Maine Contractor License Search
What You Should Know about Hiring a Contractor in Maine
In Maine, there are more than 31 registered contractors at the state and local levels. Working with a licensed or registered contractor is wise to forestall falling victim to fraudulent contractors. Also, licensed contractors carry insurance and bonds that cover work-related injuries, damages, and uncompleted work, which may cause additional financial liabilities. Hence, verifying your contractor's license and registration can save you from the following:
- Untrustworthy contractors who may run away with your money
- Unreliable contractors who put your family's safety in jeopardy
- Unqualified contractors who are not conversant with regulatory codes and industry standards.
Besides verifying your contractor's license or registration in Maine, you should consider the following issues when hiring:
- Who Is a Contractor in Maine?
- How to Search for a Contractor's License in Maine
- Penalty for Hiring a Contractor Without a License in Maine
- How Much Does a Contractor Charge in Maine?
- Tips for Hiring a Contractor in Maine
- Is Your Contractor Insured and Bonded as Required by Maine Statutes?
- Top Contractor Scams in Maine
- How to Report Fraudulent Maine Contractors
Who Is a Contractor in Maine?
Contractors are individuals or businesses that offer services based on a written or oral agreement. To work as a contractor in Maine, a professional has to obtain a contractor license from the Maine Office of Professional and Occupational Regulation. That does not apply to general contractors. While the OPOR presently issues licenses to contractors in over 4900 classifications in Maine, including painting, carpentry, roofing, and HVAC services, contractors are typically classified into two groups, namely:
- General Contractors are in charge of planning and supervising construction and home or property renovation projects. These contractors coordinate the efforts of specialty contractors engaged in these projects and act as the project owner's primary point of contact. However, general contractors in Maine are usually licensed by local authorities in the city where they practice.
- Specialty Contractors: these contractors are capable of performing a variety of specialized jobs related to building and house modifications, including plumbing, electrical, HVAC (heating, cooling, ventilation, and air conditioning), painting, masonry, and roofing. A general contractor may frequently select specialty contractors to carry out a specific task or provide a particular service related to the construction project. But you can work directly with an expert contractor on duties involving just one job. In Maine, electricians, plumbers, and HVAC contractors are regulated by specific boards under the OPOR.
How to Search for a Contractor's License in Maine
Four thousand nine hundred different classes of contractors are held and licensed by the Office of Professional and Occupational Regulation. Using the Uhire professional licensing search, you may determine whether your potential contractor has a current license. Alternatively, you may also use the OPOR's license search page, which enables you to search for persons, firms, and even disciplinary actions.
Penalty for Hiring a Contractor Without a License in Maine
While the consequences of working as a contractor without a license are not explicitly stated, it is crucial to know that doing so could see you paying fines or even serving a sentence. Additionally, while hiring an unlicensed contractor is not penalized, doing so has a variety of drawbacks, such as:
- Without a license, contractors cannot obtain essential permissions from the local building authorities. If projects are completed without the appropriate authorization, breaking the law can incur financial penalties and reduce the value of your home.
- Most likely, these contractors lack insurance or bonds. That implies that you are liable for any mishaps or property damage that arise throughout the project.
- Hiring inexperienced and untrained contractors runs the risk of getting poor-quality work.
How Much Does a Contractor Charge in Maine?
The final costs for the services of specialty contractors are usually determined by the project's complexity and labor requirements. Specialty contractors typically bill for services between $60 and $200 per hour.
The table below lists the most well-known specialized contractors in Maine along with their usual hourly rates; however, actual costs may differ based on your location and the standing of the contractor in your community:
For a residential or commercial project, more than one specialty contractor is typically required. Hiring a general contractor to manage the entire project makes sense to save time, money, and the hassle of managing numerous subcontractors. Remembering that the general contractor's fees are often based on the project's overall cost is critical. However, this sum, which represents 10% to 20% of the project's total cost, is frequently calculated utilizing one of the methods described below:
- Fixed Price Method: here, the contractor agrees to finish the task in exchange for a particular amount. This approach performs best for tasks with a clear scope and end date.
- Cost Plus Fee Method: in addition to the actual work accomplished on the project, the contractor adds a markup to all services rendered. This strategy is preferred when dealing with major projects that have hazy deadlines. However, it is sage to insist on a defined maximum price to prevent prices from quickly rising.
For building and house remodeling work, you should budget between $150 and $350 per square foot in Maine. The following factors could affect total costs:
- Fees for labor, permits, and other extras
- Cost of necessary services provided by contractors
- The cost of the necessary items, their accessibility, and the conditions at the project site
- Where you are staying
- The nature and scope of the project
- Position and qualifications of hired contractors
Tips for Hiring a Contractor in Maine
Given the amount of money that is typically involved in the design, improvement, installation, maintenance, and repair of a property and its fixtures, it is crucial to ensure that the contractors you choose are qualified for the job. The first step is to understand the project scope and determine the types of contractors needed. Consequently, you should consider the following before hiring any contractors in Maine.
- Always employ state-licensed contractors. Your contractor's license status is available online.
- For your projects, ask for and evaluate up to three contractor estimates.
- Request and verify each bidder's references.
- Insist on a written contract outlining all project needs and commitments before starting work. Make sure you have read and understand the contract before committing.
- Check the contractor's (and any applicable subcontractors') insurance and bonding.
- Never pay for a project in full upfront. For home remodeling projects, never pay more than $1,000 (or 10% of the entire project cost) in advance. Note that Maine law forbids paying more than one-third of the price upfront for all home construction and home improvement projects over $3,000.
- Ensure the work has been completed satisfactorily before delivering the last payment.
- Do not use cash as a payment method.
Is Your Contractor Insured and Bonded as Required by Maine Statutes?
Remember that Maine contractors must have workers' compensation insurance if they employ one or more people. Failing to do so could result in costly fines. In Maine, general liability insurance is also recommended to reduce the risks involved in contracting work, even though it is not required. Surety bonds might be necessary, depending on the project.
You should confirm whether your potential contractors are suitably insured and bonded to protect yourself financially and legally in the event of unforeseen events like bodily harm, unexpected property damage, and contractor errors that may arise during your project. Remember that bonds and insurance offer a variety of protections. The project owner and the contractor are typically insured, protecting the former from covering out-of-pocket expenses related to mishaps and injuries. The main purpose of bonds, on the other hand, is to protect project owners and ensure they are not liable for any harm caused by the contractor's failure to execute the work as agreed.
Before choosing a contractor, always ask for insurance and bonding documentation. Make sure their general liability insurance also covers the scope of your project. Asking for a copy of their insurance (and bond) certificate will enable you to achieve this, and you may confirm it by speaking with the issuer. For more information about insurance for contractors in Maine, contact the Bureau of Insurance at (207) 624-8475.
Top Contractor Scams in Maine
Since there are approximately 6,124 contractor-related scams recorded each year and $13.8m lost. Hence, it is crucial to be cautious about contractor scams in Maine by taking precautions to guarantee it doesn't happen to you. One of the best ways to avoid such scams is to understand how they are perpetuated.
Unreliable contractors frequently use the following strategies to defraud Maine homeowners:
- A door-to-door approach providing a discount for extra work
- Offering free house inspections and then "discovering" problems that need to be fixed right away
- Reducing the importance of official contracts
- Offering contracts that include ambiguous terms or leave blanks that can be filled later.
- Raising the cost of the project
- Demanding total or considerable advance payments and insisting on cash, pressuring homeowners into signing up for services or spending too much for them without doing their homework.
Before engaging contractors, take the following precautions to avoid these frauds:
- Stay away from contractors and unsolicited proposals to renovate your home.
- Use only licensed contractors at all times.
- Get price quotes for your job from various contractors and compare them.
- Always perform a complete background check on potential contractors. Request official contracts, carefully study them before you sign, and check with references to see if they are duly insured and bonded. Additionally, you could research their reputation online.
- Never sign anything you don't completely understand.
- You should request any linked subcontractors and your general contractor to release any liens.
- Limit your down payment to $1,000 (or 10% of the total project cost).
- Avoid using cash as payment.
How to Report Fraudulent Maine Contractors
Maine provides a set of agencies through which you can report contractor fraud and take legal action against dishonest contractors, depending on the situation.
Maine Office of Professional and Occupational Regulation
If you are involved with unlicensed contractors, lack adequate workers' compensation insurance, utilize deceptive advertising, or underpay their employees, you can submit a complaint with the Office of Professional and Occupational Regulation. It should be emphasized that complaints against authorized contractors may also be sent to this agency.
Office of the Attorney General of Maine,
The Maine Attorney General's Office should be notified of any instances of unfinished work, exorbitant expenses, and dishonest business practices resulting in a monetary loss or theft. You can also consider contacting the district attorney's office in your neighborhood.
Small Claims Court
Consider bringing a small claims action against a contractor if they have broken the terms of the written contract. Notably, lawsuits in small claims courts are limited to $6,000 in value. It is best to notify the district attorney's office in your area and the Maine Office of Professional and Occupational Regulation of the problem before taking this step.
Better Business Bureau (BBB)
You might also report a dishonest contractor to the Better Business Bureau chapter in your area. The BBB urges locals to report fraud, complain about service providers, discuss their interactions with companies, and forewarn others about misleading advertising.
The Police Department
It is recommended that you contact the local police station first if the contractor has physically intimidated or stolen from you.