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What Are Kentucky Contractors?

The Kentucky Department of Professional Licensing (DPL), through 24 licensing boards, offers state-level licensure to various professionals in the state. Independent licensing boards such as the Kentucky Board of Architects and the Kentucky Board of Engineers and Land Surveyors also license architects and engineers in the state respectively. Similarly, the Kentucky Bar Association is saddled with regulating over 18,900 licensed attorneys in the state. However, the licensing and regulation of building and construction-related contractors is mostly handled at the local government level in Kentucky.

Kentucky contractors are persons, businesses, and corporations that offer improvement and repair services for residential properties in the state. In Kentucky, the Kentucky Department of Housing, Building, and Construction (DHBC) issues state-level contractor licenses to electrical, plumbing, boiler, elevator, manufactured homes, fire prevention, and HVAC contractors. Other categories of home improvement contractors obtain occupational licenses from Individual cities and towns. Licensure requirements for these professionals include verifiable years of work experience, professional examination, an application fee, and proof of liability insurance.

Tips for Hiring a Contractor in
Kentucky

Homeowners will typically need the services of home improvement contractors to make repairs, structural alterations, and improvements to their residential structures. Unfortunately, not all contractors are qualified enough to execute these projects. Improper execution of home repair or improvement projects may not only compromise the structural integrity of the homes in question but also deprives homeowners of the monetary value expended in carrying out these repairs and improvements. In many cases, the homeowners end up spending more money to have the job done properly a second time. The absence of state-level licensure requirements further complicates the process of hiring qualified and reputable contractors.

As such, after you have decided the specific type of work your home needs and what category of contractor you need to hire, you should utilize the following tips to help you select a qualified, authorized, and experienced contractor for the job:

  • Ask for proof of state licensure from electrical, plumbing, HVAC, boiler, manufactured homes, fire prevention, and elevator contractors. The Department of Housing, Building, and Construction (DHBC) provides two verification mediums for the licenses it issues. One for elevator, fire prevention, and boiler contractors’ licenses, and another for the other category of its licensees. For other types of contractors who are not licensed by the state, make findings from your local building regulatory agency whether a license is required. If it is, make sure that the contractor has one and completely avoid contractors who misstate their license status.
  • Look for reputable contractors through sources such as friends, relatives, professional colleagues, home insurance agents. You can also utilize the Hire A Professional webpage of the Home Builders Association of Kentucky to find a contractor near you. This is advisable if you reside in an area that does not enforce contractor licensing.
  • Request to see proof of valid liability and workers’ compensation insurance coverages. Although all counties in Kentucky mandate only workers’ compensation insurance, reputable contractors will typically carry liability insurance that covers damages that may occur in executing the project. You can confirm the scope and validity of a contractor’s insurance coverage by reaching the insurance policy provider. You can also authenticate the contractor’s workers’ compensation insurance policy online.
  • Ask for at least three references for inquiries on the contractor, preferably from local past clients that you can easily reach out to. Some of the questions to ask these past clients include their overall satisfaction with the job, how well the contractor kept them in the loop as work progressed, how were project problems resolved, and their willingness to hire the contractor again. In addition to contractor-provided references, you can also use sources like Better Business Bureau and the Company Reports provided by the state’s Attorney General’s Office to find independent contractor reviews and complaints.
  • Set a project-progress schedule with which you will make payment. This will ensure that you will have only paid the contractor for the amount of work done, should the contractor be unable to complete the job or in the event of a service default.
  • Request that your contractor show you the building permits obtained for the project. You can confirm an authentic state-level permit online. Make efforts to verify a locally-issued permit from the relevant issuing authority.
  • Thoroughly assess your project before signing the final paycheck. Check whether the work has been done to your specification, whether all supplies have been paid for, whether the worksite has been cleaned up per your agreement, and whether you have taken possession of the relevant warranty contract document.

A majority of the homeowner-contractor problems that arise at the finish of a project are due to divergent expectations from both parties. You can avoid this problem by ensuring that you have a written and detailed project contract that contains the following information:

  • The contractor’s name, location, phone number, and license number
  • The homeowner’s name, location, and phone number
  • A detailed estimate of the project’s material and labor costs and the mutually agreed payment arrangement
  • A comprehensive description of what the project involves and the expected outcome
  • A statement of the starting date and expected completion date of the project
  • A clause stating that the contractor must seek your express approval before a change in any aspect of the project is made.
  • A clear statement of the type, size, quality, and other features of the materials to be used
  • A clause stating that the contractor must hold valid workers’ compensation and professional liability insurance policies
  • An agreement that the contractor must pull the required building permits
  • An understanding that all materials supplied will not carry a supplier lien
  • A statement of your right to cancel the project
  • An understanding regarding who will clean up the worksite

Make sure you understand each line of that contract before signing it. Hire an attorney if there is an aspect of the contract you do not understand. This attorney can also help you pick out contract clauses that may compromise your rights as a homeowner. Note that you have the right to cancel a signed contract within three business days if the contract was a result of a door-to-door home improvement services sale worth $25 or more or if it imposes a lien on your home. This cancellation must be done by sending a written notice to the business.

Finally, you should always attempt to resolve any issues that you have with a contractor amicably. However, if this approach fails, then you can contact either your local contractor licensing agency or the Department of Housing, Building, and Construction via (502) 573-0365 to find a solution. You can also contact the Consumer Protection Division of the Kentucky Attorney General’s Office on either (502) 696-5389 or (888) 432-9257, or mailing a completed consumer mediation request form to:

  • Office of Consumer Protection
  • 1024 Capital Center Drive
  • Suite 200
  • Frankfort, KY 40601

How to Search A Contractor's License in Kentucky?

Only electrical, plumbing, boiler, fire alarm and HVAC contractors require a state-issued license in Kentucky. This license is issued by the Department of Housing, Buildings, and Construction (HBC). To verify the license of any of these contractors, call the HBC office at (502) 573-0365.

Other general and specialty contractors in the state are licensed at the local municipalities. Therefore, to verify the license of these other contractors, contact your city or county licensing authority. For example, residents of the city of Bowling Green and Warren County, can search for an active contractor by visiting the County's Contractors Licensing Board webpage. Louisville residents will have to contact the Metro Department of Codes and Regulations to validate their contractors' licenses.

Typically, the penalty for operating without a license is severe and may include fine and jail time. In Kentucky, these penalties are determined by the appropriate licensing authority.

How Much Does a Contractor Charge in
Kentucky?

The type of your project, its scope, and size are factors that influence its total cost. Kentucky contractors typically charge hourly fees or a percentage of total cost of the project. This percentage usually ranges between 10% to 20%. The estimated hourly fee ranges for specific home improvement projects in Kentucky are given below:

Carpenters
$25 - $40
Concrete contractors
$25 - $45
Drywall installation/repair contractors
$25 - $50
Electricians
$30 - $60
Flooring contractors
$20 - $40
HVAC contractors
$25 - $45
Interior and exterior finishing contractors
$30 - $60
Landscaping contractors
$20 - $40
Masonry contractors
$25 - $40
Painters
$20 - $40
Plumbing contractors
$27 - $60
Roofing contractors
$30 - $50
Security installation contractors
$25 - $45
Siding installation/repair contractors
$55 - $90

Also, you may find that you need the services of a qualified attorney to study a contract’s fine print or even draft one for your project. Attorneys in Kentucky charge an average hourly fee between $50 - $150.

What Are Home Improvement
Scams in Kentucky?

Home improvement scams describe the dubious practices of deceptive and fraudulent contractors aimed at taking money from homeowners with the deliberate intention of offering them inferior services and materials, or in extreme cases, not doing the work at all and running off with the homeowner’s money. Unscrupulous contractors devise various schemes to perpetrate these acts. In 2020, the Consumer Sentinel Network (CSN) revealed that consumers reported over 52,000 home improvement scams in the year. In the same year, Kentucky also reported a total of 29,388 scams, including home repair and improvement, which resulted in financial losses running into over $15.5million.

Therefore, homeowners must take steps to protect themselves from falling victims to all kinds of home improvement scams and losing their hard-earned money. Some of these measures may include dealing only with locally recognized contractors that have long years of practice and clean reputations, paying for the project according to the level of progress, and entertaining bids from at least three contractors to prevent a lone contender from ripping you off.

As a homeowner, you should also take note of the following:

  • Be careful of low price quotes.
  • Verify business identities and seek reviews in person and online
  • Resist getting cajoled into paying a substantial part of the project cost upfront
  • Rebuff the pressure from home improvement services contractors and salespersons to get you to make on-the-spot decisions

The Kentucky Attorney General’s Office has launched a scam alert system through which it notifies residents of the state via text message and email alerts of the latest and trending scam tactics devised by fraudsters. Interested Kentuckians can sign up for the alerts online or send “KYOAG Scam” to “GOV-311 (468-311). Kentuckians can also report cases of scams to the state’s Attorney General’s Office online.

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What are Common Home Improvement Scams in Kentucky?

Having underscored the devastating impacts that home improvement scams can have on homeowners and steps to avoid them, it is essential to highlight some of the most common scamming tactics that dubious contractors use. This is essential to keep consumers informed and on the alert. Seniors are generally the most targeted population group by home improvement scammers due to the common knowledge that they are more likely to own their property, have a good credit record, and can not handle most housing repairs on their own.

The following are the most prevalent home improvement scams in Kentucky:

  • Door-To-Door Scams: This type of scam involves home improvement contractors and salespersons going about offering to use leftover materials from a neighborhood project for you. They will typically inform you that it is a one-day offer and pressure you to decide on the spot.
  • Fly-By-Night Scams: This category of scams involves a contractor trying to obtain as much money as possible from you under the guise of a home improvement project. They do this by either not working on your project at all despite receiving payment for it or by doing an incomplete job before disappearing with your money. Although no state law specifies the maximum down payment that may be made for a project, homeowners must still take care to only pay contractors gradually and in a manner that is commensurate with the level of progress on the project.
  • Contractor Finance loans: This scam involves contractors offering to arrange a credit facility for you if you claim that you do not have enough money to execute a particular project. If you agree to this, the contractor then goes ahead to secure a loan for you at a rate that is higher than the market lending rate. Because these contractors usually end up running off with the money In severe cases, you risk losing your home to a foreclosure if you either cannot or refuse to repay the loan fully.
  • Home Inspector scam: In this scam, an individual claiming to be a home inspector shows up at your door and suddenly discovers that your home needs urgent fixing. This imposter home inspector then offers to either fix the repairs for a fee or recommends a contractor for the project. In many cases, the recommended contractor is usually in on the scam.

In February 2019, the Kentucky Attorney General's Office announced that it had secured a 13-year jail sentence judgment against a roofing contractor that had taken over $268,000 from 36 victims for roofing contracts without either doing the job or refunding the money. That same year, this office also reported that it had received close to 400 home repair and improvement scam-related complaints over a period of two years from 25 of the state’s counties alone.

What are Disaster Scams in Kentucky?

Fires, storms, and floods are major disasters that leave residential properties damaged and in ruins when they occur. Homeowners are typically left devastated and desperate for help, breeding a fertile ground for repair and rebuilding scams to be perpetrated. Unscrupulous contractors are well aware that insurance companies generally pay affected homeowners their policy claims, and they attempt to take advantage of this situation by offering inferior building materials for high prices, a practice known as price gouging. The following tips can be helpful for you when hiring a home improvement contractor in the aftermath of a disaster:

  • Always deal with established and reputable firms referred by relatives, friends, and trusted colleagues
  • Ask for a written proposal and estimate from at least three contractors
  • Get local references and make sure they visit your home to assess the repair in person
  • Get a detailed project contract in writing
  • Make sure that you understand all the terms of a contract before signing it. It is generally recommended to get a qualified attorney to peruse contracts, especially for contracts involving large financial commitments.

In 2012, Kentucky passed a Storm Chaser Roofing Law to protect homeowners from dubious roofing contractors in times of disasters. The provisions of the law include:

  • A five-day grace period for consumers’ to cancel a roofing contract if they discover that their insurance policy will not cover part or all of the project’s cost.
  • A requirement for roofing contractors to provide homeowners with a phone number, a valid mailing address, and a notice to the homeowners’ right to cancel the contract
  • The debarment of roofing contractors from asking for a down payment until the five-day contract cancellation period has passed.
  • The prohibition of roofing contractors from paying for or rebating an insurance deductible
  • The restriction of the amount of discount, coupon, credit, and bonus that a roofing contractor may offer to below $100

The Kentucky Attorney General’s Office has also established a contractor registration program to stop storm-chasing contractors from preying on distraught disaster victims. However, the adoption of this program by local communities is voluntary, and county officials may contact the consumer protection hotline on 1-888-432-9257 in times of disaster for help on adopting the program in their communities. The program verifies contractors’ credentials and professional history and issues a certificate attesting to their qualification and approval.

Finally, the Kentucky Attorney General’s Office allows consumers to report cases of price gouging in the state. Consumers can also report scam incidents online.

What are Common Legal
Work Scams?

Legal scams involve attorneys or persons pretending to be providing legal services wrongfully taking possession of an individual’s assets through fraudulent means. The most common legal work scams perpetrated in Kentucky include:

  • Mismanaging and embezzling clients’ trust funds
  • Defrauding clients of their settlement claims in cases involving personal injury and insurance claims

Steps to take to forestall falling victim to a legal work scam include:

  • Hiring attorneys based on referrals from close associates, family members, and professional associations such as the Kentucky Bar Association (KBA). This reduces the chances of you working with unqualified attorneys. You can also check the suspension and disbarment status of Kentucky attorneys online.
  • Have a clear knowledge of what your attorney’s duties and responsibilities entail, and ask to be provided regular updates on your cases and accounts
  • Discuss with your attorneys any doubts that you may have about their decisions and actions. You can also seek a second opinion from trusted friends, family, or another qualified attorney. Do not hesitate to disengage an attorney if your doubts turn out to be true

The Supreme Court of Kentucky has a Clients’ Security Fund (CSF) that was instituted to compensate consumers who fall victim to attorney scams by their retained attorneys. Victims of these scams that wish to access this fund must file for a claim not later than two years after the incident in question occurred. Kentuckians can also file complaints against unethical attorneys with the Kentucky Bar Association’s Office of the Bar Counsel.

How Long Does it Take to Get a License in
Kentucky?

There is no specified timeframe for obtaining state-level or local-level contractor licenses in Kentucky. The processing time for license applications typically depends on the type of application, the licensing authority responsible for issuing this license, and the volume of applications that are currently being processed by this authority.

How to Maintain your License in Kentucky

Holders of contractor licenses in the state of Kentucky must complete and present proof of continuing education to the Department of Housing, Building, and Construction. This continuing education requirement must be met within the year before license expiration. Contractors are also allowed to take more than the minimum required credit hours for their specialty.

Kentucky attorneys can change their business addresses and other personal information online by signing in to their professional profile and making the necessary edit. Alternatively, attorneys can download and complete a change of address form and mail it to the KBA’s office at:

  • 514 West Main Street
  • Frankfort, KY 40601-1812
  • Phone: (502) 564-3795

In line with the provision of Kentucky's Supreme Court Rule (SCR) 3.645, licensed and active attorneys in the state are required to complete 12 credit hours of approved Continued Legal Education (CLE) by June 30 of every educational year. Two of these hours must be in ethics, professional responsibility, and professionalism. Attorneys must also notify the Director for Continuing Legal Education (CLE) of their completion and certification of the approved CLE activities by August 10 of the year succeeding that in which the CLE activities were completed.

How to Renew Contractor License in
Kentucky

Contractor licenses in the state of Kentucky expire on the last day of license holders’ birth month. The Department of Housing, Building, and Construction will usually send a notice of license expiration to respective license holders 30 days ahead of this date. The process of renewing a state-issued contractor license involves submitting the relevant license application/renewal form along with a renewal fee and completing the continuing education requirements.

Alternatively, the requirements for renewing local-level contractor licenses are determined by the local government authorities. Contractors who wish to renew their locally issued licenses may do so by contacting the local government agency responsible for licensing and regulating their trade specialty.

Attorneys in Kentucky also have to pay an annual membership due, determined by the length of active membership. Attorneys who have practiced for longer typically pay more as membership due. Members of the Kentucky Bar Association (KBA) can complete membership dues online via their respective profiles on the KBA’s official website with a credit card or write a check payable to the “Kentucky Bar Association.”

Cities in Kentucky