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We’ve all heard about the horror stories of home remodeling and construction jobs where a licensed contractor wasn’t used. For that matter, there are still plenty of instances that can occur when a licensed contractor is used. By and far, the difference between the two is aplenty. Namely, licensed contractors are regulated by the State pursuant to Title 32, Chapter 10, of Arizona Revised Statutes, and the Arizona Registrar of Contractors (“ROC”).  Licensed contractors are required to:

  • Maintain that licensing
  • Provide ongoing background checks
  • Fill out and pass an experience verification
  • Get bonded and insured
  • Prove their identity

The goal of this licensing system is to protect the public health, safety, and welfare.  It also provides assurance to clients that contract with these professionals that they are not unscrupulous, unqualified, or financially irresponsible. At the same time, it creates accountability in a regulatory system. Aside from the regulatory aspects of the licensing scheme, home and business owners can contract these professionals knowing that basic due diligence has already been completed.  Of course, even the licensing schemes cannot provide absolute protection.

So, when it comes time to find the right licensed contractor in Arizona for your needs, there are a few simple tips we can offer to help you get the right match the first time around, thus reducing any chance of a potential legal issue in the aftermath.

Choosing the Right Licensed Contractor in Arizona

Contractors are licensed based on their education and verification of experience they provide as evidence. For example, you wouldn’t want a plumber doing your drywall; and you certainly wouldn’t want a drywaller doing your plumbing. In some cases, however, a plumber will be certified to repair the drywall after replacing a bad pipe, but they’ll certainly need to be licensed to do so and you will need to confirm that.

To better understand what type of work your contractor is licensed to legally perform in Arizona, you’ll want to use this quick reference guide, provided at: https://roc.az.gov/license-classifications. Contractors are limited to commercial, residential or both types of licenses, with certain license subtypes being restricted by the project bid.

It’s important that you request to see the contractor’s license and that you research its validity by conducting a contractor search at: https://roc.az.gov/contractor-search. Doing so will provide you with basic information about the contractor, including any complaints or lawsuits that were either made, dismissed or settled. This is invaluable information to have before contracting any job with your hard-earned money.

A licensed contractor must also be bonded and insured.  The bond amount necessary depends in part on the type of license held by the contractor and the extent of contemplated gross volume of business.  It is crucial you verify the existence and amount of a bond held for a contractor’s license prior to engaging that contractor for work.  Should a dispute arise with the adequacy or scope of the work performed, the contractor’s bond will be a primary source of recovery.  More information on bonding requirements by the ROC can be found at: https://roc.az.gov/bond-information

Get it All in Writing

It’s imperative that you get everything you want done for your contract in writing. After all, without a contract in hand, it’s your word against theirs, should things come to that. Make sure the contractor specifies every aspect of the job and its associated cost, labor cost and material cost. Most importantly, consider having an experienced attorney review the proposed contractor to ensure the adequacy of its material provisions.

Take things a step further by asking the contractor to give a delivery estimate for time of completion on the project. What’s more, most licensed contractors offer some form of an express workmanship warranty that protects you against construction defects and bad workmanship. Always ask for a signed copy of this important document as well to accompanying the files you already have from the contract in advance of them performing the work. Of course, implied in every construction contract in Arizona by law is the implied warranties of good workmanship—that the contractor will perform in a workmanlike manner.  This warranty exists even if the contract itself does not contain any express warranties of workmanship.

Finally, agree on a payment schedule; most contractors request half upfront and the other half upon completion. This can be a simple and fair system that ensures both parties’ interests are protected until the last nail has been hammered in.  Consider adding a dispute resolution provision, setting forth in detail how completion will be determined for purposes of making a final payment.  Failure to explicitly address these issues in the contract may result in a default statutory payment schedule that you did not contemplate.

MacQueen and Gottlieb has extensive experience with consumer rights and pursuing construction defects in Arizona. Our highly experienced team of Phoenix real estate attorneys is prepared to help you defend your interests. Contact us today at 602-726-2229 to schedule an initial consultation or make an appointment online.

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