What Are New Mexico Contractors?
The New Mexico Regulation and Licensing Department (NMRLD) supervises the regulation and licensure of different professionals across New Mexico. Specifically, the Construction Industry Division (CID) of this agency is responsible for licensing and regulating over 50,000 contractors in the state. According to the Construction Industries Licensing Act (CILA), a contractor includes anyone who handles, offers to handle, or claims to have the capacity to handle construction services such as the construction, repairing, altering, installing, or demolishing of any structure or particular equipment including, but not limited to, buildings, roads, electrical wiring, and water conditioners. Except those exempted by this act, such as suppliers of construction materials and individuals that personally improve a single-family residence for personal use, anyone performing construction services is mandated to obtain a contractor license.
Other divisions of the state’s Regulation and Licensing Department are responsible for the licensing of other professionals in New Mexico. These include the Boards and Commissions Division, which is responsible for the licensure and regulation of landscape architects and accountants, and the Financial Institutions Division, which oversees the licensing and regulation of collection agencies and collection agents in the state. Likewise, the Supreme Court of New Mexico is responsible for the admission of attorneys and the regulation of legal practice in New Mexico. Note that the Supreme Court of New Mexico is an independent body that is not supervised by the NMRLD.
Tips for Hiring a Contractor
in New Mexico
The competence of a contractor is an important factor to consider when planning any property project, ranging from property constructions to home improvements. To help you do this and thereby ensure a satisfactory property project, you should take note of some of the helpful tips listed below:
- Look for estimates from different contractors. Comparing estimates can give you an idea of the estimated budget for your project and help you recognize when you are being overcharged for certain things such as construction materials.
- Ensure the contractor you pick is licensed in New Mexico. You can verify a contractor’s license through the New Mexico Contractor e-Services portal.
- Ask the contractor for references from previous clients. You can contact any of these previous clients and ask about their opinion on the contractor and their overall satisfaction with the contractor’s competence.
- Check with the CID whether the contractor has been the subject of any submitted complaint. You can contact the CID’s Santa Fe, Albuquerque, and Las Cruces offices at (505) 476-4700, (505) 222-9800, and (575) 524-6320 respectively.
- Make sure the contractor has valid and current workers’ compensation insurance and liability insurance.
- Have a written agreement with the contractor that spells out the duties of the contractor, the description of the work, the structure of payment, and other necessities. You may need to hire an attorney to assist with drafting the agreement and including the necessary clauses.
- Make payments in check as these are easier to trace and prove, unlike cash payments.
- Avoid making large down payments. While New Mexico does not have a down payment law, contractors typically request around 30% of the project’s overall cost as a down payment. Generally, you should only make a down payment when the contractor provides documentation showing the costs to be covered by the down payment, as well as how the down payment will be spent.
How to Search a Contractor’s License in New Mexico?
In accordance with the New Mexico Construction Industries Licensing Law, only professionals that have obtained an appropriate license from the Construction Industries Division of the state’s Regulation and Licensing Department can bid for home improvement contracts. It is your responsibility to make sure that the contractor you wish to hire complies with this law, and you can do this by utilizing the New Mexico Contractor e-Services portal. You can make a quick search on the portal using the contractor’s name or business name.
The New Mexico Construction Industries Law criminalizes the act of contracting without a license in the state. If you hire an unlicensed contractor to handle your construction or home improvement project, this project may be stopped by the state’s Construction Industries Division. Unlicensed contractors can also face criminal charges, and if found guilty, can receive a sentence of up to 90 days in county jail, a fine of up to $500, or both. Note that this penalty only applies to projects that are worth $5,000 or less. If the project that the unlicensed contractor was working on is valued at more than $5,000, then the penalty increases to a fine of 10% of the project’s value, a jail term of up to six months, or a combination of both.
How Much Does a Contractor Charge in
Different considerations such as the nature of the project and its estimated monetary cost partly determine how much contractors charge for their services. However, the average hourly charge of a contractor in New Mexico ranges between $40 and $90. Notwithstanding this average charge, below are some contractors and the amount they charge for their services:
In planning a property project, it is important to also consider hiring the services of an attorney to assist with agreements and legal advice regarding the project. Attorneys typically charge hourly and the average hourly charge in New Mexico is between $100 and $300.
What Are Home Improvement
Scams in New Mexico?
Home improvement scams in New Mexico refer to various styles and methods scammers and some contractors use in deceitfully obtaining money from homeowners. Examples include when scammers perform shoddy home repairs or generally abandon the home improvement project after receiving substantial payment. Home improvement scammers typically show up unannounced or target homeowners who are evidently in need of home repairs, such as homeowners who recently had part of their home substantially damaged by an accident or natural disaster.
Accordingly, when planning home improvement projects, you should usually take steps to avoid home improvement scammers. In doing this, ensure you consider different estimates from different contractors so you have an idea of the project’s overall cost. Knowing the estimated cost of your project helps in guarding you against instances whereby a contractor hikes the cost of materials. Also, verify the licenseof the contractor you pick. In New Mexico, the CID has the authority to stop any project being handled by an unlicensed contractor, and ensuring that your contractor is licensed helps you avoid any such delays that the lack of a contractor’s license can cause. Furthermore, make sure you do not pay the complete cost of the project before the project’s completion. Contractors in New Mexico typically ask for around 30% of the project’s overall cost as a down payment while some ask as high as 50%. Make sure that the contractor shows a detailed budget of how any requested down payments will be spent before you make the down payment. Additionally, avoid making cash payments. If a payment issue arises or you eventually sue or lodge a complaint against the contractor, check payments serve as better evidence that you paid a certain amount to the contractor, as opposed to cash payments that are difficult to prove and trace. Finally, it is ideal to involve an attorney in planning your home improvement project. Attorneys will further advise you on the relevant legal issues related to your home improvement project, draft the necessary agreements, and advise you on how to keep track of the project, among other things.
What are Common Home Improvement Scams in New Mexico?
Various types of home improvement scams are used in defrauding residents of New Mexico. Home improvement scammers typically target vulnerable people, particularly elder residents, because of their decency and likelihood to not fully understand some of the complex schemes used by the scammers. Nevertheless, these scammers also target any homeowner, and below are some of their methods to look out for and deal with:
- Pressured biddings: This includes instances whereby a contractor offers to make home repairs or perform home improvements but constantly pressurizes the homeowner into accepting the bid. Contractors may use different pressure or scare tactics, such as heightening the urgency of a home repair, to persuade homeowners into hiring them without drafting a written agreement, considering other bids, or ensuring a license verification.
- Uninvited solicitation: Some contractors go from door to door or randomly call homeowners and claim to be able to perform home repairs or improvements. Some of these scammers go on to say they just completed a property project and have some remaining materials they can use for your property project at a lesser cost. It is better to ignore such uninvited solicitations and choose a contractor yourself. If you choose to accept such solicitation, make sure you verify the contractor’s license, make payments in check, withhold full payment until the completion of the project, keep a record of the project, and involve an attorney.
- Insisting on cash payments: Scammers usually insist that homeowners make cash payments because cash payments can be easily disputed and difficult to trace. They typically persuade homeowners that cash payments are quick and time-saving. While this can be true, it is ideal that you avoid making cash payments or wire transfers and make payments in check instead. Check payments are easier to prove and are good for record-keeping.
The New Mexico Attorney General (AG) Office has continued to crack down on instances of unfair trade practices generally, and this includes home improvement scams. Accordingly, In March 2018, the AG Office continued a lawsuit against a solar company for its unconscionable sales and for several fixture filings which are inhibiting homeowners’ ability to sell their property, among other things.
Note that homeowners in New Mexico can cancel any door-to-door service within three business days after agreeing to the service. Also, any contractor making door-to-door bids must make it clear, both verbally and as part of the written agreement, that homeowners can cancel the contractor’s service within three business days after agreeing to hire the contractor.
If you have reasonable suspicion or proof that you are the victim of a home improvement scam, you can report the situation to the New Mexico AG Office through an online complaint submission or paper complaint submission. Online complaint submissions are done by visiting the Electronic Complaint Submission portal. To make a paper complaint submission, you can download the paper form in English or Spanish, fill it, and submit it to the AG office at:
- New Mexico Attorney General Office
- Advocacy and Intervention Division
- P.O. Drawer 1508
- Santa Fe, NM 87504-1508
- Phone: 1-844-255-9210 (toll free)
- Phone: (505) 490-4060
What are Disaster Scams in New Mexico?
Disaster scams in New Mexico include several fraudulent tactics scammers use to cash in on the owners of any property affected by a disaster. These scammers typically lurk around areas that just experienced a disaster such as flooding or heavy winds and approach affected homeowners with the offer to perform home repairs or improvements. In most cases, they either perform a tacky job or make off with any initial payments. These scammers typically make door-to-door solicitations and sometimes pressure homeowners into hiring them by offering large discounts. When planning a home repair or improvement after a disaster, it is important to protect yourself from disaster scammers. In doing this, below are some helpful tips:
- Check the areas of your house affected by the disaster and take note of them
- Compare bids from at least three different contractors and create a budget for your home repairs
- Ensure the contractor you pick is licensed in New Mexico
- Ask the contractor to provide references from at least three previous clients. Contact any of the previous clients and make inquiries about the contractor’s competence. You can also check review-dedicated websites like Better Business Bureau for possible reviews on the contractor
- Make sure any agreement between you and your contractor is in writing. You might need the services of an attorney with regards to the terms of the agreement as well as the general structure of the agreement
- Keep a record of the project’s progress. Try as much as possible to keep all documents related to the project such as receipts of any purchase
- Avoid cash payments as best as possible. Rather, ensure every payment related to the project is made with a check
- Do not make a large down payment. Although New Mexico does not have a down payment law, contractors typically charge between 20% and 50% of the project’s overall cost as a down payment. Make sure the contractor provides a detailed budget of how the requested down payment will be spent before you make the payment
- Pay the complete fee of the project only after the contractor has satisfactorily completed the job. Also, remember to include this in the written agreement
What are Common Legal
Legal work scams involve situations whereby scammers claim to be a staff of a state’s judiciary, law enforcement, or a law firm and use that status to defraud unsuspecting residents. These scams include imposing “fines” on victims for failing to perform a non-existent legal obligation or imposing fees on victims for “helping” the victim to perform a non-existent legal obligation. These fines or fees are usually backed with a threat of arrest. In New Mexico, a common legal work scam is the jury scam. Jury scams involve instances in which scammers use jury operations to defraud people or obtain personal information. Examples include requesting the victim to pay a fine for failure to appear for non-existent jury duty or requesting personal information to “confirm” an upcoming jury duty. These scams are usually done through email or phone calls.
The New Mexico Judiciary has advised residents of New Mexico to avoid jury scams as court staff do not request personal information or send official correspondence through phone or email. All official correspondences from the state’s judiciary are by mail. Any resident who receives any phone call or email regarding the payment of a fine or submission of personal information for jury service can report the situation to the New Mexico Supreme Court through (505) 841-8141.
How Long Does it Take to Get a License in
The processing period for a contractor license in New Mexico depends on when an applicant passes the required examinations and submits the required documents. The relevant application forms and information on the required exams can be found on the PSI New Mexico e-Services portal. For queries and concerns related to contractor license applications, applicants can also contact the state’s Construction Industries Division.
How to Maintain your License in New Mexico
In New Mexico, any contractor holding a valid license is required to maintain the license, failure of which may result in a suspension or revocation of the license. Consequently, to maintain their license, contractors are statutorily mandated to complete 16 hours of continuing education for the period of the license’s validity and also maintain valid workers’ compensation insurance. Additionally, contractors must abide by New Mexico laws as some offenses, such as the conversion of client’s funds or conspiring to violate the CILA, can lead to license revocation. In line with maintaining their licenses, contractors can also make some changes to or update certain license information, such as their current addresses and phone numbers, through the NMRLD Mylicense portal.
Similarly, attorneys in New Mexico are required to maintain their licenses during their validity period by completing 12 hours of continuing legal education annually, and this includes two hours of ethics or professionalism credit. To make changes to any license information, such as contact information, attorneys are required to fill and submit a request form online and notify the New Mexico Supreme Court and State Bar of New Mexico of these changes at:
- New Mexico Supreme Court
- Clerk of Court
- P.O. Box 848
- Santa Fe, NM 87504-0848
- Fax: (505) 827-4837
- Email: email@example.com
- State Bar of New Mexico
- 5121 Masthead Street Northeast
- Albuquerque, NM 87109
- P.O. Box 92860
- Albuquerque, NM 87199-2860
- Phone: (505) 797-6000
- Phone: (800) 876-6227
- Email: ContactUs@sbnm.org
How to Renew Contractor License in
A contractor’s license in New Mexico is valid for two years after which the contractor is expected to renew the license. License renewals are done online through the NMRLD Mylicense portal. New Mexico contractors are required to log in and renew their licenses through their online profiles and then physically submit any required documentation to the relevant office, as directed on the portal. Contractors who do not have an account are to create one before they renew their license. Queries regarding contractor license renewals in New Mexico can be directed to any of the CID’s offices.
Finally, the process for attorney license renewals starts online through the state’s bar member services portal. The renewal process may not be entirely online as attorneys may be required to physically submit or mail certain documents necessary for the renewal process. Queries concerning attorney license renewals can be directed to (505) 797-6000 or (800) 876-6227, or by email.