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What Are West Virginia Contractors?

Contractors in West Virginia are persons who bid to improve, alter, or tear down structures including buildings, roads, railroads, and other excavation-related projects. The state’s Division of Labour is responsible for licensing and regulating contractors in West Virginia and this agency currently has around 17,400 licensed contractors recorded in its database. Per the West Virginia Contractors Licensing Act, contractors in the state are required to be licensed before bidding for projects valued at or above $5,000 within the state.

Several other professionals in West Virginia are also required to obtain licenses before operating in the state, and these professionals include architects and land surveyors. West Virginia homeowners can also hire the services of an attorney to look over the legal aspects of their contractor-related projects including contracts. The West Virginia State Bar is responsible for licensing attorneys in West Virginia, and there are over 7,687 attorneys in West Virginia.

Tips for Hiring a West Virginia
in California

Hiring the right contractor can be daunting and time-consuming, but if done properly, it can save you lots of resources. Some tips for hiring contractors in West Virginia include the following:

  • Never make payments with cash. It is advisable to pay with checks or credit cards as these means are easier to track and are most times refundable.
  • Shop around for materials needed for your project and obtain information on prizes and qualities of materials before hiring a contractor.
  • Obtain no less than three bids on your project before selecting a contractor.
  • Validate the contractor’s license. You can use the state's Contractor Licensing board’s database to search and verify a contractor’s license status before hiring or you can call the agency at (304)-558-7890 to do this.
  • Request proof of the contractor’s general liability insurance, this helps in protecting both you and the contractor from damages that may occur within the duration of contacts.
  • Request references from the contractor, this helps in uncovering the contractor’s past projects and gives you an idea of how the contractor works.
  • Always ask for second opinions from families, friends, or qualified professionals such as an attorney, before signing any contract.

How to Search a Contractor’s License in West Virginia?

The West Virginia Department of Labor oversees the licensing of contractors in the state. While these licenses are statutorily required for any contractors that are involved in residential projects worth $5,000 or more and commercial projects worth $25,000 or more, it is always a good idea to make sure that your intended contractor is duly licensed, regardless of the cost of your project. To this end, the Department of Labor provides a Contractor License Search webpage that you can use to confirm the licensing status of contractors in the state by inputting the contractor’s licensing number, company name, or location.

Note that the West Virginia Office of the State Fire Marshall provides a separate Licensee Search webpage that can be used to confirm the licensing status of electrical and fire-related contractors. This webpage also provides several fields that can be used to narrow down license searches, including the contractor’s name, license type, location, and specialty.

Per the state’s Contractor Licensing Act, professionals found to be involved in unlicensed contracting are initially issued a cease and desist order requiring them to obtain the relevant license before continuing any work. However, continuing to engage in unlicensed contracting after receiving this order can result in penalties ranging from a minimum fine of $200 to a maximum penalty of $5,000 and imprisonment for up to one year.

How Much Does a Contractor Charge in
West Virginia?

In West Virginia, contractors can charge as little as $25 or as high as $110,000, depending on the project type and size, the consumer’s preferences, project specifications, and other factors like the amount of labor required for the job. Some of the most prevalent contractors in West Virginia along with their hourly charges includes:

Electrical contractors: $6
7.32 - $83
Building contractors:
$21 - $47
Heating, ventilating, and air conditioning(HVAC) contractors:
$15 - $45
Plumbing contractors:
$45 - $100
Multifamily contractors:
$21 - $47
Piping contractors:
$13 - $34
Residential contractors:
$10 - $55
Specialty contractors:
$20 - $200
Engineering contractors:
$25 - $50

Hiring the Services of an attorney when you want to undertake a project also helps in protecting you against fraudulent contractors, as they can review contracts to screen out unfavorable terms. On average, attorney services in West Virginia cost around $40 - $100 per hour.

What Are Home Improvement
Scams in West Virginia?

In West Virginia, a home improvement scam is the improper management of home improvement projects by contractors, for the sole purpose of extorting money from homeowners. These scams are mostly aimed at the state’s elderly demographic, due to scammers labeling them as easy targets.

State residents are advised to only work with only state-licensed contractors, as these licenses prove the contractor is adequately skilled to perform your tasks. It is also a good idea to get an attorney to go through contracts to make sure their legal rights are protected. Finally, report any unlicensed contractors and complaints relating to home improvement scams to the West Virginia Attorney General Office via the consumer protection hotline at 1-800-368-8808, the senior protection hotline at (304) 558-1155, or by filing a consumer complaint form.

Professional License Search

What are Common Home Improvement Scams in West Virginia?

West Virginia homes owner can avoid falling victim to home improvement scams by recognizing the following signs:

  • Offers of high discounts for on-the-spot agreement to contracts: this encompasses contractors pressuring state residents into agreeing to unknown terms of a contract before any research on the contractor can be made. These projects are later scrapped and left unfinished after the contractor receives payment.
  • Door-to-door solicitations: This involves scammers visiting state residents’ homes and offering services as licensed contractors. These scammers usually offer cheaper prices, some may claim to have leftover materials from their previous projects and offer to start work immediately.
  • Lack of paperwork: Because leaving paper trails protects your rights in any contracted project, scammers try to evade these rights by convincing employers to agree to promises without signing any physical contractors to back them up.

The following tips can be used in protecting yourself against these types of scams:

  • Never sign any contract without reviewing its terms. You should consult with an attorney before signing any provided contracts.
  • Never pay the total cost of any project before its completion. Payment should be made in different phases of your projects and a payment schedule should be drafted and clearly stated in your project's contract.
  • Do your research. Never consult any contractor without knowing what your project entails. This includes having an idea of what materials cost, reviewing multiple contractors to get an average of what your project may cost, and reviewing contractors' similar past projects.
  • Down payment request: this involves scammers requesting high downpayment for commencement of a contracted project, when payments are made the projects are discarded. It is important to note that, there are no West Virginia laws on down payment. However, this does not mean that you should pay the total cost any home improvement project that you wish to undertake before any work commences. Instead, you limit any initial payment that you have to make to 10% - 30% of the project’s cost and make subsequent payments that correlate with the progress of the project.
  • Report any suspected home improvement scams should be reported to the West Virginia Attorney General’s office at 1-800-368-8808 for consumer protection and at (304) 558-1155 for seniors protection. Reports can also be made by downloading and filling a general complaint form or a mortgage consumer complaint form and submit these forms via email or mail-in to the state’s Attorney General Office at:
  • West Virginia Attorney General Office.
  • P.O. Box 1789
  • Charleston, WV 25326-1789.

The state’s Attorney General has been relentless in fighting home improvement scams within the state. In 2018 the West Virginia Attorney General’s office filed a civil complaint against a single contractor operating within Harrison County that had continually requested over 50% of the total cost of projects as down payment without providing any services in return. This contractor was subsequently charged a minimum of $5000 for each violation of the state’s Consumer Credit and Protection Act.

What are Disaster Scams in West Virginia?

Disaster scams in West Virginia are scams where state residents are targeted after experiencing natural or manmade disasters such as storms. West Virginians can take certain precautionary steps to prevent scammers from taking advantage of their need for urgent repairs after a disaster. These steps include:

  • Never hire contractors without proper contract documentation expressly stating the terms, conditions, and estimates for your project. It is always a good idea to have a licensed attorney look over any provided contract, this ensures that your interests are protected.
  • Never rush into hiring contractions without proper research. A good rule of thumb to follow is asking for and verifying any contractor's license through the state's Division of Labour at (304) 558-7890 or online via the state-provided contractor search portal. You should also search online for contractor reviews or ratings, and validate any contractor's proof of insurance by contacting the organization that provided this insurance.
  • Beware of door-to-door contractors that show up in West Virginia after major storms or disasters. More often than none, these contractors are scammers and are not properly licensed to work in the state.

State residents can report disaster-related scams to the following agencies:

  • The National Center for Disaster and Fraud Control at 1-866-720-5721 or online.
  • West Virginia Consumer Protection Hotline at 1-800-368-8808 or through complaints forms online.

What are Common Legal
Work Scams in West Virginia?

Legal work scams involve the illegal impersonation of legal professionals such as attorneys, law firms, lawyers, and legitimate businesses by scammers for the sole purpose of extorting money from West Virginians. These types of scams can be considerably difficult to untangle due to the use of genuine businesses and legal professionals, thus bolstering the scammers’ credibility to their prospective victims. The most common legal work scam carried out in West Virginia is the impersonation of legal professionals and businesses. This scam usually involves scammers adopting the identity of reputable legal professionals such as an attorney and offering legal services to West Virginians. The physical addresses of those legal professionals and firms, along with the scammer’s contact information are listed on fake websites set up by these scammers to further legitimize their schemes. Victims are coaxed into paying retainers for their services without scammers ever providing any legal licenses.

Some of the most effective ways of safeguarding yourself against legal scams include:

  • Verifying attorney licenses through the state's bar’s membership search portal.
  • Ignoring all calls from unknown solicitors.
  • Avoiding cash payments for attorney services.

Note that in some cases, licensed attorneys may be involved in carrying out a legal work scam. If you suspect this, please report the attorney to the state’s Office of Disciplinary Counsel at (304) 558-7999. Non-attorneys that are involved in legal work scams in West Virginia can also be reported to the state's Attorney General's Office by calling 1-800-368-8808 or (304) 558-1155 if the scam involves a senior citizen, or by downloading, completing, and submitting a consumer complaint form, either by email or mail-in to:

  • West Virginia Attorney General Office.
  • P.O. Box 1789
  • Charleston, WV 25326-1789.

How Long Does it Take to Get a License in
West Virginia?

The West Virginia Division of Labor typically processes any properly completed contractor license applications that are submitted to it via mail within 24 hours, and the issued licenses are sent to the applicants by mail also. However, fully completed applications brought in person directly to the state’s Division of Labour office are processed immediately and licenses may also be issued on the same day. Note that contractors are expected to complete registration with other agencies, obtain any applicable documentation, and also pass the West Virginia business and law exams before being eligible to obtain a contractor’s license. These agencies include the West Virginia State Tax Department for a business registration tax number, the West Virginia Office of the Insurance Commissioner for worker compensations coverage, the Workforce West Virginia for unemployment compensations protection, and the West Virginia Secretary of State’s Office.

After this is done, contractors can then submit their fully completed contractor’s license application form to the state’s Division of Labour by mail or in person at:

  • West Virginia Division of Labor
  • State Capitol Complex
  • 1900 Kanawha Boulevard East
  • Building 3
  • Suite 200
  • Charleston, WV 25305
  • Phone: (304) 558-7890

How to Maintain your License in West Virginia

Changes to any contractor's license in West Virginia can be made by contacting the state’s Division of Labor at:

  • West Virginia Division of Labor
  • State Capitol Complex
  • 1900 Kanawha Boulevard East
  • Building 3
  • Suite 200
  • Charleston, WV 25305
  • Phone: (304) 558-7890

Contractors will be required to provide all necessary documents needed for the implementation of these changes. Changing the name on existing licenses would require contractors to effect the same changes with all other agencies that they have registered. Note that these changes have to be made by the contractors before contacting the Division of Labor.

West Virginia attorneys are required to complete a minimum of 24 hours of legal education every two fiscal years throughout their active practice. Legal education helps attorneys maintain the necessary knowledge and skills needed in fulfilling their legal duties per Article15 of the West Virginia State Bar bylaws and administrative rules. Failure to complete this legal education can result in an attorney's license suspension. Attorneys can also make changes to their licenses such as updating their license status through the West Virginia State Bar membership portal.

How to Renew Contractor License in
West Virginia

In West Virginia, contractor's licenses are valid for a year after which license renewal would be required. Renewals can be done online and contractors typically receive a renewal notice via mail 30 days before their license expiration dates. Renewals made more than 15 days after the expiration of the license will incur an overdue fee, while renewals made more than 90 days after the license expiration date will require the contractor to reapply for licensing.

Similarly, attorneys are mandated to renew their membership with the West Virginia State Bar between June 30 to July 1 every year. Renewal fees range between $100 - $250, depending on the number of years the attorney has served. Late renewal attracts a minimum penalty fee of $200. Attorney annual fees can be paid through the state's bar membership portal online, by logging in and navigating to members reporting & fee section or in-person at:

  • West Virginia State Bar
  • 2000 Deitrick Boulevard East
  • Charleston, WV 25311
  • Phone: (304) 553-7220