Nevada homeowners have protection when hiring licensed contractors

Any kind of home repair or renovation project, regardless of the size or service being performed, has the potential to not go as planned. For some of us, it comes down to plain bad luck, no matter how proactive or intuitive our efforts were to hire the right person, invest in the right materials or meet a specific deadline. Others, however, may reap the outcome of not properly vetting their contractor, failing to read the terms of their contract more closely or not having their questions and expectations addressed before the project began.

For any project, the Nevada State Contractors Board strongly encourages the use of licensed contractors because it affords individuals the opportunity to file complaints with the board’s offices up to four years from the date the work was performed. Additionally, licensed contractors have demonstrated their qualifications to the board — reference certificates detailing a minimum of four years of experience in the trade; passing scores on Nevada trade, business and law exams; and sufficient financial standing to support the monetary limit on their license — in addition to undergoing criminal background checks and meeting other statutory requirements.

Since its creation in 1941, the board has served as a public-protection agency charged with regulating the construction industry for the residential and commercial projects in an effort to safeguard the public’s health and welfare.

In addition to its efforts to combat and prosecute unlicensed contractors, the board offers the public a number of resources related to verifying a contractor’s license and general hiring tips. There is a complaint process for anyone dissatisfied with the workmanship of a project, the manner in which a contract was executed, matters involving money-owing disputes, or work being performed or solicited by unlicensed contractors.

Once a complaint against a licensed contractor is received, an investigation is initiated allowing the board to review all available documentation, visit the location where the work was performed and/or interview the parties involved to validate the concerns raised. When workmanship items are validated, the board orders a contractor to make the necessary repairs or corrections in accordance with industry standards and/or the terms of a contract.

In the majority of cases, the contractor will make the corrections per the board’s order and the complainant will be made whole again. Contractors who fail to satisfy the board’s order may face discipline. While these cases can be the result of general noncompliance with the board’s order, other cases may stem from contractors going out of business or having their license revoked during the four-year statute of limitations.

In 1999, a legislative solution to better protect and assist homeowners was introduced, and the Residential Recovery Fund was created. Paid into by licensed contractors who perform residential work, the Residential Recovery Fund can provide up to $35,000 in financial recourse to owners of a single-family residence, not to exceed $400,000 per claims against a single contractor.

The Residential Recovery Fund has awarded over 1,100 claims and paid out more than $11 million to homeowners. It has aided Nevada homeowners whose licensed contractor went out of business or whose license was revoked, as well as those who have sought civil judgments in court; they can seek recourse from the Recovery Fund within two years of receiving a judgment.

Contractors are required by law to provide information regarding the Residential Recovery Fund to homeowners upon entering into a contract with them. Owners have up to four years from the date the work was performed to file a claim with the Recovery Fund. All claims are considered by the Residential Recovery Fund Committee, and awards are approved or denied in an open meeting.

Margi A. Grein is the executive officer for the Nevada State Contractors Board.

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