What Are Nebraska Contractors?
The Nebraska Department of Labor (NDL) is the agency that oversees the licensing and regulation of over 45,000 contractors in the State of Nebraska. As defined by the Nebraska Contractor Registration Act, a contractor includes any person, entity, or business arrangement that engages in the business of constructing, repairing, altering, or demolishing any structure or real property including, but not limited to, roads, sewers, pipelines, bridges, and transmission lines. Per this act, all contractors must be registered and licensed before undertaking any construction project. However, homeowners improving their property by themselves and contractors that earn below $5,000 annually are exempt from this licensing.
Note that contractors are not the only professionals in Nebraska required to be licensed. Professionals like engineers and architects are required to be licensed by the State of Nebraska Board of Engineers and Architects while accountants are required to be licensed under the Nebraska Board of Public Accountancy. Similarly, the Supreme Court of Nebraska regulates the practice of law in Nebraska and oversees the licensing and discipline of attorneys in the state.
Tips for Hiring a Contractor
Home improvement and property projects can be simple like specific repairs and fixes or complex like a complete remodeling of the property. Regardless of the nature of the project, hiring a competent contractor is central to the success of the project. Below are some useful tips to take note of when hiring a contractor:
- Consider estimates from different contractors
- Discuss with friends and family members and ask them to refer a competent and trusted contractor. Also, assess any previous similar projects the referred contractor has undertaken and decide if the projects are good enough for you
- Ensure the contractor you pick is licensed. The NDL keeps a database of licensed contractors and you can verify a contractor’s license by using the NDL search contractor portal or contacting the NDL Contractor Registration Department by phone at (402) 471-2239
- Check the reputation of the contractor. You can do this through review-dedicated websites like Better Business Bureau or by asking the contractor to provide references from previous clients. You can further contact these previous clients of the contractor and ask about their overall experience with the contractor
- Figure out how long the contractor has been in business. Contractors with more years of practice typically have more experience
- Pay a reasonable fraction of the overall cost as a down payment. Even though Nebraska does not have a down payment law, you should not make large down payments and you should ideally pay any down payment after the delivery of initial materials
- Avoid cash payments as they are difficult to prove, trace, or recover. You should try to make all payments, including the down payment, in check
- Have a written agreement between you and your contractor detailing the expected outcome of the project and the contractor’s duties. The agreement should also contain a payment structure. It is ideal to hire an attorney to draft and oversee this agreement
- Maintain a decent record of the project. This includes the timeline of payments, receipts of payment, correspondences, any permits, and all documentation that relates to the project
- Do a background check of the contractor’s criminal record if you have suspicions about your safety or the contractor’s behavior
How to Search a Contractor’s License in Nebraska?
Per the Nebraska Contractor Registration Act, contractors that earn more than $5,000 annually are statutorily required to register with the state’s Department of Labor. This department provides an online search portal that can be used to authenticate the registration status of contractors that wish to provide their services to Nebraskans. Utilizing this portal will require you to provide one or more information on the contractor, such as the contractor’s name, corporation name, registration number, NAICS code, phone number, and location. You can also contact the Nebraska Department of Labor at (402) 471-2239 or via email to confirm the registration status of contractors or to make other contractor-related inquiries.
Note that in addition to state-level registration, electrical contractors are required to obtain state-issued occupational licenses from the Nebraska State Electrical Division. You can confirm that your electrical contractor has been duly licensed via this division’s electrician license search portal. Similarly, municipalities in Nebraska may have local licensing requirements for contractors that wish to work within their jurisdictions. As such, it is advisable to contact your local consumer protection agency to find out whether there are any existing licensing requirements for contractors in your locality and also to get assistance on authenticating these locally issued licenses.
As stated by Nebraska Revised Statute 48-2114, contractors that fail to register with the state’s Department of Labor can receive a fine of up to $500 for the first violation and up to $5,000 for subsequent violations.
How Much Does a Contractor Charge in
The financial cost of hiring a contractor in Nebraska largely depends on the nature of the project. Asides from being a major cost-determinant, the nature of the project also dictates how contractors charge for their services. Consequently, while painters typically charge per hour, flooring contractors charge by the area or size of the property where the job will be done. Notwithstanding the different methods contractors use in charging clients for services rendered, the average hourly charge for contractors in Nebraska is between $30 and $75. Accordingly, below are some contractors and their estimated fees:
When planning to execute a property project, it is ideal to hire an attorney’s services with regards to drafting agreements and giving advice on any important legal issue that may affect the project. The average hourly charge rate for attorneys in Nebraska is between $70 and $300.
What Are Home Improvement
Scams in Nebraska?
Home improvement scams encompass different fraudulent methods used by contractors and scammers to swindle and collect money from homeowners. These scams happen in different ways such as when the scammer absconds with payments for a project without performing the project or when a contractor partly performs a project and fails to complete it. It also includes instances when the contractor knowingly makes use of counterfeit materials or performs below agreed expectations. Home improvement scams are a recurrent problem in Nebraska, ranking in the top three consumer complaints made to the Nebraska Attorney General’s (AG) Office in 2020.
Consequently, it is essential that you look out for, and avoid, home improvement scammers when working out your home improvement project. In doing this, remember to consider bids from different contractors. Ideally, you should ask for referrals from friends and family members. More importantly, remember to verify any contractor’s license and also find out about their competence by asking for references and checking review-dedicated websites like Better Business Bureau. Try as much as possible to avoid making payments in cash and do not make a large down payment. Hire an attorney to draft a written agreement with the contractor, keep track of the project, and make final payments after the completion of the project. If you do not trust your contractor or you have a bad feeling about their competence, you should look for another contractor. Finding a contractor you trust is key to the business relationship with your contractor which is further essential to the success of your project.
What are Common Home Improvement Scams in Nebraska?
Common home improvement scams in Nebraska include part completion of a project or complete abandonment of a project after receiving substantial payment. Besides these common methods, scammers also develop other tactics to swindle unsuspecting homeowners that are looking to hire contractors. While home improvement scammers usually swindle anyone, they typically target senior residents because senior residents are generally decent and trusting. Therefore, in addition to protecting yourself, it is also important to assist senior residents around you from falling victim to home improvement scammers. Regarding this, you should be on the lookout for some of the tactics used by these scammers and they include:
- Uninvited solicitations: This includes door-to-door solicitations or contractors that contact you unexpectedly with the offer of undertaking your home improvement project. These contractors typically claim they had recently completed a project and have materials or workers to quickly execute your project with. Disregard uninvited solicitations and only go for contractors that you pick unless it was someone you trust that referred the contractor to you.
- Insisting on an oral agreement: Most scammers try to pressure homeowners into not getting a written agreement. They may attempt to discourage you by bringing up the cost of attorney fees and claim that a written agreement is a waste of time. Ignore such attempts and make sure to get a written agreement with the contractor handling your property project. A written agreement is concrete proof that there is a business relationship with your contractor and it shows what is required from your contractor. Additionally, a written agreement is an important piece of evidence in lodging a complaint against your contractor or suing your contractor when necessary.
- Requesting a large down payment and cash payments: Although Nebraska does not have a down payment law that specifies the limit for a down payment, it is important that you only pay a fraction of the project’s overall cost at the beginning of any project. Also, try to avoid cash payments as these are difficult to trace and prove. Make payments in check, particularly down payments.
- High-pressure biddings: Some scammers pressure you into accepting their bids without giving you time to hire an attorney to draft a written agreement or verifying their license and competence. Avoid contractors that constantly disturb you to accept their bids and only pick a contractor when you are satisfied they are licensed and competent enough.
If a contractor does any of the above listed, it is advised that you avoid them and find another contractor. In addressing home improvement scams and other construction-related scams in Nebraska, the state’s Attorney General’s Office has continued to investigate cases of unfair business practices by contractors. In September 2020, a company offering construction services paid $15,000 in fines for including non-disparagement clauses in home construction or repair contracts which restricted customers’ ability to give honest reviews about the company’s services.
Note that you can cancel a home improvement service within three business days of hiring the contractor. Also, if you suspect or have reasonable proof that you have been scammed for a home improvement service, you can report the scam by filing an online consumer complaint to the Nebraska AG Office. To file the complaint by mail, you can download the complaint form in English or Spanish and mail the completed form, along with required documentation, to
- Consumer Mediation Center
- Attorney General's Office
- 2115 State Capitol
- Lincoln, NE 68509
What are Disaster Scams in Nebraska?
Disaster scams in Nebraska are methods used by scammers and contractors to defraud and generally take advantage of homeowners with property damaged by a disaster. If your property was affected by a natural disaster such as floodings, take care to avoid disaster scammers while trying to carry out any repairs. These scammers are usually uninvited and they typically offer to repair your property at either very high or heavily discounted charges. Generally, you should be wary of uninvited solicitations. Below are some additional tips to help in protecting yourself from disaster scammers:
- Assess the areas affected by the disaster
- Ask friends and family members to refer a competent contractor. You should typically ask friends and family members that made similar repairs to their property
- Appraise estimates from multiple contractors and ensure the contractor you choose is licensed. You can verify a contractor’s license by contacting the NDL contractor registration department by phone at (402) 471-2239 or by utilizing the NDL search contractor portal
- Ask the contractor you choose to provide references from previous clients. Ideally, you should also contact any of the previous clients and inquire about their overall satisfaction with the contractor
- Ensure you do not make large down payments. Notwithstanding the fact that Nebraska does not have a down payment law, you should ideally only pay a reasonable fraction of the estimated cost of the project or repairs as a down payment
- Avoid cash payments generally. It is more ideal to make payments in check
- Make sure your agreement with the contractor is in writing and keep a record of the project’s progress
- Do not agree to hire a contractor until you have satisfactorily verified this contractor’s credentials. However, note that you can cancel a home repair service within three business working days of hiring a contractor.
If you have reasonable suspicion or proof that you are the victim of a disaster scam, you can contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division via phone at (800) 727-6432 to report the situation or you can file an online consumer complaint.
What are Common Legal
Legal scams include situations whereby scammers impersonate a law enforcement staff, a judiciary staff, or an attorney and use faux legal or court operations to swindle their victims. Note that in some cases, attorneys also perform legal work scams by using legal operations to deceitfully obtain money or information from their clients. A common legal work scam in Nebraska is the threat of grand jury fines. It involves contacting a person and threatening to fine, or actually ‘fining’ them, for failure to respond to a non-existent grand jury summons. The scammers usually contact their victim by phone or email and request that the victim pays a fine or manipulates the victim into providing personal or financial information through the threat of arrest or heavier fines.
It is advisable to not engage callers or emails from people claiming to be members of the Nebraska State Judiciary requesting payments of fines or submission of personal and financial information for missing a grand jury summons. Rather, report such calls or emails to the AG Office Consumer Protection Division at (800) 727-6432 and seek guidance on what to do next.
How Long Does it Take to Get a License in
The registration and licensing process for contractors in Nebraska is done online through the contractor registration portal and the processing period typically depends on when the registration is completed and submitted along with supporting documentation and payment of registration fees. The NDL has a user manual to assist applicants with the registration and licensing process and applicants can further email or contact the Contractor Registration Department for guidance at:
- Nebraska Department of Labor
- Contractor Registration
- 550 South 16th Street
- Lincoln, NE 68508
- Phone: (402) 471-2239
How to Maintain your License in Nebraska
In Nebraska, a contractor’s license is valid for one year. Within the period of validity, a contractor is required to maintain the license by maintaining a current worker’s compensation insurance and paying the required taxes. Note that contractors with no employees are exempted from the requirement of having worker’s compensation insurance. Contractors can also make changes to their registration information by logging into their user profile and updating the applicable registration status.
Similarly, attorneys in Nebraska maintain their license to practice within the state by meeting requirements like completing 10 hours of Mandatory Continuing Legal Education, inclusive of two hours of ethics or professional responsibility, annually. Attorneys are also required to have professional liability insurance coverage. Finally, Nebraska attorneys can make changes and updates to their license information through the Nebraska Supreme Court Attorney Services Division online portal. Queries concerning Nebraska attorney license maintenance can be directed to the Attorney Services Division of the Nebraska Supreme Court at:
- 3806 Normal Boulevard
- Lincoln, NE 68506
- Phone: (402) 471-3137
How to Renew Contractor License in
A contractor’s license in Nebraska is valid for a year and must be renewed annually. Similar to the application process for a license, contractor licenses are renewed online through the contractor’s user profile, and contractors that do not have a user profile are required to create one. To successfully renew a contractor’s license, the contractor must further pay the required annual fees and submit proof of worker’s compensation insurance where required. Queries concerning Nebraska contractor license renewal can be directed to the Nevada Department of Labor’s Contractor Registration Department via email or by calling (402) 471-2239.
Likewise, attorney licenses in Nebraska are renewed online through the Attorney Services Division online portal. Note that this renewal typically involves the payment of a fee and the submission of documents like proof of current professional liability insurance. Also, attorneys that do not have a profile on the online portal must create one before they can successfully renew their licenses. Queries related to the Nebraska attorney license renewal prices can be directed to (402) 471-3137 or email.