Rhode Island Contractor License Search
What You Should Know about Hiring a Contractor in Rhode Island
Although there are over 10,000 contractors with active registrations in Rhode Island, you should always exercise caution and not hire anyone claiming to be a contractor in the state. Before hiring a contractor, it is wise to ensure they are licensed, experienced, and insured. Consequently, your project will be delivered satisfactorily and under approved industry standards. Otherwise, you risk:
- Violation of safety and professional codes can result in costly corrections or penalties.
- Financial and legal liabilities caused by work-related accidents, injuries, or damages.
- Hiring fraudulent contractors that may disappear with your funds without completing the project.
Rhode Island-based contractors are primarily regulated at the state level. However, you should consider the following essentialissues when hiring contractors in the state to help you make an informed choice:
- Who Is a Contractor in Rhode Island?
- How to Search a Contractor's License in Rhode Island
- Penalty for Hiring a Contractor Without a License in Rhode Island
- How Much Does a Contractor Charge in Rhode Island?
- Tips for Hiring a Contractor in Rhode Island
- Is Your Contractor Insured and Bonded as Required by Rhode Island Statute?
- Top Home Improvement Scams in Rhode Island
- How to Report Fraudulent Rhode Island Contractors
Who Is a Contractor in Rhode Island?
A contractor is a person who signs a contract to provide services to customers in exchange for compensation. These contracts can be made either orally or in writing, and their services typically include altering, building new structures, or demolishing existing structures.
In Rhode Island, contractors must be registered with the state's Contractors' Registration and Licensing Board (CRLB). This board also issues licenses to certain types of contractors, such as underground utilities and commercial roofing companies. In addition, specialty contractors like plumbers, electricians, and HVAC are also licensed by the state's Department of Labor and Training (DLT) through its Office of Professional Regulations.
Generally, there are two main categories of licensed contractors in Rhode Island:
- General Contractors: The project's owner usually hires them to oversee all aspects of the construction project, and they are responsible for supervising all subcontractors and ensuring that the work is completed on time and within budget. General contractors must also acquire the necessary licenses and permits, schedule tasks, and obtain materials. Although they mainly handle the day-to-day running of such projects, they may also carry out repairs and construction. General contractors can be categorized into residential, commercial, and industrial professionals.
- Specialty Contractors: specialty contractors specialize and provide services in specific home improvement and construction trades. With their specialized knowledge and experience, specialty contractors can offer their customers high-quality services. They can work independently, or general contractors can contract them to perform specific tasks. The CRLB issues licenses to specialty contractors, like commercial roofing contractors, while DLT issues to trades, such as plumbing, roofing, electrical work, and HVAC professionals.
How to Search a Contractor's License in Rhode Island
The Rhode Island Contractors' Registration and Licensing Board (CRLB) registers and licenses contractors and specialty professionals. Other specialty trades, such as HVAC, plumbers, and electricians in Rhode Island, are licensed by the DLT.
You can check your prospective contractor's licensing or registration status in the state using the Uhire Professional License search tool. You can also verify your prospective contractor's registration and licensing status on CRLB's Registration/License Status Lookup portal. Similarly, you can also check the licensing status of specialty contractors via the DLT's License Search platform. These platforms allow you to look for contractors based on their license number, registration, and name. You will also be required to provide other details about them to perform a proper search.
Penalty for Hiring a Contractor Without a License in Rhode Island
Although there are no penalties for hiring an unlicensed contractor in Rhode Island, you must hire a licensed and registered contractor. There are several disadvantages to hiring an unregistered and unlicensed contractor, including:
- Unlicensed contractors typically don't have insurance or bonding, which can expose you to potential liability for any damages or injuries that may arise during a project.
- They cannot pull permits; without the proper licenses, unlicensed contractors can't carry out home improvement or construction projects. Taking on home improvement or construction projects without the appropriate permits can lead to administrative penalties and possible adverse effects on your property's value.
- You may hire an inexperienced and unqualified individual who will likely make poor decisions and deliver inferior work.
Note that working without a valid registration in Rhode Island is illegal. Non-registered individuals who engage in construction-related work can be fined up to $5,000 for the first offense and up to $10,000 for each subsequent violation.
How Much Does a Contractor Charge in Rhode Island?
Specialty contractors charge around $60 to $130 an hour for their work in Rhode Island. Their hourly rates are affected by various factors, such as the scope and nature of their tasks and the labor intensity required to deliver the work successfully.
The table below shows the average hourly rates that specialty contractors and subcontracted workers in Rhode Island typically charge. Note that the reputation and experience of the subcontractors and your location can affect their actual rates:
Specialty contractors are usually needed for construction projects, such as residential and commercial. Supervising these professionals can be very time-consuming and stressful. A general contractor can handle the responsibilities associated with a project and manage it for a percentage fraction of the cost.
In Rhode Island, the general contractor fees are typically around 10 to 20 percent of the project's total cost. These costs are calculated using the following pricing methods:
- Fixed Bid/Lump Sum Pricing: A general contractor's fixed price typically covers the materials and labor required for a project and a markup. This pricing method is ideal for projects with a specific scope and timeline.
- Cost Plus Pricing: This pricing method is ideal for projects that do not have a clear scope or timeline. The general contractor estimates the required materials and labor and an hourly rate for the subcontractors.
You can pay around $60 to $170 per square foot for a construction, home improvement, or building project in Rhode Island. However, the total cost of the work will be dependent on various factors, including:
- Your location
- Accessibility to the project site
- Site conditions
- Contractor fees
- The urgency of the task
- The project's nature and scope
- The cost of required materials
- The reputation and experience of the contractors involved
- Permit costs, labor charges, and other miscellaneous expenses
Tips for Hiring a Contractor in Rhode Island
Home improvement, construction, and building projects can cost a lot of money. Thus, you must hire the right contractors for these tasks. Before you start working on a project, it is essential that you thoroughly and clearly define the scope of the project and the type of contractors that you will need. Then you should take the following steps before hiring the kind of contractor you need:
- Seek recommendations for contractors from trusted sources like friends, family, or neighbors who have had positive experiences.
- Verify that the prospective contractors are appropriately registered, licensed, and registered with the CRLB and DLT.
- Make sure that all involved contractors and subcontractors are adequately licensed and insured.
- Ask the contractors for references from past clients. Contact them to learn more about the contractor's quality work.
- Request detailed proposals outlining the scope of work, project timelines, payment schedules, materials, labor costs, and any warranties.
- Obtain and compare bids from multiple contractors. Be wary of extremely low or high requests, which usually indicate fraud.
- Ensure the project is complete before making final payments.
- Review the contracts the selected contractor provides carefully and only sign after understanding its terms and conditions.
- Never pay the total cost of the project upfront.
- Avoid cash payments.
Is Your Contractor Insured and Bonded as Required by Rhode Island Statute?
In Rhode Island, it is required for all registered contractors to carry insurance policies that are at least $500,000 for property damage and bodily injuries. These contractors must also maintain workers' compensation insurance for their employees. Having adequately bonded and insured contractors can help minimize the risk of unexpected liabilities, such as property damage and injuries, that can occur during a project.
Even though bonding and insurance are financial tools that can help protect both parties, they have unique purposes. Bonds provide financial protection to the owner of a project if the contractor fails to deliver on its contractual obligations. With insurance, the contractor and the project owner can get coverage from being held liable for any liabilities during the work.
Before you agree to work with a contractor, ensure they have the necessary insurance requirements. You can verify this by requesting a copy of their insurance and contacting their insurer to check if their coverage limits are adequate. For more information about the financial obligations and insurance requirements of Rhode Island contractors, contact the state's Contractors' Registration and Licensing Board (CRLB) at (401) 921-1590
Top Home Improvement Scams in Rhode Island
It has been estimated that nearly 1 out of every 10,000 homeowners in Rhode Island fall victim to scam artists operating in the state. Unethical contractors may use various schemes to steal from their victims. Some of these include:
- Door-to-door solicitation offers their services at an attractive price.
- Employs high-pressure tactics to prevent homeowners from conducting due diligence.
- Deliberately failing to pull all necessary permits.
- Downplaying the importance of written contracts.
- Lowballing estimates only to increase the price when work begins, citing unforeseen complications.
- Demand a large upfront payment or require the total price before work commences.
- Exaggerate the need for repairs or recommend unnecessary repairs to increase the project's overall cost.
Before you hire a contractor for a home improvement project, make sure that you thoroughly research them and take the necessary precautions to protect yourself:
- Obtain and compare cost estimates from multiple contractors for your project
- Avoid paying in cash.
- Verify that the contractors you are considering have been duly registered and hold the necessary work licenses with the CRLB and DLT. You should also confirm if the contractor has ever been in violation.
- Insist on well-detailed contracts and ensure you review them carefully. Ensure it includes the work scope, project timeline, payment terms, and warranties.
- Verify that the contractor has adequate liability insurance and bonds
- Avoid large upfront payments. Limit prices to 30 percent of the project's total cost.
- Keep records of contracts, invoices, and receipts related to the project.
- Ask for a lien waiver if the project involves the general contractor and the subcontractors.
How to Report Fraudulent Rhode Island Contractors
Various agencies in Rhode Island can help you address problems related to home improvement scams and unethical contractors; these include:
The Rhode Island Contractors Registration and Licensing Board (CRLB)
You can report a contractor for unauthorized activities on your project or their fraudulent schemes to the CRLB by completing an online complaint form. This agency does not usually deal with disputes relating to commercial properties.
The Rhode Island Attorney General's Office
You can also report home improvement scams, contract disputes, unfair business practices, and consumer fraud to the Attorney General's Office by completing an online consumer complaint form.
The Police Department
If you're worried that a contractor might physically harm or steal from you, you should contact the nearest local police department.
The Better Business Bureau (BBB)
The BBB is a non-profit organization that aims to help consumers resolve disputes related to contractors in Rhode Island. Reporting suspected fraudsters to your local BBB chapter can help prevent others from being victimized by such contractors.
The Small Claims Court
If you are a home improvement fraud victim and want compensation, you can file a small claims lawsuit. You can only file a small claims lawsuit at the state's relevant District Court for disputes worth less than $5,000. The filing fee for small claims cases is $75.75