Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Secretary of State Handel Reminds Georgians about Contractor Licensing Law, Warns Consumers about Potential Contractor Scams Following Recent Floods

Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel today reminded consumers affected by recent flooding across the state that certain types of residential and general contractors require state licensure, and warned home and business owners to be wary of potential scams.

Typical flood damage that requires a contractor to hold a state-issued license includes major structural repair, electrical, plumbing and HVAC. Consumers can verify that a contractor is properly licensed or file a complaint against a licensed contractor online at: http://sos.georgia.gov/plb.

Additionally, state law exempts some types of construction work from licensure. Typical flood damage that does not require a licensed contractor includes roofing, painting, sheetrock, siding, mold remediation, flooring, foundation waterproofing and septic tank repair. Septic tank repair must be conducted by a person certified by the Georgia Department of Community Health.

Consumers should know that is illegal for a homeowner to obtain a building permit and use an unlicensed contractor to manage construction services. The person or business who obtains the permit could also assume the majority of liability for the project, leaving the consumer with little to no legal recourse.

When hiring someone to conduct construction work, watch out for these red flags that you may be dealing with a dishonest individual:

- A person going door-to-door selling their services.
- A person who offers services for a short time only, which makes consumers feel rushed and unable to research the contractor.
- Pressure to pay for more than half of the cost up front.
- Refusal or reluctance to set out complete and specific contract terms in writing.
- Lack of permanent and verifiable name, address and phone number of the business.

For additional consumer tips, please visit the Secretary of State’s Professional Licensing Boards website at: http://sos.georgia.gov.

Karen Handel was sworn in as Secretary of State in January 2007. The Secretary of State's office offers important services to our citizens and our business community. Among the office’s wide-ranging responsibilities, the Secretary of State is charged with conducting efficient and secure elections, the registration of corporations, and the regulation of securities and professional license holders. The office also oversees the Georgia Archives and the Capitol Museum.
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