Not long ago we answered a question from a reader who wants a new hardwood floor in her living room. Because cost was her main concern, we suggested that she consider nailing down the floor herself, but hire a professional to do the sanding and finishing. To further reduce costs, we suggested that she might avoid the middleman and hire the finisher herself without involving a flooring contractor. We cautioned her to do her homework before hiring anyone and recommended against hiring an unlicensed worker unless she knew him and his work. John Motroni, a consumer affairs producer at ABC television in San Francisco, took us to task for this advice, focusing on our remark about unlicensed workers. He wrote, "I'm sure you know that it's illegal for an unlicensed contractor to bid more tha...
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