Pro Tip: Always hire licensed contractors | Nevada State Contractors Board
Did you know it is against the law to contract in the state of Nevada without a contractor’s license? Did you also know that homeowners forego many of their rights when they contract with an unlicensed contractor?
That’s why Nevada State Contractors Board (NSCB) recommends homeowners hire only licensed contractors. Licensed contractors have passed trade and law exams, have demonstrated financial responsibility, carry workman’s compensation insurance and are bonded.
NSCB is committed to promoting public confidence and trust in the competence and integrity of licensees and to protect the health, safety and welfare of the public. They do this by making sure the board is empowered with determining the qualifications of applicants prior to licensing. The board sets forth conditions for licenses, such as limiting the field and scope of the operations of a licensed contractor, bond requirements and establishing maximum contractual limits.
The board is also empowered to implement and enforce the enabling statute, NRS 624, and to discipline licensees found in violation of this statute. If the contractor you hire fails to live up to the terms of the contract or performs substandard work, you have a right to file a complaint with the board who will investigate your concerns and order the contractor to correct any validated issues.
One of the greatest protections when hiring a licensed contractor is access to the board’s Residential Recovery Fund. Only homeowners who hire licensed contractors may be eligible for this fund, which awards up to $35,000 in financial recourse for damages incurred up to four years after a project is performed. Unfortunately, those that hire unlicensed contractors are not afforded this protection, and are often left seeking financial recourse through civil litigation, which can be a costly endeavor. Because the board only has jurisdiction over licensed contractors, it cannot order unlicensed individuals to repair or correct workmanship issues — another reason to only hire licensed contractors!
When it is time to hire a contractor for home repair or maintenance work, protect yourself by following these guidelines:
Ask for and verify the contractor’s license on NSCB’s website, http://www.nscb.nv.gov. The site notes the license’s status and any disciplinary action the Board has taken against the contractor.
Obtain at least three bids before signing any contracts. Obtain and follow up on references from each before making your decision.
Ensure the contract is detailed, down to the color of the paint, number and size of tiles, types and number of plants on landscaping projects, etc. Documentation is what the board will reference to hold the contractor accountable. Take time to go over and include every detail of importance to you in your contract.
Demand a payment schedule be included in the contract. Pay for the work as it is completed. Limit down payments to 10 percent of the total project cost or $1,000, whichever is less. Avoid paying large down payments, even if being asked to pay for materials up front.
Pay with credit or check rather than cash. Also, always obtain receipts for payments made for your records.
If something goes wrong with a project — a payment dispute or workmanship issue, for example — contact NSCB or fill out a complaint form online. Homeowners have four years from the time they sign the contract to file a complaint against licensed contractors.
Upon receipt of a complaint, the board will open its investigation, perform a site visit to validate any workmanship issues, and then order the contractor to make any repairs necessary within a certain timeframe. Failure to satisfy the board’s order could lead to disciplinary action being taken against the licensee and possible recourse for the homeowner through the Recovery Fund.
Homeowners may also file complaints against unlicensed contractors up to two years after the work was performed. Anyone with information on unlicensed contracting activities, solicitations, or advertisements is encouraged to call NSCB’s Unlicensed Contractor Hotline at 702-486-1160 or 775-850-7838.
For more information about the Nevada State Contractors Board and the Recovery Fund, visit them online http://www.nscb.nv.gov.
Heather Ashbridge, who started with Nevada State Development Corporation in 2008, previously served in several roles with the organization, including assistant vice president and loan officer. She is based in NSDC’s Reno office.