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Homeowners are protected when they hire a licensed contractor

There are many decisions involved when preparing to start a construction-related project on your home; the most important is determining who will perform the work. With several options available, it can be challenging to know which contractor is best to oversee your needs.

Although there is never a guarantee on how a project will unfold, the homeowner can increase the odds of finding a reputable contractor by asking people they trust for referrals, verifying a contractor has an active license on the Nevada State Contractors Board’s website and obtaining at least three bids to evaluate the costs and extent of work required for a home repair or remodeling project.

These steps help homeowners make more informed decisions when determining the licensed contractor that best meets their budgetary and construction-related needs. What many do not realize is that hiring a licensed contractor allows an individual up to four years from the date work is performed to file a complaint with the Nevada State Contractors Board.

The Contractors Board is a public protection agency responsible for regulating all licensed contractors, which includes holding them accountable to contract terms, ensuring work performed is within industry standards and enforcing the state’s construction laws and regulations.

The complaint process ensures the board investigates owners’ concerns over their construction projects. Board investigations may include, but are not limited to, allegations of poor workmanship, a contractor’s failure to complete the terms of a contract and project abandonment. Although workmanship accounts for the majority of complaints filed against licensed contractors, the board also investigates money-owing concerns, violations of industry regulations, allegations of construction fraud and complaints against unlicensed contractors.

The board investigates every complaint it receives to determine the validity of the alleged violations. When the board validates issues, it may order the contractor to remedy the situation. Failure to comply with the order may subject the contractor to more formal disciplinary action against the license — up to and including revocation of the license.

Owners whose homes are damaged or who suffer financial loss as a result of the actions of a licensed contractor may be eligible for the Residential Recovery Fund.

In the late 1990s, the Contractors Board worked with Assemblywoman Barbara Buckley on viable solutions for homeowners who were left with damages not remedied by a licensed contractor through the board’s investigative process. At that time, the only assistance available was through civil litigation, which is a time-consuming and costly process for harmed homeowners.

Introduced as Assembly Bill 636 during the 1999 legislative session, the Residential Recovery Fund received unanimous support from both houses and was signed into law by Gov. Kenny Guinn. The fund provides financial assistance to owners of single-family residences whose primary residences incurred damages by licensed contractors.

Since the first claim was received in 2001, more than 1,800 claims have been filed with the Residential Recovery Fund, and more than $12 million has been awarded to homeowners with validated damages. During the 2019 legislative session, the NSCB successfully advocated to increase the award amounts from $35,000 to $40,000 for individual claims and increase the payout for multiple claims against a single contractor from $400,000 to $750,000 or 20 percent of the Recovery Fund Balance, whichever is less.

The Recovery Fund provides another avenue of recourse homeowners can pursue through the NSCB when the investigative process is unable to resolve legitimate concerns. The fund has been instrumental in assisting seniors who have invested their life savings into projects that were abandoned, young couples who learned difficult lessons as they renovated their first home and respected professionals who were taken advantage of.

Whatever construction project may lie ahead, the NSCB always recommends verifying and hiring a licensed Nevada contractor. Doing so enhances the options available to consumers through the NSCB and may help bring resolution to situations that may not be possible when hiring an unlicensed individual.

Margi Grein is an executive officer of the Nevada State Contractors Board. View valuable resources on the NSCB’s website at nscb.nv.gov or call 702-486-1100 or 775-688-1141.

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