What Are New Hampshire Contractors?
The Office of the Professional Licensure and Certification (OPLC) oversees the licensing and regulation of over 50 professions in New Hampshire. There are currently more than 223,400 active occupational licenses in the state and this number includes professionals like electricians, electrologists, home installers, septic evaluators, and landscape architects. Professionals that are involved in the construction industry are typically referred to as contractors. In New Hampshire, contractors are typically licensed locally by their respective local governments and municipalities. However, contractors like electricians and plumbers are required to obtain a state-issued license from the OPLC. Similarly, attorneys are also required to obtain state-issued licenses before they can practice law in New Hampshire. The licensing and regulation of attorneys in New Hampshire is handled by the state’s judicial branch. It is estimated that New Hampshire has an attorney to resident rate of 2.6 attorneys for every 1,000 residents of the state.
Tips for Hiring a Contractor
in New Hampshire
Home improvement projects are generally expensive and so it is important to ensure that you hire a competent contractor for your job. Here are some tips to consider when hiring a contractor for your project in New Hampshire.
- Have an understanding of the project you want to do and know the type of professionals that will be needed for the job
- Take bids from not less than three contractors before choosing a contractor for your project
- Contact the local building department in your county to know if the project will require a permit.
- Ask your contractor to present a state-issued contractor’s license or a local government-issued business license for specialty or general contractors respectively and verify the validity of this license through the New Hampshire Online License search.
- Ask your contractor to present you with references of previous customers they served in your locality and verify from them how satisfied they are with the services.
- Ensure that your contractor obtains all permits required by your local government for the project.
- Ask your contractor to show you proof of insurance
- Request that your contractor signs a written agreement on the contract. This should include your expectations from the project, the amount of money to be paid, and how it will be paid.
- Do not agree to pay more than 10%-20% of the total project as a downpayment for the project. Although New Hampshire does not place a limit on how much could be paid as an initial project deposit, it is important that you negotiate and retain as much of the money as possible with you till the satisfactory completion of the project.
- Get an attorney to help preview the agreement and ascertain that all clauses therein are duly written in ways that may be legally actionable if the contractor defaults.
How to Search a Contractor’s License in New Hampshire?
The licensing of contractors in New Hampshire generally falls to local government authorities. However, specialty contractors like electricians and plumbers are required to obtain state-issued licenses from the New Hampshire Office of Professional Licensure and Certification’s Electricians’ Board and Mechanical Safety and Licensing Board respectively.
You can verify local contractor licenses by contacting the licensing agency that regulates the activities of contractors in your municipality. Contact information of these local agencies are available on the online directory provided by the state’s Office of Strategic Initiatives. Similarly, you can look up state-issued contractor licenses via the New Hampshire Online Licensing platform. Alternatively, you can contact the New Hampshire Office of Professional Licensure and Certification at (603) 271-2152 or via email to confirm the licensing status of state-licensed contractors.
Penalties for unlicensed contracting in New Hampshire are generally determined by the local government authority in the municipality where the occurrence takes place. Nevertheless, according to Title XXX of the New Hampshire Statutes, it is a misdemeanor to provide services that require a license without obtaining the required license for the job. Being convicted of a misdemeanor offense in New Hampshire can result in a penalty of up to one year in jail and $2,000 in fines.
How Much Does a Contractor Charge in
General Contractors in New Hampshire charge an average of $24.00 an hour for their services. However, this charge may vary across different municipalities. The type of project and relative technicalities required to complete the project may also determine the pricing of the contractors’ charges. The average charges of some specialty contractors in New Hampshire are as follows:
Some contractors however may wish to charge for their services at a certain percentage of the project cost. It is advisable to get an attorney to help review the conditions offered by the contractor, or the agreement to be entered into. Hiring an attorney in New Hampshire usually costs an average of $51.00 per hour, although some attorneys in New Hampshire charge a fixed fee for some services, which can be anywhere between $50 and $400.
What Are Home Improvement
Scams in New Hampshire?
Over time, a number of fixtures in your home will need repairs due to continued use. These repairs are executed by home improvement contractors. A good number of these home improvement contractors in New Hampshire are competent hands that are certified to deliver these services by the licensing agencies overseeing their respective practices. However, there are occasions where some rip-off artists show up like genuine home repair contractors just with the intent to scam homeowners of hundreds of thousands of dollars. The scam artists may pose as roof repair contractors, driveway repairers, siding installation technicians, electrical repair contractors, etc.
Most common scam cases in New Hampshire involve contractors or their salespersons approaching a home uninvited to make offers for home repairs. They create a scenario that looks like a privileged one-time offer. These contractors or salespersons create an urgency that does not allow the homeowner to compare the offer and other conditions with other contractors or other available offers. Because they aim to make as much money as possible from the deal, they often request a substantial part of the project cost from the victim as a down payment. After collecting this money, they either use substandard materials for the project, or they do a shoddy job. At times they do not even show up to execute the project. Many victims of home improvement scams also later realize that they have been charged far above what the true cost of the home repairs should be.
To avoid falling victim to home improvement scammers in New Hampshire, you should only engage licensed contractors for your home repairs. Request to see the contractor’s license granted by the relevant licensing authority and verify this license by contacting the issuing agency. Be wary of contractors that demand full payment or a large portion of the project cost as the initial payment for home repairs. Also, many home improvement scammers do not want to have a written contract document, and they usually insist on cash payments. Therefore, you should always insist on having a written contract when engaging a home improvement contractor and do not make payments in cash. Retain the services of an attorney to review the conditions of the contract, and remember that you can cancel a home improvement contract within three days from the time you signed the contract. In situations where you suspect a scam from a contractor, you can contact the New Hampshire Office of Professional Licensure and Certification by calling (603) 271-2153.
What are Common Home Improvement
Scams in New
There are a number of crooked ways common to fraudulent home improvement scammers in New Hampshire, and these include theft and other illicit financial complicities. On April 29, 2021, the New Hampshire Department of Justice published the indictment of a contractor for theft of a consumer’s money in excess of $1,500. Home improvement scammers usually target the elderly New Hampshirites because it is relatively easier to convince them to carry out a home improvement project, even when the contractor may not sufficiently prove to be a genuine service provider. It is important to ascertain that any contractor you intend to hire is licensed to offer services. You also need to probe the genuineness of a suggested home improvement project by getting an assessment of the affected areas from not less than three contractors. The under-listed are common red flags to identify home improvement scammers in New Hampshire:
- Random bids: home improvement scammers go out to look for their potential victims and this is mostly done by visiting people’s homes randomly and offering enticing conditions for home repairs.
- High-pressure persuasion: there is always underlying desperation in home improvement scammers when they approach you for a contract. They want you to engage them for the job at all costs so they are unduly persistent when trying to convince you to hire them.
- Scare tactics: home improvement scammers try to create a panic in the minds of their customers by exaggerating the situation to create a sense of urgency and desperation. This is done to make their victims more willing to fulfill all the conditions given by the contractor. Sometimes, the contractors do this by offering a free inspection of your home and then returning with a scary report of the state of your home to compel you to patronize them.
- Undocumented agreements: contractors who are not prepared to do a quality job tend to be evasive when they are required to make documented commitments. They usually trivialize the demand for a written contract. When a contractor starts to get difficult when you ask for a written agreement, that is a red flag.
- Insistence on cash payments: home improvement scammers generally do not want a trace of the transaction because they know they are not prepared to deliver a good job. Electronic payments and bank payment methods usually produce the time payment is made, the name of the receiver, and the amount paid any time it is checked. These will serve as further pieces of evidence to strengthen the claims of the customer against them if the fraud is eventually reported.
In case you suspect a home improvement scam or you are a victim of a home improvement scam, you may file a complaint with the Consumer Protection Bureau of the New Hampshire Department of Justice. This may be done by completing an online complaint form provided by the Consumer Protection Bureau, or by downloading the complaint form, completing it, and mailing it to:
- Consumer Protection & Antitrust Bureau
- Department of Justice
- 33 Capitol Street
- Concord, NH 03301
What are Disaster Scams in New Hampshire?
Although natural disasters are not a frequent occurrence in New Hampshire, there are still cases of natural disasters affecting properties and human lives in the state. There are also situations of manmade disasters in New Hampshire, which are prevalent in many industrialized areas of the state. Scam artists take advantage of these negative situations to further victimize distressed homeowners that are in dire need of home repair services. There are a few tips that may guide you from falling victim to disaster scammers. Some of these are as follows:
- Get sufficient technical advice on any damaged area of your home. Ensure you get advice from not less than three contractors before commencing the repairs.
- Be wary of random contractors who go from door-to-door offering to do home repair services. Most of the time they are not the best option. It is preferable that you work with referrals from reputable persons, especially trusted families and friends, or engage contractors from reputable companies.
- Ask your contractor to give you references, especially of people they have worked for in your neighborhood.
- Ensure that the contractor you want to engage has the required license to operate. You can verify the status of your contractor’s license online through the state’s licensing verification portal in the case of a specialty contractor. But in the case of a general contractor, you may ask the contractor to show you their business license, or the general contractor local license issued by your county, or local government if it is applicable.
- Do not agree to pay your contractor in cash. Payments through checks and or bank transfers are preferable because they can easily be traced and referenced.
- Do not make complete payment for a job until you are fully satisfied with the completed project.
If you fall victim to disaster scammers, you may lodge a complaint by completing the online complaint form provided by the Consumer Protection Bureau of the New Hampshire Department of Justice.
What are Common Legal
Work Scams in New
Legal work scams in New Hampshire are fraudulent activities by unscrupulous persons involving a lawyer or using the identity of a lawyer in exploiting people. Some common legal work scams in New Hampshire are listed below:
- Escrow Scam: escrow ordinarily involves keeping money in the custody of a third party, usually an attorney, until some stated conditions are met. Escrow scams refer to situations where attorneys breach the trust of clients that have entrusted them with funds, usually for property buying and mortgaging. Attorneys may do this by not remitting the money paid by the client to the property owner, or not properly remitting property taxes and insurance per state and local law requirements.
- Legal impersonation scams: legal impersonation scams are situations where some scam artists falsely claim the identity of a reputable attorney, law firm, or government officials in the Ministry of Justice. These impersonators set up fake websites and use spoofed phone numbers and emails to deceive their targets and fraudulently obtain money from them.
Here are a few tips on how to avoid falling victim to legal work scams in New Hampshire:
- Contact your lender or real estate agent to ascertain the validity of an escrow arrangement each time you want to make payment.
- Ensure you confirm the escrow account number from your settlement agent before wiring money. Also, confirm the reception of the funds when the transaction is completed.
- Be wary of calls from anyone claiming to be an official of the Ministry of Justice, demanding money or information. A government agency will not call anyone to demand money.
- Always remember that caller I.D can be faked.
- Do make payment with a gift card, wire transfer, or cryptocurrency if anyone tells you to do so.
- Call the consumer protection helpline of the New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office at 1-888-468-4454 if you suspect a legal scam in any transaction
How Long Does it Take to Get a Contractor License in
The different licensing boards under the New Hampshire Office of Professional Licensure and Certifications determine the licensing prerequisites for specialty contractors in the state, while general contractors are licensed by different local governments and municipalities. Licenses are generally obtained only after all applicable prerequisites have been fulfilled, and interested applicants can contact the relevant licensing board or local government licensing authority to find out what these prerequisites are.
How to Maintain Your License in New Hampshire
New Hampshire contractors are required to maintain their surety bonds and workers’ compensation insurance throughout the validity period of their licenses. If there are changes in their registration information, they are also required to notify their respective licensing body or contact the Office of Professional Licensing online. General Contractors also need to update the County Clerk in their respective counties and cities of changes in their registration information.
On the other hand, licensed attorneys are required to complete 12 hours of Continuing Legal Education annually, and these 12 hours must include 2 hours of ethics. Attorneys in New Hampshire are also expected to conduct themselves in ways that fit to be entrusted with professional issues and can promote the administration of justice in the state, per the New Hampshire Supreme Court’s Administrative Rules. Attorneys may lose their license if they are found culpable in activities, or omissions that violate the standards of professional responsibility. Some of these activities include theft of client’s money, a felony conviction, and violation of attorney-client privilege.
How to Renew a Contractor License in
Contractor licenses in New Hampshire have varied years of validity. For example, apprentice electrician licenses have to be renewed every year, while professional electrician licenses are renewed every three years and professional plumber licenses are renewed every two years. All Specialty contractor’s licenses in New Hampshire are renewed online. Licensees receive notifications for renewal between 15 days to 60 days before the expiration of their license. The renewal process can be done online via the New Hampshire Online Licensing Portal. A contractor renewing online for the first time will need to have a registration code generated by the New Hampshire Office of Professional Licensing. If you do not have a registration code you may send an email to this office, and the email should include details such as name, telephone number, license number, as well as a request for a registration code.
Attorney’s license renewal in New Hampshire involves a three-step process.
- Payment of New Hampshire Bar Association Dues and New Hampshire Supreme Court fees.
- Completion of an online Trust Account Compliance (TAC)/IOLTA form
- Reporting required New Hampshire Minimum Continuing Legal Education (NHMCLE) hours using the Attorney Reporting Tool (ART)
Attorney’s may verify if they have fulfilled the required steps by consulting the compliance section of the NHBar Portal. The deadlines for all the three steps prerequisite for annual license renewal are synchronized to July 1st, every year. The respective local governments have different conditions for general contractor’s license renewal, these may be obtained by visiting the government offices.