The Unlicensed Contractor Crisis

Did you know that the majority of specialty trade companies, i.e., tile installers, carpet installers, masons/brick repair guys, painters and all around handymen are breaking the law everyday in Virginia?  Most of them know it, but they don’t care.  They not do care enough about their business’ to spend the time to prove to (DPOR) the Department of Professional & Occupational Regulation’s and the State Contractor’s Board that they are qualified to provide the service in which they’ve been hired to perform.  In order to get a Class A (most difficult) B, or C license requires time, a little money for testing and a renewal fee every few years.  It’s a small price to pay to make sure you are providing the ethical and professional experience customers deserve.  When you think about it, it’s a work ethic and character issue.  If a person doesn’t have the character and integrity to do what it takes as required by the Law, how do you think they will handle a tough situation on the job site?  As a Class A Virginia Contractor’s we are obligated to adhere to follow many restrictions, regulations, rules and laws governed and mandated by the Virginia State Contractor’s Board, these are all referred to as Codes which come with their own corresponding number defining each one.  This not only applies to Class A Contractors, it also applies to Contractors holding a B or a C license as well.  The Code of Virginia 54.1-1100 says that certain activities related to the construction, repair or renovation of real property require a contractors license.  Virginia Code 54.1-1100 defines a “Contractor” as follows:

 “Contractor” means any person, that for a fixed price, commission, fee, or percentage undertakes to bid upon, or accepts, or offers to accept, orders or contracts for performing, managing, or superintending in whole or in part, the construction, removal, repair or improvement of any building or structures permanently annexed to real property owned, controlled, or leased by him or another person or any other improvements to such real property.”

  “Specialty Services”  is the category when no other specific category has been given i.e., electrical, plumbing, mechanical.  The specialty services is the category where so many fail to be licensed because it is too easy to get away with it.  Specialty Services described here:  https://law.lis.virginia.gov/admincode/title18/agency50/chapter22/section30/

The Virginia Code for Contractors is not the only law being broken.  When a person providing a service to the public is not licensed as outlined above, they are in violation of the Virginia Consumer Protection Act, also a Class I Misdemeanor.  

Code of Virginia Consumer Protection Act § 54.1-1115

When hiring work to be performed in your home please do your due diligence.   Require licenses; City business licnese as well as State contractor license; Class A, B or C and proof of insurance.  If they have 2 or more employees they are required to carry Workers Compensation along with General Liability.  Everyone should have general liability regardless of employee status.  Also, require that the scope of work be in writing, detailed with a fixed total price, signed with an approximate start and finish date.

A common practice is for the person doing the work to keep the price under $1,000.00 because then the licensing requirement is waived which is the perfect situation to be able to abuse the system.  By offering a small discount to the customer if cash is paid, there is no tracking of income.  Buyer beware.

If you have any questions or comments on this issue please feel free to reach out and we will be more than happy to help you.

Cheers!


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Key Structures, LLC
Chesapeake, VA 23322
757-435-9459
Virginia General Contractors License #2705132708

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