Suppose you are in dire straights, you have company coming and your toilet decides to go on strike. Your gonna get anyone who answers their phone and can come ‘now’. This is where people screw up. Before they know it, things are even worse. What are you gonna do? Stay with this plumber? Fire him? Then try to find someone else on short notice? Good luck with that.
Mr.Wrekker is quite the handy-person. If I can catch him, between his hobbies and other retirement pursuits, I’m good. His biggest headache is he knows everyone in this county. And they know of his handy-talents. He is asked at least twice a week to come help someone with issues. He will go help, if he can. Lately he’s taken to teaching and supervising these events. He said it’s much more pleasant to sit in chair having a cool beverage, while telling some young dude exactly what to do. I applaud his ingenuity.
There are plenty of contractors who may as well be the Stooges. Never finishing jobs, if they do finish it’s done wrong. All they have to do is find new customers. They can have references to some jobs they did right, or just some friends who will say what a wonderful job they did. Eventually they’ll get sued, word might get around, but tradesmen are in short supply, it’s a big country, and they can keep going for a long time.
ETA: Getting licensed and insured as a general contractor can be pretty easy. Harder to get a license for electrical or plumbing but plenty of customer don’t care if they hire someone licensed who will show up and give them a good price for repairs and small improvements, and then do it without a permit so no inspector will ever show up.
Just because you do a terrible job doesn’t mean you can’t be licensed. Sure, if you do things that are against code, it could be an issue. But what if the problem is that you walk around in the house and leave muddy footprints or rifle through medicine cabinets and steal all the narcotics?
There is (was) a person in my city that did HVAC work. If you ask just about any business in my area if they’ve ever used him, their answer is almost always “yes…once”. He did a terrible job and what he did do, would take forever. I would always tell people “Call [company I like] and pay $1500 and your walk in freezer will be back up and running in a few hours…or call him and pay $500, but it’ll take him 3 tries over the course of a week”. So many of us grocery stores/restaurants etc, can’t have thousands or tens of thousands of dollars worth of merchandise warming up. In the end it’s cheaper to pay more and get it fixed faster and better.
And, while I don’t know what it takes to be bonded, getting a license doesn’t mean you do ‘good’ work, often times it means you passed a test. Hell, I have an EPA (for HVAC) license, good forever, that I got by taking an online test. The EPA license that’s one up from mine requires a proctored exam, but no one is making sure you can properly braze a pipe or even that you don’t vent all the freon.
I think if you do awful work, the biggest issue you’ll have is word of mouth, especially with all the social media sites. To lose your license (and/or the ability to work in a given city), you’ll have to do things against code that require permits.
Also, I suppose, if you don’t do a good job, you could end up with enough callbacks that you run out of money.
I should mention that, at least around here, getting licensed to be an electrician is a lot harder than taking a test. I’ve looked into it (so I could pull my own permits and do my own work) and off the top of my head it requires 2000 or 4000 hours as an apprentice.