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What Are Colorado Contractors?

Colorado provides statewide professional and occupational licensing and regulation for more than 500,000 licenses across over 50 professions through its Division of Professions and Occupations. These professions include architecture, landscape architecture, and land surveying. However, excluding plumbers and electricians, construction-related contractors in Colorado are typically licensed locally at their respective cities, counties, and municipalities by local government licensing agencies. These local agencies determine the eligibility of general contractors to offer services in their jurisdictions and set licensing requirements and procedures for them. Several types of contractor license classifications are issued by these local government licensing agencies, ranging from general contractor and general building licenses to specialty licenses like insulation and acoustical contractor licenses and fire protection contractor licenses.

Note that all contractors in Colorado are obliged to obtain a business license from the Colorado Secretary of State to be able to operate businesses and perform contracting services in the State. The process of obtaining a business license will require the contractors to provide certain documents, which include proof of valid business insurance and tax registration. Similarly, legal practitioners are required to be sworn in and obtain a license from the Colorado Supreme Court before practicing in the state. It is estimated that Colorado currently has more than 22,000 licensed attorneys and a population ratio of four attorneys to 1000 residents.

Tips for Hiring a Contractor
in Colorado

Home improvement and reconstructions are generally expensive to undertake. It is important to hire a qualified contractor for such costly projects. Here are several steps for consideration before hiring a contractor in Colorado:

  • Get a clear understanding of what the anticipated project requires.
  • Find out the type of contractor needed for the project.
  • Ensure you request bids from three or more contractors to make comparisons.
  • Request a minimum of three references from the contractor, preferably past clients within your locality. You can also carry out an online search to get reviews on the contractor.
  • Select a contractor that is properly licensed by the licensing agency responsible for your area of residence.
  • Hire a contractor that has workers’ compensation insurance.
  • Make sure that the contractor obtains the necessary permits required by the government for the project.
  • Put all expectations from the project and the contractor in writing
  • Ensure to fully understand the content of a contract agreement before signing. Getting an attorney to help review a contract agreement is always a good idea.
  • Be wary of contractors that demand you to pay the full contract sum or 50% as an initial project deposit. Although the state of Colorado does not have a law on what an initial project deposit should be, you should negotiate to ensure that you do not pay more than 10%-20% of the project’s total cost as an initial payment for the project. Ensure that you are satisfied with the level of the job done at every level before making further payment.
  • Ensure that payments are documented. Payments through methods like checks and credit or debit cards are advisable. Avoid cash payments and do not make full payments ahead of work.
  • Ensure to keep a proper record of documents relating to the contract, including payment receipts and agreements.
  • Ensure that full payment for the contract is only made after the contract is executed to satisfaction.

How to Search A Contractor's License in Colorado?

All contractors in Colorado, except plumbing and electrical contractors, are licensed at municipality level. To verify if your contractor's license is still active, contact the local government in your city or town. For example, Denver residents can check a local contractor license through the city's Community Planning and Development department Verify a Contractor's License webpage. For residents of El Paso County; the cities of Colorado Springs, Fountain, Manitou Springs and Woodland Park; the towns of Green Mountain Falls, Monument and Palmer Lake; they can verify a contractor license on the Pikes Peak Regional Building Department website.

However, if you have hired a plumber or electrician in Colorado, you can check the professional's license using the Verify a Colorado Professional or Business License page on the Department of Regulatory Agencies website. It is a Class 2 misdemeanor to perform plumbing or electrical work in the state without a license. This is punishable by a jail time of up to 12 months and a fine between $250 and $1,000. Any subsequent offense is categorized as a Class 6 felony. To confirm fines and penalties for other unlicensed contractors working in municipalities contact the local licensing authority.

How Much Does a Contractor Charge in
Colorado?

Several factors determine the cost of hiring a contractor in Colorado. The type of project, the size of the project, the types and number of labor required to complete the project. General contractors in Colorado charge an average of $15 - $20 per hour. Some common hourly estimates of what contractors charge is stated below:

Electricians
$30.00
Flooring contractors
$20.00
HVAC contractors
$26.00
Painters
$30.00
Masonry contractors
$24.00
Roofing contractors
$46.00
Plumbing contractors
$27.00
Landscaping contractors
$38.00
Carpenters
$27.00
Interior and exterior finishing contractors
$35.00
Concrete contractors
$27.00
Security installation contractors
$25.00
Maid services contractors
$16.00

You may need the service of an attorney during the course of your home improvement projects or services other than home improvement projects. The average cost of hiring an attorney in Colorado ranges between $35 and $100 per hour.

What Are Home Improvement
Scams in Colorado?

The performance of a hired home improvement contractor on a job is not always predictable. A contractor may commence a job and not complete it, or they may not do it to the satisfaction of the hirer even after collecting full payment for the contract. There are also instances where contractors leave the job unfinished or they collect payment and do not report for the job. They may also deliver a poor job that leaves you with no choice but to repeat the project. Instances like these are referred to as home improvement scams.

Instances of home improvement scams may be reduced by taking some precautions. You should hire a contractor that has been duly licensed by the municipal authorities and also possesses a state-issued business license and always ask for proof of these licenses. Also, query prospective contractors to ascertain that they are bonded and insured. This protects you from financial liabilities in cases of unforeseen accidents or unsatisfactory job delivery. Finally, you can never be too careful when it comes to protecting yourself against home improvement scams, and so you should consider engaging the services of an attorney to help review and interpret the contracts before you sign them.

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What are Common Home Improvement Scams in Colorado?

A number of methods are common to most home improvement scammers in Colorado. These include the roofing scam, which involves self-acclaimed representatives of roofing companies knocking on your door after a heavy snow, rain, or hail storm and requesting to carry out an inspection of your roof. After this inspection, they try to convince you that your roof is damaged but that the cost of the repairs will be paid by your insurance company. Another common method involves the scammer knocking on your door and claiming to have a special price for home repairs services.

The most frequent victims of these scams are elderly residents in different communities in the state. This is because these elder residents are generally more trusting and less critical of contractors. Therefore, it is important to understand the signs of these home improvement scams so as to be able to avoid falling victim to them. Some of the common signs of home improvements scammers in Colorado and ways that they can be avoided are:

  • Uninvited representatives and contractors: Do not entertain uninvited home improvement contractors who go from door to door proffering to carry out services especially at reduced prices. Most of the time, these types of contractors do a shoddy job, or simply collect money and abandon the project.
  • Pressure to make an immediate decision: Home improvement scammers are generally in a hurry to close a deal. They employ tactics to pressure a client to make decisions on the spot. A hirer should take their time to investigate if the contractor has the required license to do business and to offer the services required by the project. They should also compare the conditions and estimates offered by a contractor to those offered by other contractors.
  • Trivializing written agreements: Home improvement scammers generally prefer oral agreements. It will be of great advantage to you as a homeowner if the conditions of the service and expectations from the completion of a contract are put in writing. Be wary of a home improvement contractor who attempts to get evasive about documenting contract agreements.
  • Insistence on cash payment: Home improvement scammers usually prefer, and insist, on being paid in cash. Colorado does not have any law that puts a limit on how much may be paid as a down payment for contracts, and this allows home improvement scammers to try to collect as much money as they can. Negotiate with your contractor and ensure that you do not pay more than 10%-20% of the total project cost as a downpayment for the job. Further payments should be attached to the next milestones in the project, and that should be done after a satisfactory delivery of the parts earlier paid for. All payments should be by check or other documented bank procedures.
  • Scare tactics: It is common practice among home improvement scammers to create anxiety in their prospective clients. This is done to make the client overpay for the proposed contract service. One way scammers do this is by offering a free inspection and coming up with exaggerated reports of potential dangers. This will create anxiety and a willingness to meet any conditions the home improvement contractor proposes. Regardless of how scary a home repair need is explained to you, always ensure you take opinions and bids from a minimum of three contractors before choosing a contractor to do your job.

In a situation where you are already a victim of a Home Improvement Scam or you suspect a contractor to be a scammer. Get the identity of the contractor and file a complaint, or call the Consumer Protection Section of the Office of the Attorney General on (720) 508-6000. On August 22, 2019, the Attorney General announced the sentencing of a contractor who had solicited down payments worth over $250,000 for roofing repairs from 30 homeowners in Durango, Grand Junction, Montrose, and Summit Counties and used the funds for personal use. The contractor was sentenced to eight years in prison for felony theft, which is to be followed by ten years on economic crimes probation.

What are Disaster Scams in Colorado?

Disaster scams in Colorado are scams that are targeted at victims of home and property damages after a recent disaster. Some of the frequently experienced natural disasters in the state include wildfires, floods, winter storms, severe storms, tornadoes, landslides, and earthquakes. Persons who are recently affected by natural disasters in Colorado should be wary of deceitful individuals posing as competent contractors offering to repair damaged properties and facilities. Typical scams from these include price gouging and accepting contracts they are neither competent to do, or licensed to offer. Section 6-1-730 of the Colorado Revised Statutes prohibits price gouging during disaster periods and places a civil penalty for violators. Listed below are tips to help you avoid becoming the victim of a disaster scammer:

  • Do not take decisions in anxiety after an incidence of natural disaster
  • Take bids from not less than three different home improvement contractors. Hiring the first contractor that comes your way is not always the best decision.
  • Get referrals from trusted people especially family and friends about reputable home improvement contractors.
  • Do not hire home improvement contractors that go from door to door to seek clients.
  • Confirm the status of the license of prospective home improvement contractors before hiring. This can be done by verifying with the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies or by contacting the relevant local government licensing agency.
  • Ensure that the contract and all expectations from the completed job are properly written and documented.
  • Do not make payments in cash to home improvement contractors.
  • Ensure that the job is completed and that it meets up the expected standard from the project. Also, ensure that it is inspected by the local building authority before making the final payment.

Plumbers and electricians are the only contractors that require a state-level license to offer their services in Colorado. However, other types of contractors are generally required to be the local licensing agency in their counties, cities, or municipalities. Performing jobs without obtaining a necessary license in Colorado is a criminal offense. A first-time offender will be charged with a Class 2 misdemeanor which could attract a jail term of three months to twelve months or a fine between $250 and $1,000. A subsequent offense will warrant them being charged with a Class 6 felony which may warrant a penalty ranging from one-year imprisonment, $1,000 in fines, or both, to 18 months imprisonment, $100,000 in fines, or both. The Consumer Protection Section of the Office of the Attorney General makes provision for anyone that may have fallen victim to a disaster scam to file a complaint.

What are Common Legal
Work Scams in Colorado?

Legal work scams are dishonest attorney-related schemes designed with the intent of swindling unsuspecting individuals. These scams are carried out by either unethical attorneys or by scammers pretending to be attorneys. Some frequent types of legal work scams in Colorado include:

  • Asset Recovery Scam: In this type of scam, con artists, who are usually working with insiders in public institutions, get the names and contacts of past victims of fraud in Colorado. These con artists then pose as asset recovery companies offering to assist the victims to recover money lost in the initial fraud. Most of the time, the scammers target older consumers who had earlier fallen victim to fraudulent investment schemes, scam promotions, and other types of scams. These con artists may also offer to help investigate previous fraud incidents and provide legal services related to funds recovery, all for an upfront fee. However, after collecting this fee, these con artists usually fail to deliver on their promises, or they simply vanish. In many cases, the victims also discover that they could have completed these tasks on their own at no cost.
  • Jury Duty Scams: Jury duty scammers impersonate officers of the court, local police officers, or representatives of the local district attorney’s office. They call you to say you have failed to report for jury duty and that a warrant of arrest has been issued against you. Most persons instinctively reply that they never received a notice concerning that, then the caller starts to ask for personal identifying information. After obtaining these details the scammers go-ahead to tell you they can help clear the records if you pay a fine.

Tips to avoid falling victim to a Colorado legal work scam include:

  • Be wary of unsolicited telephone calls from asset recovery companies offering to help recover your lost investment.
  • Do your research about companies making requests for upfront fees from you to recover lost money. A lot of the time you may be able to do the same thing that they offer by yourself at no cost.
  • Be wary of asset recovery companies using high-pressure sales tactics, demanding you make a transaction secret or discouraging you from seeking advice from other sources before deciding.
  • Report suspicious calls or emails to the Colorado State Police, other law enforcement authorities, or to your local district attorney.
  • Suspected cases of legal work scams in Colorado may be reported to the Office of the Attorney General.

How Long Does it Take to Get a Contractor License in
Colorado?

The Colorado Department of Regulatory Agency processes licenses for Plumbers and Electricians in Colorado within 120 days. On the other hand, the time it takes to obtain a general contractor license and other trade-specific licenses in Colorado varies according to the municipal area where the contractor wishes to offer services to the public. The licensing agencies in the respective municipalities in Colorado give varying conditions to grant a contractor license. This is due to the local peculiarities applicable in the respective communities. For example, contractor license applications in Denver generally take 7-14 business days to process. Applicants may apply for their contractor license online or by sending an application form and other relevant documents by mail to:

  • Contractor Licensing
  • Community Planning and Development
  • 201 W. Colfax Avenue
  • Department 205
  • Denver, CO 80202

Applications can also be made in person by contacting the licensing office at:

  • Contractor Licensing Desk
  • Webb Municipal Building
  • 201 W. Colfax Avenue
  • 2nd floor
  • Denver, CO 80202.

How to Maintain Your License in Colorado

Contractor license holders are generally expected to maintain their bonds and worker’s compensation insurance in Colorado. Licensing Agencies may suspend a contractor license if they do not maintain or update necessary insurance and bond policies.

Contractors are also required to notify the respective licensing agencies that granted them their license of any changes in the information supplied when obtaining the license. For example, licensed plumbers and electricians in Colorado are to report changes in their registration information through the online licensing portal of the Division of Professional Occupations. They will need to log in with a User ID and password which can be set up on the portal. In Denver, contractors are to report changes in their registration information to the Denver Community Planning and Development office either by phone at (720) 865-2770 or by email using Contr.Licensing@denvergov.org. Contractors in El Paso County are to update their registration information by contacting the Pikes Peak Regional Building Department either via phone at (719) 327-2887 or online.

To maintain their licenses in Colorado, attorneys are required to fulfill the Mandatory Continuing Legal Education (MCLE) requirements. This involves the completion of 45 hours of credit every three years and seven hours of studies in ethics.

How to Renew a Contractor License in
Colorado

In Colorado, plumbing contractor licenses expire on the last day of February of odd-number years, while electrical contractor licenses typically require renewal every three years. Note that all existing electrical contractor licenses in the state are set to expire on September 30, 2023. Plumbing and electrical contractor licenses that are granted within 120 days of the general license expiry date will be issued a license bearing the next expiry date. The renewal of licenses issued by the Department of Regulatory Agency usually starts about six weeks before the license expiration date. Note that the Department of Regulatory Agencies does not send reminders for license renewal. However, contractors can view their licenses’ expiry date and complete the license renewal process via their online accounts.

On the other hand, the renewal conditions and requirements for locally issued licenses are determined by the agencies that issued them. For example, contractors in El Paso County can renew their license via the county’s Online Registration Application Page by inputting their I.D number and typing in their business phone number. Similarly, contractor licenses issued in the City of Denver are valid for three years and may be renewed online 30 days before their expiration dates. Contractors may renew their license online anytime before 30 days to the expiration date of the license. However, contractors who renew their licenses within 30 days of the license expiration date may only do so by completing the license renewal form and submitting it along with other required documents to the Denver Community Planning and Development Office. This can be done in person or via mail-in to:

  • Community Planning and Development
  • Contractor Licensing
  • 201 W. Colfax Avenue
  • Department 205
  • Denver, CO 80202

Attorneys in Colorado are licensed by the Colorado Supreme Court and they are required to pay annual registration fees to the Office of the Regulation Counsel to renew their licenses. The cost of these fees is typically calculated by the attorney’s status, age, and length of time that the attorney has practiced in the state. Renewal reminders are usually sent in the first week of January, and attorneys that fail to pay these dues by the end of February will be charged additional late renewal fees. However, if payment is not made by the end of April, then the attorney’s license may be suspended and can only be reinstated by the payment of a much higher reinstatement fee.