HIRING A CONTRACTOR
Verify the Credentials of Any ContractorAs we have shared with our readers on many occasions, it is essential and vitally important to verify the credentials of any contractor you are considering to hire. You can easily do this by calling YCCA and we are happy to confirm if the contractor is licensed and in good standing, the license issuance date, expiration date and complaint history on their record for the last 5 years. We can also confirm if the license has been suspended for any reason during the time period of the license being active.
There are three common classifications of contractors; licensed contractors, unlicensed contractors and the handyman exemption. Consumer awareness of these categories and understanding license classifications is of the utmost importance for your protection. As it is not possible to talk about all three of these classifications in one column, we will spread consumer awareness out over the next 3 weeks. Today we will highlight the handyman classification.
Anyone acting as a handyman is exempt from Arizona State recognized licensure, if the following criteria are met: Any person other than a licensed contractor engaging in any work or operation on one undertaking or project by one or more contracts, for which the aggregate contract price, including labor, materials and all other items, but excluding any electrical fixture or appliance that was designed by the manufacturer, that is unaltered, unchanged or unmodified by any person, that can be plugged into a common household electrical outlet utilizing a two pronged or three pronged electrical connector and that does not use any other form of energy, including natural gas, propane or other petroleum or gaseous fuel, to operate or is attached by a nail, screw or other fastening device to the frame or foundation of any residential structure, is less than one thousand dollars, ($1,000).
This exemption is not available to a person when the following applies: When the job requires a local building permit, even if the project is less than a $1,000. When the work or construction is part of a larger or major project and does not apply when the handyman uses any form of advertising to the public in which the person’s unlicensed status is disclosed by including the words “not a licensed contractor” on all of their advertising, contracts, business cards, etc. Additionally, the handyman exemption is not available to anyone who is holding a contractor’s license even if the handyman work being done is in a trade classification that is not allowed under the current scope of work for the license.
The law allows you to hire a handyman; however, the project scope of work must be $1000 or less. However, because they are not licensed, you have no protection through the State of Arizona in case they sting or cheat you or perform poor work. Just this week, a gentleman called, he had a contract with company ABC and the contract referenced a license number. The total amount of the contract was $1,100. Contractor ABC asked for $500 up front and has never been heard from since. In this particular case, this handyman is in violation of law and subject to complaint for unlicensed contracting, because the handyman wrote a contract in excess of $1,000. If the contract was under $1,000 and the handyman walked away with $500, never to return and complete the job or if there were several defects and issues on the work, no complaint can be accepted by the ROC (Registrar of Contractors). Arizona State Law requires that a contractor must be licensed if they perform work in excess of $1,000. Even though this is legal, we would advise that you obtain a written, signed contract that clearly details the expectations, including total construction costs. We also recommend that you never give a handyman a deposit, as that money is not protected.
In addition, as with any contractor you hire, it is important to confirm the handyman also has the proper insurance to protect you. Please confirm they have workers compensation converge and general liability. In the state of Arizona you cannot obtain a bond unless you have a contractor’s license. A bond is not insurance, however, a bond does act as a source of protection. In case the principal (the individual or the company) defaults on any requirement as detailed by the bond or even the law, then it is possible the bond amount can be forfeited to the party that incurred the problem. If you see a handyman that is advertising he is bonded, this means they are either a licensed contractor, so you should ask for their ROC license number or it possibly means they are saying they are bonded when in fact they are not.
The current economic conditions confronting the construction industry are quite simply the most dire since the Great Depression. It is imperative that when hiring a contractor it is your responsibility to be vigilant and do your due diligence. Licensing is not necessarily a measure of competence; however it certainly states a certain degree of professionalism and commitment to the industry. In these economic times, there are many individuals who try to hold themselves out as licensed contractors or handymen performing out of their scope of work. Many internet referral sources and marketing companies do not verify license status, they leave it up to the consumer to verify the legitimate issues before hiring or doing business. YCCA walks you through this verification and we will assist you. You can trust our reviews.