New Hampshire Contractor License Search
What You Should Know about Hiring a Contractor in New Hampshire
Only electricians and plumbers are mandated to carry state-level licenses in New Hampshire, while the relevant city or county authority grants to other contractors. Nonetheless, ensure you work with a licensed contractor in f your projects. A licensed contractor is conversant with all local codes and industry standards to deliver your project satisfactorily. Also, by law, licensed contractors must carry appropriate bond and insurance plans that cover unforeseen liabilities for themselves and their clients. Therefore, in work-related accidents and damages, you are protected from further financial obligations.
Opting for appropriately licensed contractors undoubtedly saves you from the heartaches, injuries , and losses associated with fraudulent contractors. Therefore, when looking for a contractor in New Hampshire, you should verify the contractor's license and consider the following key issues:
- Who Is a Contractor in New Hampshire?
- How to Search for a Contractor's License in New Hampshire
- Penalty for Hiring a Contractor Without a License in New Hampshire
- How Much Does a Contractor Charge in New Hampshire?
- Tips for Hiring a Contractor in New Hampshire
- Is Your Contractor Insured and Bonded as Required by New Hampshire Statutes?
- Top Home Improvement Scams in New Hampshire.
- How to Report Fraudulent New Hampshire Contractors
Who Is a Contractor in New Hampshire?
Contractors in New Hampshire are individuals or businesses permitted to carry out business within the state. They provide agreed-upon services to their clients. These services can range from remodeling and repairing existing structures to building new ones.
While general contractors in New Hampshire are not required to obtain trade licenses before offering their services, specialty contractors like plumbers and electricians must obtain a trade license from the New Hampshire Office of Professional Licensure and Certification (OPLC) through the relevant licensing board.
Two types of contractors operate in New Hampshire:
- General Contractors: These contractors mainly handle home improvement and construction projects on behalf of their clients. They may also carry out other tasks that do not require licensing or specialized skills, like managing specialty contractors. Depending on their specialization, general contractors are typically categorized into residential, commercial, and industrial contractors. A general contractor usually handles all aspects of a construction project, from the initial planning stage to the completion of the work. They are responsible for ensuring the project is completed on time and budget.
- Specialty Contractors: These types of contractors specialize in a specific trade or area of expertise within the construction industry. Typically, specialty contractors are hired by project owners or general contractors to carry out specific tasks on construction or home improvement projects. Note that specialty contractors are referred to as subcontractors if hired by the general contractors. Specialty contractors like plumbers and electricians must hold a state-issued trade license from the OPLC before offering their services in the state.
How to Search for a Contractor's License in New Hampshire
Specialty contractors like electricians and plumbers in New Hampshire are licensed and regulated by the state's Office of Professional Licensure and Certification (OPLC). Uhire's Professional License Search tool can help you find licensed contractors in New Hampshire who can provide you with the needed services. This platform allows users to search using the license number, location, and name of the contractors in New Hampshire. You can verify your prospective contractor license with the OPLC through its online licensing platform. You can search using the profession type, contractor's name, and license type.
Penalty for Hiring a Contractor Without a License in New Hampshire
While there are no penalties for hiring an unlicensed contractor in New Hampshire, it is imperative to be aware of the possible disadvantages of doing so, including
- Hiring an unlicensed contractor can be risky as it can result in substandard services and safety hazards, which could affect your project's success.
- Unlicensed individuals often do not have the necessary bonding or insurance to carry out their work. This can result in you being held liable for any injuries or accidents during the project.
- Unlicensed contractors can't carry out work without obtaining the necessary permits, which means they cannot follow proper construction procedures. This can result in violations, sanctions, and a reduction in the value of your property.
Note that conducting specialty work like plumbing and electrical work without a valid state-issued license in New Hampshire without a license is an unlawful practice that carries a fine of up to $10,000.
How Much Does a Contractor Charge in New Hampshire?
The average cost of doing business in New Hampshire with specialty contractors is typically between $50 and $110 per hour. The scope and nature of your required services will determine the overall expenses.
Below is a list of the typical hourly rates you can expect to pay for various specialty contractors in New Hampshire. Note that the rates may vary based on your locality and the contractors' reputation and experience:
Most home improvement and construction projects involve the hiring of multiple contractors. Properly supervising these individuals can be stressful, so hiring a general contractor can help minimize the time and stress of handling multiple workers, suppliers, and contractors. Typically, general contractors charge their clients around 10 to 20 percent of the total project cost, and they typically use one of the following two methods to calculate their fees:
- Lump Sum Pricing: This type of pricing is suitable for projects with well-defined scopes. This method allows a general contractor to provide a fixed price for all the agreed-upon services. However, this price can also include a markup due to unforeseen circumstances.
- Cost Plus Pricing: This method allows the contractor to charge their clients the actual cost of the materials and labor plus a set amount in their fee. This is ideal for projects with uncertain scopes, which allow them to save money. However, it is essential to establish a maximum amount that the client can expect from the general contractor to prevent unexpected increases in the project's cost.
The average home improvement or construction project cost in New Hampshire is around $95 to $150 per square foot. Various factors can influence the overall cost:
- The project's scope
- Your location
- Contractor fees
- Labor and material costs
- Site accessibility and conditions
- Permit fees and other miscellaneous expenses
- Your contractors' level of experience and local reputation
Tips for Hiring a Contractor in New Hampshire
When planning a home improvement or construction project, you should ensure that the contractor you hire is experienced and qualified. This is because home improvement and construction projects can cost a considerable amount of money. Here are some tips to help you choose the right contractors in New Hampshire:
- Check online reviews and ask for recommendations from trusted sources like friends or family.
- Verify the contractor's credentials to ensure they are appropriately licensed, registered, and insured by requesting their license and insurance certificates.
- Get multiple estimates from multiple contractors for your project. This allows you to compare prices and choose a contractor suitable for your project budget.
- Ask for references and contact past clients about the contractor's work.
- Get a written contract before any work starts. Ensure you thoroughly read and understand all terms and conditions outlined in the contract before signing. Also, ensure it includes detailed project specifications, payment schedule, materials to be used, and any warranties.
- Stay involved and monitor the project's progress by regularly communicating with the contractor.
- Keep records of all agreements, contracts, invoices, and receipts related to the project.
- Limit down payments to 10 to 30 percent of the project's total cost. Avoid paying the full price of your project upfront, and never hire any contractor who asks you to do this.
- Avoid cash payments.
- Request a lien waiver from the contractor and their subcontractors. This will protect your property if the general contractor fails to make its payments.
- Make sure the work has been completed satisfactorily before making final payment.
Is Your Contractor Insured and Bonded as Required by New Hampshire Statutes?
When choosing a contractor, you must ensure they have the necessary insurance policies to protect you from various risks that may arise during your project. Although bonds and insurance are used interchangeably, they differ in how they work. Insurance policies guarantee financial protection to project owners from liabilities caused by on-the-job accidents, property damage, and bodily injuries. Bonds protect the project owner if the contractor fails to meet the agreed-upon obligations.
Hence, before hiring a contractor in New Hampshire, ensure they have the necessary insurance and bond coverages. This can be done by asking them to provide you with copies of documents to confirm the authenticity of their insurance and bond status. Also, confirm if the coverage will be adequate for the scope of your project.
Top Home Improvement Scams in New Hampshire.
Even though home improvement and construction victims in New Hampshire are estimated to be about 0.8 out of every 10,000 homeowners, it is important to always look out for unscrupulous individuals. These individuals often carry out fraudulent schemes to steal money from their unsuspecting victims. Therefore, when planning a home improvement project in New Hampshire, you should always look out for the following red flags:
- Requests a large upfront payment before any work has started
- Offers a suspiciously low bid compared to others
- Lacks proper licenses and adequate insurance
- Refuses or is hesitant to provide a written contract that outlines the scope of the project
- Avoids or is unable to provide references or samples of past work
- Employs high-pressure sales tactics to rush you into making quick decisions
- Demands full payment before the project commences
- Demands cash payment or asks for checks to be sent to a third party.
These contractors are known to prey on individuals who are usually vulnerable to scamming, like older people. To minimize your chances of getting victimized, follow these steps:
- Verify that the contractor is appropriately licensed and insured. Request to see their insurance certificates and confirm their authenticity with the relevant issuing authorities.
- Get and compare multiple estimates from different contractors for your project. Be wary of significantly low or high bids compared to others, as they may indicate potential scams.
- Insist on a detailed written contract that outlines all aspects of the project, like scope of work, timeline, and payment terms.
- Ask for references from the contractor and contact their past clients.
- Avoid paying large upfront payments, and do not pay more than 25 percent of this cost as a down payment.
- Beware of contractors who approach you unsolicited, especially after a natural disaster.
- Never make payments until the work has been deemed satisfactory.
How to Report Fraudulent New Hampshire Contractors
Numerous resources are available to help you identify and address fraudulent contractors operating in New Hampshire:
The New Hampshire Office of Professional Licensure and Certification (OPLC).
You can report an unlicensed specialty contractor for noncompliance to the Office of Professional Licensure and Certification (OPLC) through its Enforcement Complaint Form platform.
The New Hampshire Attorney General's Office
You can report individuals who are engaging in fraudulent activities by filing a complaint with New Hampshire's Attorney General by registering an online account to file it electronically or download a printable complaint form, email, and mail it to:Office of the Attorney General
Consumer Protection and Antitrust Bureau
33 Capitol Street
Concord, New Hampshire 03301
Phone: (603) 271-3641
Small Claims Court
You can file a lawsuit against a fraudulent contractor in a Small Claims Court, a division of the state's District Court. The maximum amount that you can claim in this court is $10,000, and if the money in dispute is $5,000, you will be required to go for mediation first. Note that you must pay a filing fee of $90 if the claim does not exceed $5,000 and $145 if it exceeds it.
The Better Business Bureau (BBB)
The Better Business Bureau can help you identify and address fraudulent and unethical contractors in your area. By reporting such cases to your local BBB branches, you can help protect other residents from getting ripped off by such contractors.
Local Police Departments
When dealing with a contractor who threatens or takes advantage of you, immediately report the incident to the police.