On March 13, 2011, I blogged about the pitfalls of hiring an unlicensed contractor in Washington, whether it be in Seattle, Spokane, Vancouver, or anywhere in between. This blog snippet is meant to further emphasize and remind property owners of the importance of protecting yourself in advance through various self-help research methods discussed in my prior blog. I cannot emphasize enough that the unlicensed contractor problem is real. It exists whether the economy is good or not, though common sense dictates that the unlicensed contractor problem in Washington, or Oregon or any state for that matter, is even worse when the economy falters. In fact, the Washington Department of Labor & Industries recently issued a reminder warning to consumers about this very problem, urging consumers to only hire registered contractors.
Although the WA L&I is in place to protect the public from unlicensed and incompetent contractors, its warnings about unlicensed contractors are not enough to solve the unlicensed contractor problem. Nor can the limited number of L&I investigators find and stop all of the unlicensed contractors, who as a group, in general, are very adept at covering their tracks and remaining "judgment proof" by placing assets in other people's names, and otherwise eluding the law. It's up to you to protect yourself from the pitfalls so many others have faced, including those featured recently in a story by Seattle's KIRO-7 news.
For those of you in Oregon, the problem is not unique to Washington. Oregon's government agency counterpart to L&I is the Construction Contractor's Board (CCB), and it too is battling the unlicensed contractor problem, including conducting stings to catch unlicensed contractors, as illustrated in a recent story by Northwest Cable News.
If you are ever in doubt, your gut feeling may be telling you something. Do your homework by using the various research methods discussed in my prior blog, and/or seek the assistance of a construction law firm like Slinde Nelson.