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What Are North Dakota Contractors?

There are currently over 10,600 licensed contractors in the State of North Dakota. The North Dakota Office of the Secretary of State is the agency responsible for the licensing and regulation of these contractors, and also the registration of specific businesses including home inspection companies, and professional employer organizations. Contractor licenses are issued in areas like painting, plumbing, security installations, and carpentering.

A contractor is an individual or business that is engaged in the construction, repair, demolition, or alteration of a home, building, or property. All contractors in North Dakota are required to obtain a state-issued license to be eligible to take up construction projects that are valued at $4,000 or more. Failure to obtain a contractor license before taking up such a construction project in the State is considered a misdemeanor. Note that plumbers, electricians, transient merchants, and asbestos abatement contractors are required to obtain a state-issued specialty license specific to their professions, regardless of the amount involved in any of the projects that they wish to undertake.

Contractors are not the only professionals that are licensed in North Dakota. Other professionals such as attorneys, doctors, and psychologists are licensed by the North Dakota Board of Law Examiners, the North Dakota Board of Medicine, and the North Dakota State Board of Psychologist Examiners respectively. It is estimated that North Dakota has approximately 2,983 licensed attorneys.

Tips for Hiring a Contractor
in North Dakota

Hiring the wrong person for a home improvement project can result in unpleasant situations such as loss of money and even court cases. As such, it is important to take necessary steps to ensure that the contractor you hire is properly suited for the job. Below are some useful tips to consider when hiring a contractor:

  • Take your time to research the project and what needs to be done
  • Be wary of contractors who use out of state phone numbers
  • Get recommendations from family and friends
  • Get bids accompanied by licenses from two to three contractors and ensure that you compare them
  • Request for references and follow them up
  • Ask for a contractor license and verify if the individual is licensed through the Licensed Contractor Search List
  • Always request a transient merchant license if the contractor is not from your local area. You can verify the information by checking the list of Licensed Transient Merchants in the state
  • Ask for proof of insurance coverage and verify the information by calling the insurance company
  • Get a written contract that describes the specific work to be done, and includes details of warranties or guarantees for the construction materials, as well as the contractor's business information and license number. You may consider hiring an attorney to handle the details of the contract
  • Do not give a down payment of more than one-third of the total cost of the project
  • Do not make full payment until the project is completed
  • Always request a receipt for each material that is purchased and each payment you make to the contractor

North Dakotans can report unscrupulous contractors to the state’s Office of Consumer Protection by calling (800) 472-2600. Construction fraud, failure to provide proof of contractor license, and failure to refund advance payment can also be reported by downloading, completing, printing, and sending a Complaint Against Contractor form via mail to the North Dakota Office of the Secretary of State. The form can be mailed to:

  • North Dakota Office of the Secretary of State
  • 600 E Boulevard Avenue
  • Department 108
  • Bismarck, ND 58505-0500

Note that this office does not attend to complaints related to the quality of work performed by a contractor. It is advisable to seek the advice of an attorney on how to handle such matters.

How to Search a Contractor’s License in North Dakota?

The North Dakota Secretary of State’s Office provides and maintains an online contractor search tool that you can use to access information on contractors in the state. You can make a quick search on the portal by the contractor’s name or license number.

Individuals that engage in construction and home improvement-related activities in North Dakota are required to obtain a license from the North Dakota Secretary of State’s Office before performing any contracting work that exceeds the sum of $4,000. Note that some contractors may be required to obtain additional specialty licenses or permits from other state agencies. These agencies include the North Dakota State Electrical Board, Department of Environmental Quality, and State Plumbing Board, which issue licenses to electrical, asbestos abatement, and plumbing contractors respectively.

Under Title 43 of the North Dakota Century Code, performing contracting work worth more than $4,000 without possessing a valid contractor’s license is a class A misdemeanor. Similarly, advertising for contracting work that requires a specialty license without possessing the required license or employing a duly licensed contractor to perform the job is a class B misdemeanor for the first occurrence and a class A misdemeanor for subsequent occurrences.

How Much Does a Contractor Charge in
North Dakota?

In North Dakota, the cost of hiring a contractor varies due to factors such as the amount of labor required to complete the job, the cost of materials, and the type of construction activity involved. The average estimated cost of hiring a contractor for an hour is between $16 - $70. Listed below are some of the hourly cost estimates for various contractors in North Dakota:

Drywall installation/ repair contractors
$21 - $45
Carpenter
$20 - $50
Plumber
$25 - $60
Electrician
$19 - $40
Painter
$16 - $30
Landscaping contractors
$15 - $40
Solar installer
$22 - $50
Concrete finisher
$22 - $40
Civil engineer
$37 - $70

In addition to these services, you may want to hire an attorney to handle your home improvement paperwork or perform other non-construction-related tasks. The average estimated cost of hiring an attorney in the State of North Dakota is $53 - $150 per hour.

What are Home Improvement
Scams in North Dakota?

When you are trying to hire someone for home improvement in North Dakota, there is always a chance that the contractor is a con artist trying to steal your money through deceptive methods such as:

  • Abandoning the project after a deposit of money or other considerations have been received
  • Diverting funds or materials slated for the project to other avenues
  • Deliberately slowing down the work to drive up labor costs
  • Deliberately using inferior materials that will require you to retain their services again soon

A home improvement scam is the use of any of the methods listed above to obtain money from unsuspecting citizens. While it is not possible to eliminate home improvement scams, you can avoid being a victim of one by taking precautionary steps. First, you must have a clear idea of the situation before deciding on hiring a contractor. This helps you determine if you need immediate repair and if you have enough money to take up the project. Also, you must always research the state regulations that apply to the contractor you want to hire. All contractors in North Dakota are required to obtain a state-issued license to be qualified to handle construction projects that are valued at $4,000 or more. Additionally, contractors making door-to-door solicitations must have a transient merchant license and a photo ID card issued by the Office of the North Dakota Attorney General. You must always ensure that the contractor is insured as this puts you in a better position to deal with unplanned outcomes such as accidents. Finally, do not sign an agreement except you fully understand its terms and conditions.

If you suspect a home improvement scam, report it to the North Dakota Office of Consumer Protection by calling (800) 472-2600.

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What are Common Home Improvement Scams in North Dakota?

Home improvement scammers are always eager to take advantage of unsuspecting citizens who are trying to fix a problem in their homes. Generally, these scams are targeted at elderly citizens and widows in the State. Common tactics used by Ji home improvement scammers include:

  • Door-to-door solicitation: scammers show up in front of your door offering home improvement services like painting, roofing, driveway repair, and tree trimming. In most cases, these unscrupulous individuals claim they just completed a job in your neighborhood and noticed you need repairs. Be wary of such persons, and request a transient merchant license from anyone offering you a contractor service via door-to-door solicitations.
  • Cheap rates: scammers often offer discounted rates to trick you into hiring them for home improvement work. When a contractor offers special pricing, ensure that you put it in writing along with a contract proposal that protects you from unforeseen circumstances such as failure to complete the job.
  • Fake guarantees: home improvement scammers always make bogus promises that are never fulfilled. Note that legitimate businesses do not make ridiculous promises.
  • Immediate service offers: home improvement scammers generally claim they are available and ready to handle your project. In some cases, they tell you that the project will kick off within the next 24 hours once an agreement is reached.
  • High-pressure sales tactics: home improvement scammers often use pressure tactics to trick you into paying for a repair that you do not need.
  • Asphalt paving scams: An asphalt paving crew may claim to have leftover materials from a job they just completed in your neighborhood and offer to fix your driveway at a discount. In many cases, the quality of materials used to do your job is inferior. These scammers often operate close to major highways and insist on cash payments.
  • Oil patch scams: in this scam, a group of construction scammers target residents in rural areas of oil-producing North Dakota counties. In many cases, they perform construction work without permission and use intimidation to make the victim pay for poor services.

North Dakota allows down payment for materials to be used in construction projects. Per state law, consumers may retain up to 10% of every estimate submitted by the contractor provided that the project is not halfway through being completed. This law does not apply to projects that have reached at least a 50% completion rate. If a homeowner invests the retained estimated funds, the interest from the investment is payable at the time of final payment to the contractor in whose name the money was retained. Note that North Dakotans have the right to negotiate alternative payment plans with contractors. You can speak with an attorney to help provide details of the alternative payment plan in the contract.

In 2019, the North Dakota Attorney General’s Office banned three contractors from conducting business after an investigation concluded that these contractors had violated the state’s contractor licensing and consumer fraud laws.

You can report a fraudulent contractor to the North Dakota Office of Consumer Protection by calling (800) 472-2600. You may also file a contractor complaint with the North Dakota Office of the Secretary of State by completing, printing, and mailing a Complaint Against Contractor Form to:

  • North Dakota Office of the Secretary of State
  • 600 E Boulevard Avenue
  • Department 108
  • Bismarck, ND 58505-0500

A complaint filed against a contractor may result in a suspension of the contractor’s license for up to sixty months or revocation of the license. Per state law, contractors that have had their licenses revoked may also be prohibited from reapplying for a new license for a period of up to five years. contractor’s license. Common unprofessional conducts that may lead to the suspension or revocation of contractor license in North Dakota include:

  • Failure to pay a supplier for materials that the homeowner already paid for
  • Diversion of materials bought in the name of a construction project
  • The use of deception to receive payment for a construction project
  • Deliberately abandoning a job after receiving payment
  • Failure to refund advance payment where the consumer has proof showing the contractor abandoned the project

What are Disaster Scams in North Dakota?

North Dakota scams are scams targeted at residents of North Dakota whose homes and properties were affected by a natural disaster. While trying to put their lives together after a disaster, members of the public should be wary of unscrupulous individuals that are looking for ways to steal money from them. These dishonest contractors often misrepresent their skill levels and business reputations to trick you into paying for home improvement and never return to get the job done. Contractor-related disaster scams include not showing up after receiving payment, diversion of materials, and price gouging. You can avoid disaster scams by doing the following:

  • Taking your time to find out more about the situation and what could be done
  • Getting recommendations on contractors from family and friends. You should also get and compare bids from more than one contractor
  • Being wary of door-to-door solicitors who refuse to show proof of transient merchant license
  • Requesting state licenses from anyone offering you disaster-related services
  • Never making cash payments for home repairs. You can inform your financial institution to make payment on your behalf

Members of the public can report disaster-related scams to the North Dakota Office of Consumer Protection by calling (800) 472-2600.

What are Common Legal
Scams in North Dakota?

North Dakota legal work scams are bogus attorney-related services that aim at stealing money from unsuspecting citizens. These scams may be done by unqualified, unlicensed persons or even attorneys that have been properly licensed by the North Dakota State Board of Law Examiners. Common legal work scams in North Dakota include:

  • Inheritance/beneficiary scams: where a supposed attorney informs you are entitled to an inheritance from a long-lost family member. In many cases, you are either asked to complete an official-looking document and pay an upfront fee, or provide personal information such as social security number and date of birth so you can be verified as the real beneficiary of this inheritance. Do not fall for any of these requests and always seek advice from a trusted attorney if you receive this type of call.
  • Imposter scams: where someone who is not an actual attorney tries to sell an attorney-related service to you. In many cases, scammers often misrepresent their skill levels to steal money from you.

Some ways you can avoid falling victim to legal work scams in North Dakota include:

  • Not responding to claims made during unsolicited calls
  • Taking your time to research offers before deciding on what to do
  • Requesting proof of attorney license and verify the information through the North Dakota Lawyers Directory Portal
  • Not hesitating to speak to family and friends about your intention to hire an attorney

Citizens of North Dakota should understand that attorneys in the state are bound by Rules of Professional Conduct and a violation of any of these rules qualifies as a legal work scam. If you suspect a legal work scam, report it by sending a written statement to the Office of the Disciplinary Counsel at:

  • North Dakota State Bar
  • Office of the Disciplinary Counsel
  • 125 Slate Drive
  • Suite 2
  • P.O. Box 2297
  • Bismarck, ND 58502-2297

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

The processing time for completing the license application process and obtaining a license in North Dakota is dependent on the current workload of the Office of the Secretary of State. Note that an application is usually denied if an applicant fails to provide all the requirements for obtaining a license. To apply for a contractor license in North Dakota, you must have registered your business name with the Secretary of State. Additionally, applicants are required to provide a certificate of insurance showing proof of liability coverage and a statement from Workforce Safety and Insurance (WSI) showing they are in good standing with the WSI. The application for a contractor license can be completed online through the FirstStop online portal or in person at:

  • North Dakota Office of the Secretary of State
  • Licensing Unit
  • 600 E Boulevard Avenue
  • Department 108
  • Bismarck, ND 58505-0500

Contractors that wish to apply for specialty licenses like plumbing, electrical, and asbestos abatement licenses can contact the relevant agencies to find out the length of time and requirements for obtaining these licenses. For example, electricians should contact the State Electrical Board, while plumbers should contact the State Plumbing Board.

How to Maintain Your License in North Dakota

North Dakota contractors are allowed to maintain or update the information on their licenses like changing their addresses, phone numbers, and emails through the FirstStop online portal. However, to change the name on a license certificate, contractors are required to submit a written notification in person to:

  • North Dakota Office of the Secretary of State
  • Licensing Unit
  • 600 E Boulevard Avenue
  • Department 108
  • Bismarck, ND 58505-0500

This should be submitted no later than 10 days after the change of name occurred. Note that licensees may only update the name on their license certificate if the new name is due to a change in marital status.

Attorneys in North Dakota are also allowed to update their information by sending an email stating the record that needs to be updated to the Board of Bar Examiners. Emails concerning contact information updates must contain the following information:

  • The attorney’s name
  • The attorney’s law firm
  • The attorney’s city, state, and zip code
  • The attorney’s fax address
  • The attorney’s phone number and email address
  • The attorney’s e-service address
  • The attorney’s North Dakota Bar ID number.

In North Dakota, an attorney is required to report changes in their names before they are allowed to add the new name to their license records. To report name changes due to marriage or any other reason, the attorney is required to notify the Board of Bar examiners or Clerk of the Supreme Court of their new name in writing. This notification must be submitted no later than 10 days after the name change occurred. To add the new name to your license records, you are required to send an email of a court order or marriage certificate showing your new name to the Board of Bar examiners. You should also include how your name should be reflected in the Board's record if it is not properly stated in the document you presented.

Finally, all attorneys in North Dakota are required to obtain a total of 45 hours of approved credit in continuing legal education every three years. These 45 hours must include three hours of ethics credit.

How to Renew a Contractor License in
North Dakota

North Dakota contractor licenses are valid for one year and renewal applications must be sent to the Secretary of State on or before March 1st, every year. Contractors can complete license renewals online via the FirstStop online portal, and they will be required to provide the following:

  • A list of projects, contracts, or subcontracts that are valued at $25,000 or more and were completed during the preceding calendar year
  • The nature of each project, contract, or subcontract on the aforementioned list
  • A certification showing the contractor has submitted all payroll taxes including North Dakota income tax, workers' compensation premiums, and unemployment insurance premium
  • A certificate of insurance indicating liability coverage

Renewal fees are dependent on the class of license that is being renewed and contractors can apply for renewal of a class of license different from the license that they used in the preceding year. Note that the Office of North Dakota Secretary of State can refuse to renew a license. This typically happens if it is discovered that the renewal application contains false, misleading, or incomplete information.

Finally, a North Dakota attorney license is valid for one year. Attorneys renew their license by paying the annual license fees to the North Dakota Board of Law Examiners. License renewal should be made on or before January first of each year. Note that payment can only be made by check or money order. Queries related to attorney license renewal can be directed to 701-328-4201.

Cities in North Dakota