Seventy-nine people were arrested in California in July for contracting without a license. The California Contractors State License Board conducted 13 undercover operations, leading to the arrest of 79 suspects, which included a convicted felon, a registered sex offender, and two suspects carrying drugs and drug paraphernalia. Rick Lopes, chief of public affairs for the license board, noted that some of the people they arrested “would never pass the criminal background check to get a license.” The goal of the operations, according to Lopes, was to get “a snapshot of the issue and let audiences know there's a real risk."
After reading this story in the Sacramento Bee, we thought about how close this issue hits to home. As much as we love Oregon, we realize that we’re not immune to the malpractices of unlicensed contractors. So, before you hire a general contractor, make sure do a little research. Licensed contractors are not only properly trained, but also undergo State background checks to ensure they have a criminal and drug free history. Remember: A contractor comes in to your home and has direct access to your family, so your confidence in their work ethic, trustworthiness, and skill level should be at the forefront of your hiring process.
Make sure the person/company has a Contractor’s License # displayed in all advertisements: All contractors are required to include their license number on advertisements, websites, and print materials. If you don’t see their license number, it’s likely they’re not following even the very basic rules.
Make sure they’re in good standing with the Oregon Construction Board: The Oregon Construction Board’s website can give you instant access to the contractor’s record, including the license status and information about any disciplinary orders.
Ensure they’re A+ rated & accredited by the Better Business Bureau: Make sure that there aren’t any unresolved complaints and/or reports of unethical work practices on the BBB website. A quick check can reveal a lot about a company’s quality of work and business practices.
Ask for Employment References: When you hire a company, it’s not common to check references. In the case of hiring a contractor, however, make sure to ask for references, and go check out some of the work they’ve done in the past, if possible.
Use your best judgment: If the price feels too good to be true, it probably is. The cost to have proper State Licensing, Workers Compensation, and other required insurances makes it difficult for licensed contractors to compete with unlicensed handymen. When you hire a licensed contractor, you may pay a little more upfront, but you’re much less likely to get ripped off, and you’ll get professional, quality work.
If you have questions about the general contractor licensing requirements, visit the Oregon Construction Board’s website at www.oregon.gov/ccb.