Last month we wrote about some of the potential liability construction businesses can avoid by hiring licensed contractors. We noted that it would be shortsighted for businesses to see hiring unlicensed contractors as a way to reduce project costs. But what happens when workers misrepresent their status as licensed contractors to persuade you to hire them? Unfortunately, some victims in Oregon are finding out the hard way.
Recently in Estacada, a homeowner was hoping to have her driveway repaved at a low price. A group of contractors came to her home and said they would do the work with leftover materials from a cancelled job. The contractors told her it would only cost $1,500. After they began the work, the contractors quickly increased the price of the job to nearly triple the amount. Ultimately, the homeowner paid $3,200 for the work- over double the price originally agreed to.
Though these workers will likely face criminal charges for their conduct, this and other homeowners and businesses victimized by unlicensed contractors likely have a long road before their money will be recouped. Additionally, the victims may themselves become liable if something were to happen on the property as a result of the work done.
According the Oregon Construction Contractors Board, however, this is all easily avoidable. The CCB notes there are a few simple things homeowners and construction businesses can remember to help them to avoid hiring unlicensed contractors. First, the CCB notes that licensed contractors will never show up at your house unannounced to make a bid. Typically, if you need a job done you must seek out the contractors yourself. Second, an extremely low price should always serve as a red flag. If the deal seems too good to be true, it probably is. Lastly, a homeowner or business should terminate the work immediately if prices begin to rise well passed those originally quoted.
Of course, even the most astute homeowners and businesses cannot always avoid being scammed by a convincing contractor. You should contact a construction law attorney if you suspect the contractors you've hired to be unlicensed.