Finding a Contractor
The Oklahoma Construction Industries Board has been set up to assist Oklahomans in finding licensed contractors. The mission of the Construction Industries Board is to protect life and properly by licensing and inspection of the related trades for the health, safety, and welfare of the public.
Construction Industries Board
2401 NW 23rd St, Suite 2F
Oklahoma City, OK 73107
Local: (405) 521-6550
Toll Free: (877) 484-4424
Fax: (405) 521-6525
Office Hours & Additional Information
* Hours of Operation: 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday except on Holidays.
- Ask friends, neighbors and co-workers for contractor referrals.
- Contact local trade organizations, such as the Builder’s Association or Remodeler’s Council for the names of members in your area.
- Contact the vendors who sell supplies to contractors.
- Check Google reviews and other online review sites to gather feedback from previous customers of the contractor.
Hiring a Contractor
When hiring a contractor, watch out for scam artists. You should be especially weary of phone or door-to-door solicitations that promise to speed up the insurance or building process and those who ask for large cash deposits or advance payments in full.
Consumers should also be aware that some rip-off artists may pretend to be employed by FEMA or other agencies. Some traits of scams or con artists can include:
- Lack of proper identification: A FEMA or SBA shirt or jacket is not absolute proof of someone’s affiliation with an agency. Ask to see the laminated photo identification card; if they don’t have it, they are probably not official.
- Going door-to-door: Persons going door-to-door to damaged homes or phoning victims claiming to be building contractors could be frauds. If callers solicit personal information such as Social Security or bank account numbers, they are not official. FEMA inspectors may come to your neighborhood, but all FEMA inspectors will have proper laminated photo identification. Remember, FEMA and SBA inspectors never charge applicants for disaster assistance or for inspections. If in doubt, do not give out information.
- Charging fees to be put on a list or fees to have forms filled out: Some scammers have asked for upfront money to be put on a list or demanded fees to fill out the disaster loan application.
- Offers to increase the amount of your disaster damage assessment: This is not wise and is a sure sign of a scam.
- Asking for cash upfront: Under no circumstances are FEMA and other agency representatives allowed to accept money. FEMA inspectors assess damage but do not hire or endorse specific contractors.
If you suspect a repair rip-off, fill out a consumer complaint application with the Oklahoma Attorney General’s office. You can find the complaint forms at http://www.oag.state.ok.us/oagweb.nsf/ccomp.html. If you suspect fraud, waste or abuse involving FEMA disaster assistance programs, report it to FEMA’s Inspector General’s Office at (800) 323-8603.
In addition to taking precautions to prevent getting ripped-off, the following will assist you in hiring a contractor to get your business up and running:
- Get a written estimate. Compare services and prices before making a final decision. Also, read the fine print. Some contractors charge a fee for a written estimate, which is often applied to the cost of subsequent repairs they make.
- Check references. Contractors should be willing to provide names of previous customers. Call several former customers who had similar work done to make sure they were satisfied with the job.
- Ask for proof of insurance. Make sure the contractor carries general liability and workers’ compensation insurance. If the contractor is not insured, you may be liable for accidents that occur on the property.
- Use reliable, licensed contractors. Call the local building inspector, Better Business Bureau, Home Builders Association, Building Trade Council or the local Chamber of Commerce to see if any complaints have been filed against the contractor.
- Insist on a written contract. A complete contract should clearly state all tasks to be performed, all associated costs and the payment schedule. Never sign a blank contract or one with blank spaces. Make sure the contract clearly states who will apply for the necessary permits or licenses. Have a lawyer review the contract if substantial costs are involved, and keep a copy for your records.
- Get guarantees in writing. Any guarantees made by the contractor should be written into the contract. The guarantee should clearly state what is guaranteed, who is responsible for the guarantee and how long the guarantee is valid.
- Obtain a local building permit, if required. Permits may be required for site work other than demolition and for reconstruction. Contact your local government for permit information.
- Make final payments when the work is completed. Do not sign completion papers or make the final payment until the work is completed to your satisfaction. A reputable contractor will not threaten you or pressure you to sign if the job is not finished properly.
- Pay by check. Avoid on-the-spot cash payments. The safest route is to write a check to the contracting company. A reasonable down payment is 30 percent of the total cost of the project, to be paid upon initial delivery of materials. Federal law gives consumers a three-day “cooling off” period for unsolicited door-to-door sales of more than $25.
- If necessary, cancel a contract in the proper manner. This should be done within three business days of signing. Be sure to follow the procedures for cancellation that are set out in the contract. Send the notification by registered mail with a return receipt to be signed by the contractor.
- Get a written contract.
- Specify the start and finish dates to protect your interests, but realize that bad weather, unavailable materials or other problems may affect these dates.
- Include pay schedules and itemized prices. If you want special materials such as hardwood trim or top grade lumber, be sure this is specified.
- If possible, have a lawyer review all contracts and related documents before you sign.
- Don’t make a large first payment, and don’t pay for the project in full until work has been completed and inspected.
- Clearly state any warranties or guarantees on the work.
- Be sure you and the contractor sign the agreement, with each of you keeping original copies.