Don’t get ‘swept up’ in spring, summer home repair scams (opinion)
Special to the Nevada Appeal
Read more in Peak NV
This article first appeared in the Spring-Summer 2019 edition of Peak NV, a special magazine produced by the Sierra Nevada Media Group and its affiliated media organizations: Northern Nevada Business View, Nevada Appeal, Tahoe Tribune, The Record-Courier and Lahontan Valley News. Go to bit.ly/2uSD9w0 to read the full digital version, which published April 6. To learn more about upcoming editions of Peak NV, email Publisher Rob Galloway at email@example.com.
As spring home upkeep and repair season nears, online ads, bulletin-board posts and solicitations from unlicensed contractors interested in performing a variety of services on your home are likely to pop up just as quickly as the weeds in your yard.
The Nevada State Contractors Board warns everyone — especially older adults — to be on the lookout for unsolicited offers from door-to-door salesmen or other individuals advertising inexpensive services on Craigslist, Facebook, community newsletters or other related mediums.
It is always in homeowners’ best interest to hire licensed contractors for any work in or around their homes. Licensees have passed criminal and financial background checks; are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance; and have passed necessary trade and law exams demonstrating their competence and awareness of their responsibilities as licensees.
Referrals are always a great place to start, but it’s important to still verify a contractor is properly licensed, regardless of how great their work has been in the past. A contractor’s license contains five significant digits: 98765 or 0098765, and is not the same as a business license.
Ensure your contractor has an “active” license status with the Contractors Board using the Board’s mobile application, verifying the license number on the Board’s website, http://www.nscb.nv.gov, or by calling our office at 775-688-1141.
When licensed contractors are hired, homeowners receive protections, such as the ability to file a complaint with our office up to four years from the date the work was performed should any workmanship issues arise.
The Board investigates the complaint and may order your contractor to remedy the issues found to be valid. Owners of single-family residences may also be eligible to file a claim with the Board’s Residential Recovery Fund, which can afford owners up to $35,000 in financial recourse when damages are incurred.
Whether you are seeking assistance for a large or small home repair project, the Contractors Board discourages hiring unlicensed contractors due to the added risks and liabilities homeowners assume, including the likelihood that the unlicensed individual is not carrying workers’ compensation insurance.
Although the Board will investigate complaints into unlicensed contracting, these cases are sent to the local district attorney for criminal prosecution, which may or may not include an order for restitution. Most homeowners in this situation find themselves seeking recourse through civil litigation, and/or hiring a properly licensed contractor to make the necessary repairs.
Protecting yourself from construction related scams requires awareness of some of the main warning signs:
• “Today only” offers using excess material from a recently completed job in the neighborhood.
• Only accepts cash payments or offers discounted rates when using cash; requests a large down payment to purchase materials, and refuses to put the terms of your project in writing.
• High-pressure sales tactics that include “free inspections” or an insistence to enter your home, which can lead to crimes of theft or burglary.
• Claiming to be “licensed, bonded, and insured,” but only has a Nevada business license.
It is important to note that contractors must be licensed in Nevada — those living in communities along the state’s border may find themselves being solicited from out of state contractors. These contractors must obtain a Nevada contractor’s license in order for you to receive the full protections of the Board.
The Contractors Board is a FREE public resource, and we welcome the opportunity to serve you whether hiring a contractor, filing a complaint, or answering your construction-related questions. Please call us any time: 775-688-1141.
Margi Grein is Executive Officer of the Nevada State Contractors Board. Visit http://www.nvcontractorsboard.com to learn more.
“We did a lot of very, very difficult evaluation over a very, very short amount of time and just concluded that this was the right thing for the company at large.”