When you have a big remodel project in mind for your home or office, you likely spend hours scouring online reviews and project portfolios of every contractor in your area. It’s not until after you’ve hired them, or perhaps not even until the project is done, that you discover the contractor is not licensed by the state. The use of unknowingly using an unlicensed Louisiana contractor is unfortunately common. In order to prevent this, it’s first important to understand the general contractor laws.
Louisiana Contractor Licensing Laws
A license is not always necessary to be a contractor in Louisiana, depending on the size and cost of the project. It is required for:
- Commercial projects whose cost exceeds $50,000.
- New residential ground-up construction with costs exceeding $75,000.
- Residential “improvement” construction costing $7,500 or more.
- Electrical contracting work which costs $10,000 or more.
It is a misdemeanor to perform contracting work without a license in Louisiana. Criminal penalties regarding Louisiana contractor licensing are usually not sought, unless the contractor advertised themselves as licensed when they were not. The contract is voided, and monetary penalties – as much as three percent of the contract price – are imposed upon the contractor.
The license ensures peace of mind on the part of the hirer and that the contractor is knowledgeable enough to pass the licensing test in their given field. A license holds the contractor accountable; they are on record with the Louisiana Board of Contractors, so if they are dishonest or make obvious mistakes, their reputation takes a big hit.
There are exceptions to the necessity of a license for home improvement contracting; if you’re constructing something yourself on a property at which you live, you do not need a license. The same if you’re a landscaper, interior painter or plumber (though safety and health standards would still need to be followed).
What If a Contractor I Hired Isn’t Licensed?
If you discover at any point during the project that the contractor you hired is not licensed, there are a number of options you can take, depending on how much money you spent or how deceitful the contractor’s actions were.
- The fine from the Licensing Board cannot exceed ten percent of the contract’s value for each valuation.
- The individual contractor can also be fined up to $1,000 plus costs for attorneys fees.
- The board can also – temporarily or permanently – order the contractor to cease and desist all business.
- If the contractor fails to acquiesce to the board’s recommendations, they may be ineligible to apply for a license for as long as one year.
- Any action by the licensee deemed to be deceitful, negligent or fraudulent against the public or in testimony to the board, may lead to permanent revocation of their license.
If the contractor is unlicensed, they cannot advertise themselves in any way. If they do, they can be subject to more penalties. In Louisiana, a contractor can’t even work on projects while their application is being processed. The penalties may also vary slightly depending on whether the contractor was working on a commercial or residential project.
Have you been deceived in any way by an unlicensed contractor? The Smiley Law Firm has experience handling many construction and contracting related cases, and our knowledgeable attorneys will fight on your behalf for fair compensation.