

In Delaware, most trades are licensed at the state level. So, before hiring a contractor in Delaware, you should consider the following points:

Who Is a Contractor in Delaware?

Contractors are businesses or individuals that offer services based on a written or oral agreement. Depending on the type of contractors, licensing is handled by different agencies. Licensing for general contractors is regulated by the Delaware Division of Revenue, and the Division of Professional Regulation is in charge of licensing electricians, plumbers, and HVACR technicians. Generally, contractors in Delaware are divided into two categories:

  • General Contractors: general contractors oversee building and home or property renovation projects. These contractors serve as the project owner's primary point of contact and organize the efforts of specialty contractors working on these projects. General contractor licenses are further divided into two groups by the Delaware Division of Revenue:
    • Resident Contractor
    • Non-Resident Contractor
  • Specialty Contractors: plumbing, electrical, HVAC (heating, cooling, ventilation, and air conditioning), painting, masonry, and roofing are just a few of the specialized tasks that these contractors are qualified to work on concerning construction and home modifications. A general contractor will frequently choose specialty contractors to complete a particular task or provide a particular service associated with a construction project. However, you may choose to collaborate directly with a specialty contractor on projects involving a single task.

How to Search for a Contractor's License in Delaware

Using the Uhire professional licensing search tool, which provides a comprehensive search option for all types of contractors, you may determine whether your potential Delaware contractor has a current license by checking their profile. Alternatively, you can use the Delaware Business Licenses Search platform to look up general contractors (both resident and non-resident) and the Division of Professional Regulation's License Verifications platform to look up specialty contractors.

Penalty for Hiring a Contractor Without a License in Delaware

In Delaware, fines and penalties for contracting without a license are a local concern often handled by each municipality. On the side of the customer, although hiring an unlicensed contractor in Delaware is not specifically sanctioned, doing so has several disadvantages like the following:

  • Local building authorities will not issue necessary permits to contractors without licensing. Building code violations can result in financial penalties and a decrease in the value of your home if projects are finished without receiving the required approvals.
  • Unlicensed contractors most likely do not have bonds or insurance. This means that any accidents or property damage that may happen while the project is underway are your responsibility.
  • You risk hiring untrained and inexperienced contractors who may provide subpar services.

How Much Does a Contractor Charge in Delaware?

The difficulty and labor requirements of the projects specialty contractors are hired for often determine final costs. Typically, specialty contractors charge between $50 and $150 per hour.

The most common specialist contractors in Delaware are included in the table below, along with their typical hourly rates; however, actual charges may vary depending on your region and the contractor's local reputation:

$67 - $81
$70 - $80
HVACR Technicians
$70 - $120
$40 - $70
$40 - $75
$55 - $100
Flooring Contractors
$40 - $80
$55 - $110
$50 - $95
$75 - $200
Interior Designers
$70 - $185
Excavation Contractors
$110 - $230
Concrete Contractors
$60 - $110
$50 - $65
Appliance Repair Technicians
$50 - $90
$40 - $95
Cleaning Services
$40 - $100
$45 - $150

Usually, more than one specialty contractor is required for a residential or commercial project. It makes sense to employ a general contractor to oversee the entire job to spare yourself the time, money, and stress of organizing various subcontractors. It's important to keep in mind that the total project cost typically determines the general contractor's fees. This amount, which accounts for 10% to 20% of the project's overall cost, is often determined using one of the techniques listed below:

  • Fixed Price Method: in this case, the contractor consents to complete the job in exchange for a specific amount. This strategy works well for projects with a defined scope and deadline.
  • Cost Plus Fee Method: in this case, the contractor adds a markup to all services provided in addition to the actual work completed on the project. For considerable projects with unclear deadlines, this approach is preferable. However, it is wise to insist on a predetermined maximum price to prevent costs from rising dramatically.

In Delaware, you can expect to pay between $100 and $400 per square foot for construction and home remodeling work. The following elements may impact overall costs:

  • Charges for permits, labor, and extras
  • Cost of contractors' services
  • The price of necessary supplies, their availability, and the project site's conditions
  • Your location
  • The project's nature and scope
  • The status and credentials of the engaged contractors

Tips for Hiring a Contractor in Delaware

It is critical to confirm that the contractors you select are qualified for the task, given the amount of money that the design, improvement, installation, maintenance, and repair of a property and its fixtures normally involve. Understanding the project scope and identifying the kinds of contractors required are the initial steps in doing this. Afterward, you should consider the following tips before employing any contractors in Delaware:

  • Employ only state-licensed contractors at all times. You can check the status of your contractor's license online.
  • Request and compare up to three estimates from different contractors for your projects.
  • Request and check the references of each bidder.
  • Before any work commences, insist on having a written contract stating all project requirements and commitments. Before signing, make sure you have read and understood the contract.
  • Verify the insurance and bonding of the contractor (and of any relevant subcontractors).
  • Never pay a project in full upfront, and never make advance payments of more than $1,000 (or 10% of the total project cost, whichever is less) for home remodeling tasks.
  • Before making the final payment, ensure the job has been completed satisfactorily.
  • Avoid paying with cash.
  • Keep copies of any project-related paperwork, such as contracts, warranties, and invoices.

Is Your Contractor Insured and Bonded as Required by Delaware Statutes?

Contractors must have workers' compensation insurance if they have one or more employees. Although the state does not require general contractor bonds, New Castle County and the City of Newark do. For master plumbers and other specialized contractors, surety bonds for Delaware contractors working in New Castle County run from $10,000 to $200,000, with no upper limit on the project value. Most general contractors in Newark will require a bond of $50,000, $75,000, or $100,000, while small-scale renovation specialists will require a $10,000 or $25,000 policy.

To protect yourself financially and legally from unanticipated events like bodily harm, unexpected property damage, and contractor errors that may arise during your project, you should check to determine if your potential contractors are properly insured and bonded. Keep in mind that insurance and bonds provide various forms of protection. The project owner and the contractor are both typically insured, shielding the former from having to pay out-of-pocket expenses associated with accidents and injuries. On the other hand, the primary function of bonds is to safeguard project owners and guarantee that they are not held accountable for any damage resulting from the contractor's failure to complete the work as agreed.

Always request proof of a contractor's bonding and insurance before hiring them. Confirm that the scope of your project is covered by their general liability insurance. You can do this by asking for a copy of their insurance (and bond) certificate and verifying it by contacting the issuer. Contact the Delaware Department of Insurance at (302) 674-7300 for more details on the required insurance and bonds for Delaware contractors.

Top Contractor Scams in Delaware

Contractor scams are common in Delaware. There have been over 550 cases of home improvement scams in Delaware since 2014, with an average of 61 cases per year.

Unreliable contractors typically employ the following techniques to trick homeowners in Delaware:

  • Going door-to-door offering a discount for unsolicited work
  • Providing free home inspections and then "discovering" issues that require immediate attention
  • Minimizing the significance of formal contracts
  • Offering contracts with questionable conditions or including blank spaces that could be filled later.
  • Increasing the price of the project's material requirements
  • Pressuring homeowners into signing up for services or paying too much for them without letting them do their research, demanding full or significant advance payments, and insisting on cash

To prevent these frauds, take the following actions before hiring contractors:

  • Avoid contractors and offers for home renovations that you didn't ask for.
  • Always hire contractors that are duly licensed.
  • Obtain and compare estimates for your project from several contractors.
  • Always do a thorough investigation of potential contractors. Ask for official agreements, read them carefully before signing, and get references to verify that they are properly insured and bonded. You might also look up their reputation online.
  • Never put your signature on anything you don't fully understand.
  • Ask your general contractor and all associated subcontractors for lien waivers.
  • Don't give more than $1,000 (or 10% of the overall project cost, whichever is less) as a down payment.
  • Avoid paying with cash.

How to Report Fraudulent Delaware Contractors

Depending on the circumstances, Delaware has a number of institutions through which you can report contractor fraud and pursue legal action against dishonest contractors.

Delaware Division of Professional Regulation

You can file a complaint with the Division of Professional Regulation if dealing with unlicensed contractors who do not have sufficient workers' compensation insurance, use misleading advertising, or underpay their employees. Note that this agency can also receive complaints against licensed contractors.

Delaware Attorney General's Office

Unfinished work, excessive costs, and dishonest business practices that cause financial loss or theft should be reported to the Delaware Attorney General's Office. You can also contact the district attorney's office in your community for these issues.

Small Claims Court

If a contractor has violated the terms of a written contract, you might consider filing a small claims case against them (suits in small claims courts cannot exceed $15,000). It is best to inform the Delaware Division of Professional Regulation and the district attorney's office in your area of the issue before doing this.

Better Business Bureau (BBB)

Alternatively, you may report a dishonest contractor to your local Better Business Bureau chapter. The BBB encourages locals to report scams, file complaints against contractors, talk about their dealings with businesses, and warn others about deceptive advertisements.

The Police Department

You should first report an event to your local police station if a contractor physically threatens or steals from you.