What Are Utah Contractors?
The Division of Occupational and Professional Licencing (DOPL) handles the licensure of approximately 60 categories of professionals in the state, including contractors like electricians, plumbers, and carpenters. Contractors in Utah are individuals that provide home and property improvement services. Per state law, all general contractors in Utah are required to obtain a state-issued license to be able to take up construction jobs. However, contractors are not the only professionals that are required to obtain a state-issued license in Utah. Other professionals such as attorneys and teachers are licensed by the Utah State Bar and Utah State Board of Education respectively. There are currently over 13,100 licensed attorneys in Utah.
Tips for Hiring a Contractor
Contracting the right person for home improvement is the only way to avoid overcharging, poor services, and potential court cases. Below are some useful tips to consider when hiring a new contractor:
- Only deal with contractors that have obtained their licenses. You can verify contractor licenses online through the DOPL’s Licensee Lookup and Verification System.
- Make sure that the contractor also has liability insurance and verify the information by contacting the insurance company.
- Ask contractors to provide a summary of the job, the estimated cost of completing the project, and materials to be used in the process.
- Always get estimates of projects from multiple contractors.
- Request for references, reports, or reviews of past projects from potential contractors.
- Inquire about the credibility of the business from the Utah Division of Corporation and Commercial Code business search portal.
- Avoid upfront payments and wait until you are satisfied with the project.
- Request for a lien waiver before the contractor starts the project.
Per the Utah Consumer Sales Practices Act, residents of Utah have the right to cancel a home repair if the agreement was based on a false testimony made by the contractor. In many cases, this may include a claim that you need immediate repair. Citizens of Utah can cancel the agreement any time before midnight of the third business day. If you suspect a home improvement fraud, report it to the Division of Consumer Protection by calling (801) 530-6601.
How to Search a Contractor’s License in Utah?
Contractors in Utah are statutorily required to obtain a requisite license from the state’s Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing, and it is your responsibility to make sure that your preferred contractors have met these requirements before retaining their services. You can do this by utilizing the online License Lookup and Verification System provided, and maintained, by the DOPL. Searches can be done on this system either by name and profession or by license number.
Title 58, Chapter 55, Part 5 of the Utah Code stipulates acts that are considered unlawful and unprofessional with regards to contractors in the state. Accordingly, contracting without a state-issued license is illegal in Utah, and violating this law can result in a fine of up to $1,000. This fine increases to a maximum of $2,000 for second-time offenders, and up to $2,000 per day for any subsequent offenses.
Does a Contractor Charge in
The estimated cost of hiring contractors and completing a project may vary depending on the profession of the contractor and the amount of work required to complete the project. The average estimated cost for hiring a contractor in Utah is between $15 - $80 per hour. The cost of hiring various types of contractors for an hour in the State of Utah include:
Members of the public should understand that contractors with more qualifications, education, and certification may demand more than the average pay to complete a project. In addition to hiring a contractor, citizens of Utah may require the services of attorneys to ensure that agreements with contractors are properly documented. The average cost of hiring an attorney in Utah is $70 - $200 per hour.
What are Home
Scams in Utah?
When you are trying to hire someone for home improvement work, there is always a possibility that the contractor is an unscrupulous individual trying to steal your money through deceptive methods which include:
- Not showing up to complete the job once payment is received
- Recommending home repair when it is not needed
- Using inferior materials to ensure that you need their services again in the nearest future
- Deliberately slowing down work to increase labor cost
A home improvement scam is the use of any of these methods to steal money from innocent citizens. While it is difficult to eliminate home improvement scams, you can avoid falling into one by taking the following steps. First, you have to research the project to know if it is something you can take up immediately. Also, you need to ensure that the contractor is licensed. Note that hiring an unlicensed contractor may void insurance coverage, meaning that you will bear the cost of unforeseen circumstances such as accidents and injury. Finally, do not sign any agreement that you do not understand. Fake contractors may go as far as putting residents of Utah in financing agreements that put their homes at risk.
The Utah Division of Consumer Protection advises consumers to request references, insurance, and license before hiring a contractor. If a scam is suspected, report to the Department by calling (801) 530-6601. In addition to this, the DOPL maintains a license lookup and verification system that residents of the state can utilize to verify contractor licenses.
What are Common Home Improvement Scams in Utah?
With scammers evolving new tricks, consumers are advised to always exercise caution before contracting anyone for home improvement work in Utah. Home Improvement scams are mostly targeted at elderly citizens of Utah. Common tactics used by home improvement scammers include:
- Scare Tactics: Scammers employ scare tactics to trick citizens into paying for services they do not need. An example of this is exaggerating the extent of damage to a particular part of a so that they can provide repair services to the homeowner.
- Limited Offer: Home improvement scams often include claims that offers are limited and you need to act immediately. Scammers make targets believe that the repairs or upgrades they are offering are once-in-a-lifetime offers.
- Door to Door Solicitation: Scammers often visit residents of the state, offering to perform several home improvement services such as pain painting, roofing, plumbing, etc. These services are offered at discounted prices to trick residents into signing up for them. Once payment is received, scammers never show up to do the job.
Home improvement scams prevalent in Utah include:
- Home Security System Scams: In Utah, home security system scams occur when individuals claiming to represent home security or alarm companies promise residents security system upgrades but never fulfill their promises. The plan is to trick consumers into buying expensive, and sometimes inferior systems that are not necessary. If this type of scam is suspected, report it to the Division of Consumer Protection by calling (801) 530-6601. Before contracting a home security system worker or company, consumers are advised to find out about the business from the State Attorney General. Members of the public may also seek assistance from the Security Industry Alarm Coalition (SIAC) to obtain information on unlawful practices or programs that are prevalent in their locality.
- Drain cleaning scams: Where fake contractors target women that are alone, widowed, or divorced, and promise to help them repair or clean their drainage system. Drain cleaning scams are one of the prevalent plumbing scams in Utah. The plan is to get as much money as possible from the victims. If this type of scam is suspected, report it to the state’s Consumer Protection Division by calling (801) 530-6601.
- Solar energy scams: Where contractors target citizens of Utah and try to sell rooftop solar panels to them. Most of these sales offers are not real. Scammers receive money for equipment but choose to offer inferior panels to consumers. To fight against the scourge of solar energy scams, the State created the Rooftop Solar website to help citizens understand what type of equipment they need and avoid getting scammed. Solar energy scams can be reported to the DOPL by completing and submitting a complaint form online.
- Diversion scams: Where contractors deprive project owners of some of the materials they paid for. In Utah, some contractors ask you to pay for materials only to divert these materials for personal use. Citizens of Utah should always be vigilant by inspecting the purchase and use of project materials themselves. Always request the invoice of any purchase made in relation to your project. If you suspect this scam, contact the DOPL and register a complaint.
Utah allows down payment for construction projects. However, per state law, consumers are allowed to retain up to 5% of each payment estimate submitted by the contractor. All retention proceeds must be paid once the contractor completes the job.
What are Disaster Scams in Utah?
Utah disaster scams are scams targeted at residents whose homes and property were affected by a disaster. Scammers often deceive people trying to recover from natural disasters by promising repairs, debris removal, donations, or even rental listings. Contractor-related disaster scams in Utah include price gouging, deception, and diversion of materials. The Division of Consumer Protection advises citizens to be mindful of contractors promising immediate support or services in the aftermath of a disaster. You can avoid disaster scam by doing the following:
- Ask family and friends to recommend reputable home improvement contractors to you
- Always Verify the license of a potential contractor
- Take your time to consider more than two contractors
- Do not make full payment until the project is completed
- Avoid making any payments in cash and ask for a receipt anytime you make a payment
- Get a written contract for the project and make sure it contains the warranties, guarantees, and promises made by the contractor.
Residents of Utah should always be on the lookout for scam indicators. If you suspect a scam, report to the Consumer Protection Division by calling (801) 530-6601.
What are Common Legal
Work Scams in Utah?
Legal work scams include all forms of fraudulent attorney-related services that aim at stealing money from unsuspecting citizens. These scams may be committed by an attorney or an imposter pretending to be an attorney. Common legal scams in Utah include:
- Inheritance scams: Where someone calls and says you can claim a large inheritance from a deceased wealthy benefactor or a distant relative. The caller, who poses as the attorney of the deceased, claims that you are the only beneficiary of this person’s estate. In many cases, the caller tells you that the payment of a fee is required to resolve an issue with the account of the deceased before you can claim the inheritance. Inheritance scams aim to either obtain money in the form of an upfront fee or personal information from you. If you receive such calls, seek the advice of an independent attorney and trusted family and friends before proceeding with whatever request the caller made.
- Living trust mills: Where someone posing as a legitimate financial adviser or estate planning attorney promises to create a proper living trust but fails to live up to expectations. Scammers often lie about their expertise and knowledge on living trusts and how they work. In many cases, scammers claim that buying a living trust completely protects your estate from probate-related matters. However, this is not true. These scams are usually targeted at residents of Utah who are above 50 years of age.
Some ways you can avoid falling victim to legal work scams in Utah include:
- Ask for an attorney license and verify the information using the membership directory search tool.
- Report unsolicited calls offering you legal services where you do not need one to the Utah State Bar by calling (801) 531-9077
- Do not give personal information to strangers even if they claim to be attorneys
- Do not forget that you have the right to cancel consumer transactions that take place outside appropriate business premises.
If you suspect a legal work scam, report it by filing a complaint with the Office of Professional Conduct. You can report an attorney by downloading, completing, printing, and mailing a complaint form to:
Office of Professional Conduct
645 South 200 East
Salt Lake City, UT 84111
How Long Does it Take to Get a Licence in
The Utah Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing takes approximately 10 - 15 working days to process most applications. Note that this timeframe is affected by factors like the division’s workload and whether or not the application was submitted correctly and completely. Contractors that have not received a response four to six weeks after applying for a license are advised to contact the DOPL by calling (801) 530-6628.
How to Maintain your License in Utah
Utah contractor licenses are valid for two years and during this time, contractors are required to provide proof of liability insurance, continuing education, and financial responsibility. Contractors are also allowed to maintain or update their license information in Utah. Updates to contractor licenses can be done online. Note that to perform a name change online, contractors must provide a copy of their marriage certificate, divorce decree, driver's license, or social security card to the DOPL. Contractors who desire to reprint a copy of the license bearing the name change must include a $10 reprint fee with the request. Contractors may also submit written requests for record updates through the U.S. Postal Service to:
- Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing
- P.O. Box 146741
- Salt Lake City, UT 84114-6741
In Utah, attorneys may maintain and update their licenses following the provisions of the State Bar. Except for name changes, other contact information updates can be done online via the attorney’s practice portal. To change the legal name on a license, attorneys must submit a completed name change request form along with a copy of a legal document, such as a marriage certificate or a divorce decree, showing the new name via mail to:
- Utah State Bar
- Attorney Licencing Department
- 645 South 200 East
- Salt Lake City, UT 84111
Finally, all active attorneys in Utah are required to complete a minimum of 24 hours of approved CLE credits annually. 12 hours must be done in person and a total of three hours must be used to obtain credit in ethics.
How to Renew Contractor License in
Contractor licenses in Utah are valid for two years, and after this time, both active and inactive licenses must be renewed after two years. The DOPL issues a renewal notice to the holder of a license at least 60 days before the expiration of the license. Contractors may renew a license online via the division’s license renewal system or in person at:
- Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing
- Herbert M Weils Building
- 1st Floor Lobby
- 160 East 300 South
- Salt Lake City, UT 84111
Before a new license is issued, the DOPL requires applicants to provide the following:
- Unexpired general liability insurance certificate
- Unexpired certificate of workers compensation insurance
- Renewal fee of $114
- Proof of completed 6 hours of continuing education.
Similarly, attorney licenses are valid for one year in Utah. Attorneys with an active, inactive, or current license may apply for renewal beginning from the first or second week of June through August each year. Renewal may be completed online through the state bar’s practice portal. Note that the online renewal process only accepts payment by Mastercard and Visa. Attorneys that wish to make payment by check must complete the online renewal process, print an invoice, attach a check, and then mail it to:
- Utah State Bar Attorney Licensing Department
- 645 South 200 East
- Salt Lake City, UT 84111