It starts with a phone call.
A house-flipper trying to get a good deal on electrical and air conditioning work sets up appointments with contractors.
Only this isn't a house-flipper at all.
She is an undercover investigator with the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation. Investigators set up in a vacant home to meet the contractors who don’t show their license numbers on their advertisements as Texas law mandates/
The air conditioning is turned off to make the situation more believable.
The Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation is cracking down on unlicensed contractors with customer complaints or who don't display a license number.
One by one, the contractors walk into the home, scoping out the work with the undercover investigator.
They talk about work proposals and bid prices - sometimes even admitting that they're unlicensed.
“I have to show my license and I have to show my bond and my insurance and it pretty much just jacks up the price for you but what I do, is I'm very independent,” one contractor said. “I do this on my own.”
The Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation requires electrical contractors to have a master electrician and a contractor's license.
Licensed contractors have to prove they've gotten formal training and then pass a test.
According to investigators, many who show up to the sting operation have neither.
Still, they show up the next day with contract in hand and ready to collect cash for the job.
While one of the unlicensed contractors waited for the undercover house-flipper to come back, ABC-7 talked to the man about his not being licensed and not having insurance to do jobs.
“Como?” he responded before being asked again about not being a licensed contractor. “Yeah, I just do this independent.”
Even though he is violating the law by not being licensed and not having insurance for the job, he maintained he is honest and upfront with customers.
“But what happens if the house burns down because of faulty electrical work?” ABC-7 asked the man.
“Pues, that's going to be on me then. That's going to be on the contract, like I signed,” he responded.
“But you don't have insurance to cover that. So how would you cover that?” ABC-7 asked him.
“Well that's what I'm saying,” he responded. “You all are coming to me with these questions and I've already told you all that I've already explained to her (the undercover investigator).”
He said at a certain point you have to be licensed but the law states you have to be licensed to do any of the work.
“There's a lot of contractors that do cheat people out,” he told ABC-7. “I don't. I write contracts. I don't do anything wrong. I do my work right. I'm experienced. I don't know what else to tell you.”
ABC-7 saw at least one Craigslist posting warning about this man's contracting work. The man disputed the Craigslist warning.
“Not on me,” he responded.
Investigators don't detain the unlicensed contractors but do open an investigation on them and ask that they immediately stop performing the work they're not licensed to do.