What Are Kansas Contractors?
Around 375 professions are issued state-level occupational licenses in Kansas by occupational regulatory boards. These include accountants, architects, and real estate appraisers. However, professionals that alter, repair, or replace residential property and provide other home improvement services in Kansas are typically not issued state-level occupational licenses. However, all corporations, limited liability companies (LLCs), and limited partnerships (LPs) engaged in home improvement services are required to obtain a business license through the Office of the Secretary of State.
Individual cities and counties set the requirements and conditions for obtaining contractor licenses across the state, and persons that are interested in getting a contractor license in Kansas must find out about the applicable conditions and requirements in their localities. Although specific licensing requirements differ across counties, requirements can include proof of training, education, qualifying examinations, licensing fees, liability and workers’ compensation insurance, and bonding.
Unlike contractors, the admission, licensing, and regulation of the over 10,000 attorneys in Kansas is handled at the state level by the Kansas Board of Law Examiners. Attorneys are instrumental in preparing and reviewing contract agreements and representing either homeowner or home improvement contractors during the arbitration.
Tips for Hiring a Contractor
A home improvement project may be one of the most significant financial undertakings for a homeowner aside from building or buying the house. Therefore, homeowners must exercise enough caution to ensure that they get the best services and avoid compromising the safety and comfort of their homes. The following are some essential tips for hiring the most capable hands for your home improvement projects:
- Consult the relevant professionals, such as architects and engineers, to determine what type of work your home needs and what category of contractors to be on the lookout for.
- Ask for local references from neighbors, relatives, and close friends who have undertaken a similar project in the past.
- Source for independent reviews on the internet on platforms like the Better Business Bureau and Google Business Reviews.
- Ensure that you assess at least three contractors before deciding on which to hire.
- Ask to see proof of licensure, and verify any document or information provided by checking with the relevant licensing authority.
- Check whether a business is duly registered with the Office of the Secretary of State, particularly for limited partnerships, corporations, and limited liability companies.
- Request proof of insurance and bonding. A relevant insurance policy must provide cover for you against financial liabilities that arise from property damages and physical injuries, while a good surety bond protects you from service defaults on the part of your contractor.
- Make sure that the contractor can obtain the local permit required for your job. Completely drop any contractor suggesting that a permit is not at all necessary, especially for works that involve altering your building’s physical structure.
- Verify the registration status of roofing contractors, as they are explicitly required to register with the state’s Attorney General, per the provisions of the Kansas Roofing Contractor Registration Act.
- Find out with your local regulatory agency if your county enforces “peddler’s licenses” for door-to-door salespersons and make sure that any door-to-door contractor that contacts you has one.
- Structure your payment for the project in a way that the contractor only receives payment for a job already done. That way, you would be minimizing your losses if the contractor suddenly stops working.
- Withhold the final paycheck until you have assessed, and are satisfied with, the quality of work done.
- Ensure to have your agreements with the contractor in the form of a written contract. The contract must also contain complete project information such as project schedule, total cost, warranties, payment schedule, means of payment, and expectations of the finished job.
- Hire a qualified attorney to review the fine prints of a ready-made contract or draw up one for you where necessary.
Another key aspect that you must pay attention to is project financing. If you intend to secure finance externally for your project, some home improvement contractors may offer you financing arrangements independently, or in collaboration with lending institutions. It would be wise if you took your time to compare the costs and benefits of getting the loan yourself against taking a financing arrangement from the contractor.
How to Search A Contractor's License in Kansas?
Contractors in Kansas are licensed at municipality level, only well drillers and asbestos abatement contractors require a state-issued license to practice in the state. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment administers licensing for well drillers and asbestos abatement contractors. You can contact one of the KDHE district and section offices to verify your well driller or asbestos contractor is licensed.
To verify the license of a general contractor or subcontractor in Kansas, contact your county or city clerk. For example, to verify contractors in Overland Park visit the Johnson County Licensed Contractor Search webpage, In Salina; contact the City Clerk's office, and in Wichita; contact the Sedgwick County Metropolitan Area Building and Construction Department. The penalty for contracting without a license in Kansas is determined by the relevant licensing authority.
How Much Does a Contractor Charge
The fee that contractors charge is mainly influenced by the type of project in question and its scale. Remodeling an entire house remodeling will likely require more hands, time, and money than refitting only a bathroom or kitchen. The average hourly rate for home improvement contractors in Kansas is between $25 - $75. For specific projects, the average hourly fee range is given below:
On the other hand, the average hourly wage for an attorney’s services in Kansas ranges between $40 and $80.
What Are Home Improvement Scams
The term “home improvement scams” describes the various dubious practices of home improvement contractors that involve taking payments from homeowners and in turn rendering poor services and using substandard materials. In more serious instances, the contractor fails to start the project after taking a substantial amount as a down payment. Home improvement projects remain one of the most costly investments that homeowners make on their residential properties. According to the Consumer Sentinel Network (CSN), consumers in Kansas reported more than 21,000 cases of fraud in 2020, including home improvement and repair scams. For this reason, homeowners must exercise great care and caution to avoid falling for their con tricks and tactics.
For the most part, some of the major tactics deployed by these mischievous contractors include:
- Quoting a price that is lower than industry standard as a tactic to get you to hire them or agree to a deal quickly.
- Offering you a guarantee period that is too long, to gain your trust and confidence.
- Attempting to persuade you into paying more than what can be regarded as a reasonable advance payment, such as asking for more than a third of the total cost or even the full cost.
- Trying to rush you into making a decision by claiming their offer will only last for the day.
- Telling you they have leftover materials from a neighborhood job which they would offer to use for your job at a considerable discount.
Hence, if you ever encounter a contractor trying to use any of the tactics above, do not deal with them. As a general precaution, avoid unbelievably low prices, take some time to think about an offer and do not decide on the spot, and complete payment only after you have assessed the finished work.
What are Common Home Improvement Scams in Kansas?
Home improvement scams continue to be a subject of regular consumer complaints, and it would be helpful if consumers can identify the different forms in which they come. When consumers know these different scams by their names and schemes, they will also be able to report them efficiently to the relevant authorities. Some of the most common types of home improvement scams in the state include:
- Door-to-door home improvement scams: Although not all door-to-door home improvement salespersons and contractors are out to cheat you, you must still exercise due diligence before agreeing to work with one. This type of scam will involve a contractor or salesperson visiting your home uninvited to market their services. Some of them may offer you too-good-to-be-real discounts on the excuse that they have some remnant materials from a recently completed job. You can scrutinize itinerant home improvement salespersons by asking for a peddler's license. Similarly, Kansas’ Cooling-Off Rule gives you up to three days to cancel door-to-door sale contracts worth $25 or above that took place in your residence or any other location apart from the permanent business address of the door-to-door salesperson.
- Roofing Scams: This involves roofing contractors scamming you out of your hard-earned money by taking payments for a roofing project without completing it. It could also involve using inferior roofing materials for the job, resulting in shortened home roofing’s lifespan. You can protect yourself against this type of scam by asking for an additional registration certificate as mandated by the Kansas Roofing Registration Act before signing any contract with a roofing contractor. These certificates can also be authenticated online.
- Fly-By-Night: Under this type of scam, a contractor persuades you into paying more than what is necessary to begin the project, usually a substantial amount of money. The contractor then proceeds to start the project for a while but later disappears with payment during the project. Even though Kansas does not have a law that governs making down payments for contracts, you can guard against down payment scams by ensuring that the down payment you make is just enough to kickstart the project. You should then make subsequent payments according to the level of progress on the project.
The majority of these scams are targeted at the older class of the population because they are not expected to exercise extra scrutiny and can easily be convinced. This is more so for seniors who live alone in owner-occupied residences.
The Consumer Protection Division of the Attorney General’s office allows consumers to lodge complaints about businesses online or via the Consumer Protection Hotlines on (800) 432-2310 or (785) 296-3751. In March 2021, the Kansas Attorney General’s office ordered a roofing contractor from Salina to pay restitution of over $8,300 to consumers. The contractor who had also violated the Kansas Roofing Registration Act (KRRA) was required to pay a fine of $110,000 as a result. The McPherson District Court also imposed a temporary ban on the contractor after this contractor failed to appear in court for the lawsuit filed by the state’s attorney general. In a similar case, the Shawnee County District Court imposed a permanent ban on a concrete contractor and also ordered this contractor to pay a fine of $100,000 and restitution of more than $13,500. The contractor had violated the state’s Consumer Protection Act by failing to honor a warranty on an entrance and driveway installation and also receiving payments without performing the work that was paid for.
Generally, it is advisable to exercise due diligence before hiring a home improvement contractor. This is because it is safer to avoid falling victim to a scam contractor than relying on the law to retrieve lost money. Some of these contractors may move out of the state after committing the scam, or may in fact be bankrupt and unable to pay restitution.
What are Disaster Scams in Kansas?
Disaster scams involve contractors’ use of unfair and deceptive tactics to cheat homeowners who want to execute a post-disaster repair on their properties. After a storm, fire, or flood disaster, homeowners are typically left traumatized and desperate for quick help. While homeowners who have valid homeowner insurance expect their insurance claims to cover repair costs, mischievous scammers are usually waiting to swoop in and defraud them of this money. Hence, even though homeowners will typically not be in the best state of mind after a disaster, it is still essential that they pay rapt attention and make well-informed decisions on who to hire and how much their repair work is worth.
Some of the practices of these dubious individuals include charging the homeowner for standard materials but using inferior ones, engaging in price gouging practices such as hiking service fees and material prices, pretending to be home inspectors in order to ‘enforce’ an urgent repair work, and fronting as affiliates of disaster management agencies in order to charge fake consultancy fees and collect sensitive personal information. Some helpful tips to avoid disaster scams include:
- Compare at least three proposals for your repair project and take the time to think over and consider each of these proposals.
- Ask to see proof of licensure issued by the city or county authorities.
- Ask for local references, then call or meet with these references to make detailed inquiries about a contractor. This is also a good opportunity to inspect their past projects.
- Seek a certificate of registration from roofing contractors. The Consumer Protection Division of the Office of the Attorney General makes it mandatory for roofing contractors to register with the Attorney General’s office. This is a measure aimed at protecting consumers from unqualified and unlicensed roofing contractors. Homeowners are also allowed to verify roofing contractors’ registration and report activities of unregistered roofing contractors in their areas.
- Ensure that you have a written contract containing details of the projects and agreements duly signed by both parties of the contract - you and the contractor.
Avoid making cash payments as much as possible. Use credit
cards or checks instead
Consumers can report disaster price gouging practices online or contact the hotlines of the Consumer Protection Division of the Kansas Attorney General’s Office on (800) 432-2310.
What are Common Legal
Legal work scams refer to cases of malpractice and fraudulent practices perpetrated by attorneys while representing a client. However, it is also possible for non-attorneys to perpetuate legal work scams by using fake contract documents or conspiring with a legal practitioner to prepare a fraudulent legal contract for business purposes. Homeowners usually have to employ the services of an attorney in one capacity or another, necessitating the need to take extra care in such a situation, as well as in any other circumstances that have to do with law-related matters. The following are some of the most common legal work scams to look out for in Kansas:
- Overcharging a client or deliberately prolonging matters in order to increase billable hours.
- Financial impropriety by attorneys. This includes mixing up clients’ funds with personal funds and using clients’ funds for personal purposes.
- Deliberately failing to inform a client about a case update such as a settlement offer to take over the offer fraudulently.
- Deliberately inserting fraudulent and compromising clauses in clients’ contracts and other legal documents.
- Gross disobedience to the clients’ wishes for personal monetary gains.
Even though victims of legal work scams can seek justice in a competent court of law, the process may be drawn out and resource-draining. Therefore, it is better to take precautionary steps when dealing in legal matters by:
- Hiring based on a referral from trusted friends, family, and associates. You can also use professional referral services such as the Kansas Bar Association’s (KBA) lawyer referral services. Note that although not all licensed attorneys in Kansas are members of the association, it is always better and more reassuring to hire someone who identifies with the local professional body.
- Conducting a background search about an attorney and a law firm before making the hire by searching the published attorney discipline cases of the Kansas State Judiciary.
- Search the Kansas Supreme Court attorney directory to confirm that an attorney is licensed to practice in the state.
- Ensure that you put a case update arrangement in place between you and your attorney, stating how frequently and through what means you would like to be updated about your case.
- Engage another qualified attorney when in doubt in order to validate the critical decisions your principal attorney makes.
The Lawyers Funds for Client Protection is targeted at compensating clients that have suffered monetary losses as a result of fraudulent practices at the hands of licensed Kansas State attorneys. However, there is a single-case claim limit of $125,000 and a single-attorney claim limit of $350,000. Consumers are allowed to file complaints against attorneys only in writing, accompanied by supporting evidence, to the Office of the Disciplinary Administrator at:
- Office of the Disciplinary Administrator
- 701 Jackson Street
- 1st floor
- Topeka, KS 66603
Consumers can also lodge reports of scams against non-attorneys by reporting directly to the Attorney General’s Office on (785) 296 6296 or the Consumer Protection Division of the Kansas Attorney General’s Office on (800) 432-2310.
How Long Does it Take to Get a License in
Because only local authorities issue contractor licenses in Kansas, the processing time for each license application varies and may be affected by the applicant’s location, the type of license being applied for, and the volume of license applications that are being processed at the time. As such, persons interested in obtaining contractor licenses in Kansas are advised to contact their local licensing authorities to find out the licensing procedure and also get an estimated processing time.
How to Maintain your License in Kansas
Contractor licenses are usually maintained by ensuring that all the information used in obtaining them is current. License holders will have to follow the maintenance guidelines laid down by their local licensing authorities. For example, in Johnson County, the Contractor Management System allows contractors to manage their profiles, register for classes, and print class certificates and transcripts. On the other hand, in order to make an address change in Topeka City, license holders must inform the Development Services Division. These contractors will have to pay a $10 return mail fee if a license renewal has already been returned.
Attorneys in the State of Kansas are allowed to swap their license status from “active” to “inactive” by using the request of change of status form and contacting the office of attorney registration for additional forms, fees, and directives at:
- Attorney Registration
- Kansas Judicial Center
- South West 10th Avenue
- Topeka, KS 66612-1507
To change information such as legal name, email address, residential/business address, and business or personal telephone numbers, attorneys will have to log on to their account on the attorney registration portal and modify the relevant information. Registered and active attorneys in Kansas are also required to complete a minimum of 12 hours of Continuing Legal Education, two hours of which must be in ethics and professionalism.
How to Renew Contractor License in
Contractor licenses usually require timely renewal to ensure that contractors continue to meet the qualification conditions. The various local contractor licensing authorities set different license renewal guidelines and requirements for license holders in their jurisdictions. Therefore, license holders should contact the relevant local licensing authority for instruction on license renewal. To renew a general contractor license in Sedgwick County, license holders will have to complete the contractor license application form duly signed by all concerned parties, attach certificates of liability insurance and workers’ compensation insurance and send by fax (316) 660-1840 or by mail to:
- Metropolitan Area Building and Construction Department (MABCD)
- 271 West 3rd
- Suite 101
- Wichita, KS 67202
On the other hand, Johnson County contractors can renew their licenses by using the Contractor Management System.
Kansas state attorneys are required to complete an annual registration by June 30 via the attorney registration portal. Note that there is a late registration fee of $150.