Hiring a Licensed Building Contractor

(Last Updated On: January 24, 2017)

It is important to hire a licensed building contractor when you are renovating or building new construction.

In 2011, the Virginia Code requires a building contractor who performs or manages construction, removal, repair, or improvements on a single contract of $1,000.00 but less than $10,000.00 or the total value of such construction, removal, repair, or improvements undertaken by the contractor within any twelve month period is less than $150,000.00 to obtain a Class C contractor’s license.

In 2011, a contractor who performs or manages construction, removal, repair, or improvements when the total value referred to in a single contract or project is $10,000.00 or more, but less than $120,000.00 or the total value of such construction, removal, repair, or improvements undertaken by the contractor within a twelve month period is $150,000.00 or more, but less than $750,000.00 to obtain a Class B contractor’s license.

In 2011, a contractor who performs or manages construction, removal, repair, or improvements when the total value referred to in a single contract or project is $120,000.00 or more or the total value of such construction, removal, repair, or improvements undertaken by such person within any twelve month period is $750,000.00 or more must obtain a Class A contractor’s license. You can confirm whether or not your potential building contractor is licensed with the Commonwealth of Virginia by checking with the Commonwealth of Virginia, Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation. The Department’s website is www.dpor.virginia.gov.  On that website, you can check for the contractor’s license and check for any disciplinary actions against the contractor administered by the Virginia Board of Contractors.

Any professional and reputable contractor should provide you with a legible written contract that includes at least the following:

A general description of the work to be performed;
A fixed price or estimate of the total cost of the work, the amounts and schedule of progress payments, a listing of specific materials requested by the contracting party, and the amount of down payment;
Estimates of the time of commencement and completion of the work;
The contractor’s name, address, office telephone number, and license or certification;
A statement of assurance that the contractor will comply with all local requirements for building permits, inspections, and zoning;
A disclosure of the cancelation rights of the parties; and
A statement providing that any modification to the contract, which changes the costs, materials, work to be performed, or estimated completion date, must be in writing and signed by all the parties.   A copy of the written contract should be promptly given to you.

If the contractor fails to perform under the contract, and that failure is unjustified, you may be entitled to file a complaint with the Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation and possibly make a claim against the Virginia Contractor Transaction Recovery Fund. If you experience sufficient problems with the contractor’s work or the contractor has breached his contract, you may want to consult an attorney before filing a complaint.  An attorney can assist you in properly documenting and filing the complaint.

As the old saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound a cure. Your time spent investigating your potential contractor may save you from many future headaches.  If your renovation or construction is of a significant dollar value, your ounce of prevention may be consulting an attorney to help you review or draft your contract with the contractor.  Defective renovation or construction can sometimes lead to long drawn out repairs and a lot of frustration. You can try to limit that possibility by spending some time investigating and using information from the Commonwealth of Virginia, Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation and consulting an attorney.

Also available at The Roanoke Star Sentinel