Protecting Northern Nevada residents from contractor scams during fire season

Submitted to the Tribune

Fire season can be a concerning time for many Northern Nevada homeowners, given the unpredictable course and devastating effects Mother Nature can have on our communities. For homeowners who find themselves dealing with the aftermath of damage to their homes and landscapes, the Nevada State Contractors Board is sharing a word of caution.  

It is important that homeowners first consult and notify their homeowner insurance companies of any damage to ensure all requirements for repair and assistance are aligned with your policy expectations.  When you are ready to have work performed on your home, always verify the contractors recommended or those you have researched are properly licensed with the Nevada State Contractors Board.  Checking the Board’s website or mobile application to ensure a contractor’ license number is “Active” can afford you peace of mind that you have the full resources of the Board in the event something goes wrong with your project, including an investigation into your concerns, options for remedy when validated, and even financial recourse through the Board’s Residential Recovery Fund up to $40,000 when eligible.

Be alert to predatory and unlawful contractors, who often use deceptive contracting practices that take advantage of the vulnerability of homeowners in these circumstances – especially seniors. The Nevada State Contractors Board is dedicated to safeguarding the well-being of all Nevada residents, and encourages any homeowner looking to have repair or remodel work performed on their home to always verify a contractor has an “Active” contractor’s license by checking the Nevada State Contractor’s Board’s website:

Unlicensed and unlawful contractors may use the following tactics, which the Contractors Board advises against.  Please take a moment to read about these red flag signs and how you can protect yourself against them.

• Uninvited door-to-door solicitors. Any unsolicited business should be taken with caution. The Board recommends never inviting someone you don’t know into your home. Often, these solicitations will highlight “free estimates” or ask for entry into your home to assess damage. If you do speak with someone, ask first for their contractor’s license number then verify it with the Nevada State Contractors Board website or mobile application – a quick process that can ensures you have the full resources of the Contractors Board at your disposal. 

• High-pressure sales tactics. Contractors who resort to intimidation and aggressive sales tactics demonstrate a lack of professionalism. Legitimate contractors will never pressure or force you to decide on the spot, especially when it comes to signing a contract. If homeowners ever feel threatened or coerced into having work performed, it is crucial to walk away from the situation and, if necessary, contact law enforcement.  

• Demand for cash and/or large down payments. Be leery of contractors whodemand cash payments or request significant upfront deposits for materials before commencing any work. To safeguard themselves, the Board recommends only paying with check or credit card, and remembering that down payments should not exceed $1,000 or 10% of the contracted work, whichever is less.  Paying more could result in the contractor running off with your money before the work is started or complete.

The Nevada State Contractors Board is a public agency that devotes its time and resources to assisting consumers with their interactions with contractors, in addition to vetting the credentials and licensing all contractors in the State of Nevada.  The next time you are thinking about having work performed on your home – regardless of the size and scope of your need – utilize these best practices:

• Obtain three bids using the same scope of work.

• Verify all contractors on the project are properly licensed with the Board.

• Ask for referrals from past clients and contact them to learn about their experience.

• Insist on a detailed, written contract, and do not sign until you understand all its terms and conditions.

• Never let payments get ahead of the work performed.

The Nevada State Contractors Board is available to answer any of your questions or concerns at any time.  Please visit the website for additional resources or contact the Northern Nevada office at (775) 688-1141.

Source: Nevada State Contractors Board

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