The State of Arizona has the toughest guidelines for Contractor licensing that I have seen in my 35 years in this business, but that is good for you, the Arizona Consumer. Now I wasn’t around here in the 70’s and 80’s, but there must have been big time Banditos wearing tool belts riding off in a cloud of dust with bags of homeowners money with guns blazing. This is evident by the bonding, testing, and experience record that is required by all applicants, and the mandatory contributions to the Contractors recovery fund.
The Contractors recovery fund is administered by the Registrar, from which any person ripped-off by a licensed residential contractor may be entitled to an award of up to $30,000. That’s it. Arizona is the only State that I know of that sets a pot of money aside to protect homeowners from shady contractors.
In addition to the recovery fund, each contractor must also supply proof of a surety bond with the amount of the bond based on estimated sales volume (bonds range from 5 to 50 thousand dollars). This bond protects the homeowner from failure of any licensee to build or improve a structure in a manner compliant with the requirements of any building code under the laws of the State of Arizona.
So let’s summarize – in the State of Arizona, the consumer has double barreled protection – one for theft by contractor, and one for crappy construction.
Applicants for a contractors license must also pass two written examinations – one for business aptitude, and one for trade knowledge. The business aptitude test is the same for all applicants, but the trades test changes according to the license that is being applied for. For instance, a full dual residential and commercial test would be different from say a finish carpentry test. I know first hand that these tests are not easy, and I hear that many do not pass the first time around. But, naturally you can keep taking the test until you pass it, so I am not really sure that testing is proof of anything except persistence.
Applicants must also be of good character and reputation. This means that a contractor must not have had a license revoked (in Arizona or any other state) or submitted a bid (of over $750) without a license within 1 year of the application. At least 4 years experience in contracting is also required, and the applicant must list his or her experience record on the application for screening.
Patrick Benkowski, CR
President – Roadrunner Custom Remodeling
Fountain Hills, AZ