Nevada State Contractors Board helps homeowners

Summer is here, which means many are looking at their homes to make some necessary improvements, or dream renovations. Before you decide to hire a professional to assist you, the Nevada State Contractors Board wants to share some tips that will best ensure you are receiving the full protections available, should your project not go as planned.

Always hire licensed contractors according to Contractors Board Executive Officer Margi Grein. A contractor’s license is different than a business license, which is maintained by the Secretary of State’s Office and does not carry the same protections offered by the NSCB.

“Any electrical, plumbing, heating, refrigeration or air conditioning service must be done by a licensed contractor pursuant to state law,” Grein explained. “Homeowners should also know that if the value of the work being performed—including labor and materials—is more than $1,000 or requires a building permit, a contractor’s license is required.”

Verifying a contractor’s license is easy and can be done online at nscb.nv.gov, by calling the NSCB at 702.486.1100 or by accessing the NSCB’s mobile application, which is free for Android and iPhone users. The information you’ll receive will indicate the status of the contractor’s license, the monetary limit (maximum value a contractor can bid on a single project) as well as any disciplinary history the contractor may have with the NSCB.

Contractors must undergo a criminal background check, demonstrate their financial responsibility to engage in work, show a minimum of four years of recent experience in the trade they are requesting to work, as well as pass licensing exams that test their knowledge of various construction, building, and insurance laws in addition to the skills of the trade(s), among other requirements such as insurance and bonding.

Remember that the lowest bid is not necessarily the best bid.

These requirements promote integrity and confidence in the construction industry. When you hire a licensed contractor, you may be eligible for the Residential Recovery Fund, which affords homeowners of single-family residences up to $35,000 in financial recourse if damages are incurred during the course of a project.

When hiring a contractor, have a clear vision of the work you want to be done, the intended outcome and discuss your budget.

Ask friends and family for contractor referrals. After verifying they possess the proper contractor license(s), obtain at least three bids and review. Make sure each bid is inclusive of all costs for all the work to be performed, along with quality materials and permitting costs. Remember that the lowest bid is not necessarily the best bid.

Once you have chosen a contractor, insist on a detailed, written contract that includes colors, model numbers and quantities of materials to be used, as well as a work and payment schedule. Ask for and verify the license of any subcontractors that may be used, and ensure payments are commensurate with the work completed.

When you turn to an unlicensed contractor, who often comes in with a less expensive quote or too-good-to-be-true promises, you may not realize the protections you are losing, the liability and risk you are assuming, or the added expense you are likely to incur in the event the work does not meet your expectations.

Repairing or Renovating Your Home?

Some unlicensed contractors are true scam artists, equipped with smooth talking salesmen, high-pressured sales tactics and dubious schemes or business practices that often involve diverting the homeowner’s attention from what is actually taking place. Grein urges homeowners to never let individuals into your home that you do not know or have not personally solicited for a service. In some instances, homeowners have reported being robbed. A salesman will enter your home to give you an “estimate” while another worker will use the restroom or walk the home taking items of value.

While few resort to violence or thievery, unlicensed contractors are also more likely to target seniors or other individuals they believe they can intimidate.

Always contact the NSCB with questions or concerns about the work being performed in your home or if the contractor is not responsive. You have four years from the date the work is performed to file a complaint for remedy, so keep your documents organized. The Nevada State Contractors Board is here to help homeowners maintain and improve their homes using reputable licensed contractors.

More Information
Grein urges homeowners to exercise caution when they encounter these tactics from someone offering home repair services:

• “Today-only” pricing;
• Demands for large down payments and cash transactions;
• Offers to use leftover materials at a discount;
• Unwillingness to draft a written contract or bid.

Margi Grein, Nevada State Contractors Board Executive

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