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What Are Oregon Contractors?

The Oregon Construction Contractors Board (OCCB) is the body in charge of licensing and regulating approximately 40,000 contractors doing business in the state. A contractor is any person or business entity that undertakes, offers to undertake, or submits a bid to undertake the construction, demolishing, alteration, repairing, or improvement of any structure for compensation or with intent to sell. Although the Oregon Construction Contractors Board issues different types of licenses, these licenses can be grouped into three main categories, which are residential, commercial, and combination residential & commercial contractor licenses. All contractors in the state are statutorily mandated to obtain an appropriate license. However, exceptions are made for certain individuals, such as those constructing, improving, altering, or repairing their personal property or registered architects operating within their license.

Note that contractors are not the only professionals in Oregon who must be licensed. Professionals like accountants are required to be licensed by the Oregon Board of Accountancy while nurse practitioners are required to be licensed by the Oregon State Board of Nursing. Likewise, the Oregon State Bar (OSB) regulates the practice of law in Oregon and supervises the licensing and disciplining of over 15,000 attorneys in the state.

Tips for Hiring a Contractor
in Oregon

Depending on the complexity or nature of a property project, it may be necessary to hire a contractor. However, it is also important to ensure that any contractor hired is competent, does business per state requirements, and can also perform a satisfactory job. In ensuring the competence of your contractor and the success of your project, below are some helpful tips to take note of:

  • Review offers from different contractors. This helps you know if you are being charged a fair or consistent rate
  • Ask the contractor to provide references from different past clients. Contact these clients and ask about their overall experience with the contractor
  • Make sure the contractor is licensed. The OCCB has a contractor license search portal that you can use to verify a contractor’s license and check if the contractor has had any complaints or faced disciplinary action in the past 10 years. Alternatively, you can contact the OCCB at (503) 378-4621
  • Ensure the contractor has workers’ compensation insurance and liability insurance
  • Make sure that any agreement you make with the contractor is in writing. This helps to spell out the duties of the contractor, the project’s description, the payment structure, and clarify other important things related to the contract. Ideally, you should hire an attorney to assist with the drafting of the agreement as opposed to drafting it yourself or blindly agreeing to one prepared by the contractor
  • Avoid making large down payments. Since Oregon does not have a down payment law, make sure any down payment is only a small part of the project’s overall cost. A reasonable down payment is between 15% and 30% of the project’s overall cost. Also, any requested down payment, regardless of the amount, should be justified by the contractor through a satisfactory and detailed breakdown of how it will be spent.
  • Manage the project by keeping a record of every important detail. This includes ticking off agreed performance milestones via a checklist and keeping a file of receipts and check payments
  • Try as much as possible to make payments in check and not in cash. Check payments are not easily disputed and they serve as credible proof of money transfer or a transaction

How to Search a Contractor’s License in Oregon?

Contractors in Oregon are required to obtain a contractor's license from the state’s Construction Contractors Board (CCB) before providing their services to any interested parties. As such, you can verify the licensing status of your contractor on the Contractor License Search portal that the Oregon CCB maintains online for this purpose. Accurate search results can be gotten via this portal by inputting the contractor’s CCB license number. However, searches can also be performed by providing all or part of the contractor’s business name, last name, or by providing the contractor’s business telephone number. You can contact the CCB at (503) 378-4621 to get assistance if you experience any difficulty utilizing its license search portal.

Rule 812-005-0800 of the Oregon Administrative Rules provides a schedule of penalties for contractors that fail to obtain an appropriate license before providing services to residents of the state. Per this rule, advertising or bidding for contractor-related jobs without possessing a contractor’s license can result in fines of up to $700 per offense. Likewise, contracting without a license carries a penalty of $1,000 for first offenders and $5,000 per violation for repeat offenders. Note that in situations where a homeowner files a complaint for damages against a first-time offender, the $1,000 fine can go up to $5,000.

How Much Does a Contractor Charge in
Oregon?

Contractors in Oregon charge clients based on various factors such as the nature of the project and its estimated cost in materials and labor. The hourly charge rate for contractors is typically between $40 and $100. However, some contractors may charge by the size or area of the property where the job will be done. Accordingly, below are some contractors and their estimated charges:

Electricians
$70 - $100 per hour
Carpenters
$15 - $25 per square foot
Roofing contractors
$200 - $1,200 per 100 square foot
Siding installation contractors
$4 - $7 per square foot
Painter
$40 - $60 per hour
Plumber
$70 - $110 per hour
Flooring contractors
$3 - $10 per square foot
Concrete contractors
$5 - $10 per square foot
Drywall installation contractors
$40 - $60 per hour
Maid services
$35 - $50 per hour

When it comes to drafting a written agreement for your contractor or satisfying the legal requirements associated with your property project, you may need to hire the services of an attorney for legal advice and assistance. Attorneys in Oregon typically charge between $80 and $150 per hour for their services.

What Are Home Improvement
Scams in Oregon?

Home improvement scams in Oregon generally refer to sham practices and methods through which contractors and scammers claiming to be contractors deceive and obtain money from homeowners. These scams range from poor repairs or doing a subpar job to sneakily causing more damage to the property and charging the homeowner more to repair these damages. Home improvement scammers usually show up unsolicited, making door-to-door biddings to homeowners, and typically have unreasonably low bids for projects. Therefore, protecting yourself from home improvement scammers is an important thing to consider when planning a home improvement project.

In protecting yourself from these scammers, ensure to look at bids from different contractors. This not only helps to know when a contractor is charging exorbitant costs, but it also helps to know when a contractor’s charge is unreasonably low or too good to be true. Remember, if it looks too good to be true, then it probably is. Also, make sure the contractor you choose is duly licensed and verify the contractor’s credibility by asking for references from previous clients. Furthermore, put all your agreements and understanding with the contractor into writing. Note that in Oregon, a written agreement is statutorily required for improvements performed on a residential building costing $2,000 or more. In addition, avoid making large down payments. While Oregon does not have a contractor down payment limiting law, you can utilize the state’s progress payments law to pay your contractor cycles that have been established in your construction agreement. Therefore, you and the contractor can decide how you want to spread out the payments based on performance milestones and what should constitute a down payment. Generally, down payments should be a small but reasonable part of the project’s total cost and the contractor should have a detailed budget of how the requested payment will be spent. Lastly, make payments with checks, avoid cash payments as much as possible, and keep a record of the project as it progresses.

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What are Common Home Improvement Scams in Oregon?

Home improvement scammers constantly find new means of fraudulently obtaining money from homeowners. Although these scammers target any homeowner, they typically target vulnerable people and elder citizens because these citizens are generally more trusting and also less likely to understand the complexities of these scams. Nonetheless, below are some techniques typically associated with home improvements scammers in Oregon:

  • Offering very low prices: Home improvement scammers typically offer to handle a project at very low costs, compared to the average construction cost. They either claim there are leftover materials they can use for your project at low cost or claim they can find construction materials at lesser costs somewhere. If it is too good to be true, then you should reconsider and verify the credibility of the contractor.
  • Unwillingness to give an estimate or have a written agreement: Contractors who insist that written agreements are unnecessary or constantly fail to provide written estimates are likely scammers. Without a written estimate and written agreement, it can be difficult to prove a business relationship with a contractor. Ensure that there is a written agreement with any contractor that you hire. It is also advisable to hire an attorney to assist with drafting and reviewing this agreement.
  • Business card without a license number from the OCCB: Home improvement scammers are known to flash business cards at homeowners to ‘prove’ they are licensed. In most cases, these business cards do not have a license number and they persuade homeowners they are working on getting one. As a homeowner, avoid such contractors and only hire a contractor that has a business card with a license number. You can verify a contractor’s license by contacting the OCCB at (503) 378-4621.
  • Cash transactions: Contractors who only want payments in cash and always insist on cash payments are likely scammers. Generally, avoid making cash payments as cash payments are usually difficult to keep track of or prove when necessary. Rather, make payments with a check and take note of each payment. You should also avoid paying the full cost of projects before any work commences. While Oregon does not place a monetary cap on the amount of money that contractors can request as upfront payments, it is advisable to limit this to between 15% and 30% of the project’s total cost.
  • Scare tactics: Home improvement scammers usually try to make you hire them on the spot by using scare or pressure tactics. Do not give in to this. Verify a contractor’s license and credibility, have a written estimate as well as a written agreement before agreeing to hire a contractor. Ensuring you hire a competent contractor is important because incompetent contractors or scammers are likely to leave your property in a poorer condition than it was.

In protecting consumers and reducing the rate of home improvement and construction scams in Oregon, the OCCB has adopted various measures such as the random investigation of job sites across the state. In late 2019, the OCCB conducted several random investigations that ultimately revealed 63 contractor violations. A similar investigation of job sites also revealed over 50 contractor violations. Accordingly, the OCCB has initiated the relevant processes for appropriately sanctioning these violators.

Note that homeowners in Oregon have a right to cancel a home improvement service within three business days after hiring the contractor if the service was solicited at a location other than the contractor’s permanent place of business. Also, homeowners that are victims of a home improvement scam can file a complaint to the OCCB or contact (503) 934-2247 for assistance.

What are Disaster Scams in Oregon?

Disaster scams in Oregon are schemes used by unscrupulous people to defraud victims of natural disasters that resulted in property damage. These scammers typically search for recent disaster areas and prey on the victims by offering to repair damaged property quickly or at a considerably cheap cost. As you recover from the effects of a disaster, it is also important to protect yourself from disaster scammers seeking to take advantage of your situation. Below are some helpful tips:

  • Consider estimates from different contractors to have an idea of what the project may cost in time and money
  • Prepare a budget for any repairs
  • Verify the license of any contractor you intend to hire online or by calling (503) 378-4621
  • Request, and make sure that you get, a written estimate from your contractor. Scammers typically try to convince you that your insurance settlement will cover the cost of repairs, even if the payment is much higher than the average repair cost and they try to make you agree to use your entire insurance settlement to pay for their services. Avoid such agreements and have a clear and specific estimate from the contractor
  • Make sure your agreement with the contractor concerning the job is in writing. You may need to hire the services of an attorney with regards to drafting this agreement
  • Avoid making large payments upfront. Only pay a part of the project’s cost upfront and also make sure the contractor gives a detailed breakdown of how the requested payment will be spent
  • Make payments in check and only pay the complete fee for the project after the contractor has completed a satisfactory job as agreed
  • Keep a detailed record of the project. This includes keeping all documents, such as permits and receipts, related to the project

In addressing disaster scams across the state, the OCCB also randomly investigates job sites in areas with a disaster occurrence. Consequently, in March 2019, the OCCB investigated different job sites after a recent winter storm in some areas of the state. These investigations uncovered more than 40 contractor violations which led to sanctions from the OCCB against the violators. Queries regarding disaster scams and how to report such scams can be directed to (503) 378-4621.

What are Common Legal
Work Scams in Oregon?

Legal work scams refer to the various ways through which scammers use court operations and legal situations to defraud law-abiding and unsuspecting individuals. The most common type of legal work scam in Oregon is the legal impersonation of judicial and law enforcement staff. Usually, a scammer claiming to be a staff of the Oregon State Judiciary contacts an individual and requests the payment of a fee or submission of financial information with regards to jury duty. The scammer either requests the payment of the fee as a fine for failing to perform jury duty or requests financial information to “process” an upcoming jury duty. These scams typically occur through email or a phone call and they are usually backed with the threat of arrest if victims fail to comply.

Residents of Oregon are advised to report any calls or emails from individuals claiming to be staff of the judiciary and requesting the payment of a fine or submission of financial or personal information to their local circuit court jury coordinator. In addition to this, it is also advisable to never open any attachments that may be sent with such emails, as they may include malware that can be used to steal your personal information from your computer.

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

The processing period for getting a contractor license in Oregon varies and depends on when the applicant completes the required pre-license training, submits the required documentation such as a surety bond and proof of workers’ compensation insurance, and submits a completed license application form. Queries regarding the contractor license processing times and as well as questions related to getting a contractor license in Oregon can be directed to the OCCB by email or at (503) 378-4621.

How to Maintain your License in Oregon

Contractors holding a valid license in Oregon are required to maintain the license and failing to do so may result in the license being suspended or revoked. To maintain a contractor license, a contractor must have valid general liability insurance and contractors with employees must further have workers’ compensation insurance. Additionally, residential contractors are statutorily mandated to complete at least eight hours of continuing education unless exempted by the OCCB. As part of maintaining their licenses, contractors can also make changes to specific license information, such as addresses or phone numbers, through the OCCB Online Services portal.

Likewise, attorneys in Oregon are required to maintain their licenses by ensuring they complete 45 credits of Minimum Continuing Legal Education in every 3-year reporting period. The Oregon State Bar also has statutory authority to mandate attorneys to have professional liability insurance if necessary. In addition, attorneys can make certain changes, such as contact details updates, to their license information through their profiles on the OSB member portal.

How to Renew Contractor License in
Oregon

In Oregon, a contractor license must be renewed after two years. The renewal process can be done online through the OCCB Online Services portal. A license renewal must begin eight weeks before the expiration of the license and contractors that do not have an account on the portal are expected to create an account to renew their licenses. Queries related to a contractor license renewal can be directed to (503) 378-4621.

Finally, attorney licenses in Oregon are renewed by paying the relevant membership fees annually, as prescribed by the Oregon State Bar. Queries regarding the payment of membership fees or other information on attorney license renewal can be directed to the Oregon State Bar at (503) 620-0222 or via email.