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What Are Vermont Contractors?

More than 800,000 professionals across 50 professions are licensed and regulated by the Vermont Office of Professional Regulations, including architects, landscape surveyors, and real estate appraisers. However, these figures do not include businesses, professionals, and tradespeople that are involved in the state’s construction industry. These individuals and businesses, who are known as contractors, are typically licensed and regulated locally by the various municipalities, counties, and cities in Vermont. Note that certain specialty contractors are required to obtain a state-issued license from several boards under the supervision of the Division of Fire Safety. These contractors include electricians and plumbers, who are regulated by the division’s Electrical Licensing Board and Plumbing Examining Board respectively. Similarly, attorneys in the state are licensed and regulated at the state level by the Vermont Judiciary.

Tips for Hiring a Contractor
in Vermont

On the first impulse, you may want to search for contractors online quickly and hire them once their profiles look convincing enough. However, this may not pan out well in the end, as looks can be deceiving. Here are some steps to take before hiring a contractor in Vermont to ensure that you hire the best contractor available:

  • Find out if the contractor is licensed: While it is easy to assume that the person you want to hire to do any part of your home remodeling job is a professional, it is not always so. Making this kind of assumption can cost you a lot of money. So, before you hire a contractor in Vermont, request a license. You can contact your local consumer protection agency to find out licensing requirements for contractors in your area of residence and make sure that the contractor meets these requirements.
  • Ensure that the contractor is bonded and insured: You wouldn't want to hire a contractor that does not have any form of insurance or bond surety. Home improvement projects come with a measure of risks ranging from accidents to property damage. Working with a contractor with no form of insurance or bond means that you will bear the cost of any damages that may occur. A bond surety and insurance also build trust. You can verify if a contractor is bonded and insured online through the state’s Department of Labor website.
  • Ask for references: A reputable contractor will be willing to give you the contacts of previous clients they have worked with for verification. It is a red flag if a contractor refuses to do so.
  • Insist on a written quotation from at least 3 contractors: It is ideal to contact a minimum of three contractors before narrowing down your choice to one. This will help you to compare and make a better choice. Having all the details of the work to be done clearly written down will also help to prevent any misunderstandings during the course of the project.
  • Agree on payment terms: It is essential that you discuss the terms of payment before hiring a contractor. It is also advisable to never pay more than 10% of the total amount of your project as an advance payment before any work starts. Also, avoid making cash payments.
  • Keep a proper record of all documents: every document that is connected to the project is vital. Document all receipts from the purchase of materials and checks written out to the contractor.
  • Do not make full payment until the terms of the contract are satisfied: Paying for a project before it is completed also means that the contractor does not have any incentives to complete the project on time or properly. Also, if you release the full payment for the job when you are not satisfied with it, you may not get a refund and there are also no guarantees that the work will be revisited.

How to Search a Contractor’s License in Vermont?

Contractor licensing in Vermont is generally handled locally by the respective licensing authorities of the state’s various municipalities. As such, you will be required to contact the licensing authority that oversees the activities of contractors in your locality to confirm the licensing status of these individuals. You can access contact information on the various municipalities and local governments in Vermont via its Town and Cities webpage. However, specialty contractors like electricians and plumbers are required to obtain state-issued licenses from the Vermont Division of Fire Safety. You can verify these state-issued licenses by contacting the Division of Fire Safety’s Licensing Specialist at (802) 479-7564.

At the state level, the Division of Fire Safety administers fines of up to $500 per occurrence to individuals that perform electrical or plumbing work without obtaining the proper license for this work. Locally, the penalties for performing contracting work without fulfilling any necessary licensing requirements are generally determined by the licensing authority that regulates the activities of contractors in the municipality where the unlicensed work occurs. As such, it is advisable to contact your local licensing authority to find out what these penalties may be and whether you will also be held liable for retaining the services of an unlicensed contractor.

How Much Does a Contractor Charge in

In the State of Vermont, the amount charged by contractors differs. This difference is due to factors like the type of work that the contractor is expected to perform, the contractor’s specialty, and the cost of materials required for the job. Generally, contractors in Vermont charge an average hourly rate of $15 - $50 for their labor alone. Some estimates of various contractor hourly labor rates are listed below:

$15 to $28
$15 to $36
$12 to $31
$15 to $41
$12 to $26
Flooring installers
$12 to $29
Heat and air conditioning mechanics
$13 to $28
$15 to $36
$13 to $28
Window and door installers
$13 to $26
Excavation operators
$14 to $32
$10 to $20
Floor layers
$11 to $37

When carrying out a home improvement project, you may require the services of an attorney at some point to take care of different legal works. The hourly charge for the services of an attorney in Vermont ranges between $40 to $200.

What Are Home Improvement
Scams in Vermont?

Per Title 13, Section 2029 of Vermont Laws, home improvement scams refer to situations where contractors fail to fulfill their part of the contracts reached with homeowners, resulting in a loss of funds for these homeowners. Scammers apply different methods to make their targets lose huge amounts of money. Common strategies employed by scammers include:

  • Inflating prices
  • Employing pressure tactics in marketing services they offer.
  • Impersonating building inspectors to demand immediate repair of properties
  • Urging homeowners to take out loans to pay for the project.
  • Rendering services that are not up to standard.
  • Scouting out neighborhoods with recorded natural disaster cases to look for vulnerable targets.

There is a high level of risk associated with hiring a contractor in Vermont. Some of the risks are:

  • Owner's liability: This is perhaps the first risk to consider. Most unlicensed contractors do not have insurance and compensation plans. Without this insurance, whatever liability or bills that arise due to accidents, damages, or breach of contract are entirely borne by the homeowner. Before you hire, ensure that the contractor is licensed.
  • Lack of guarantees: You cannot completely guarantee that the work provided will be of high quality. This is why it is vital to not only get references from the contractor but also contact these past clients and get their personal opinions on the contractor.
  • Possible breach of contract: If there is no surety in the form of a license and insurance, you may find it challenging, getting a refund or seeking redress after lousy work. While it is possible to hire an unlicensed contractor that gets the job done, doing this increases your risk of being held liable if anything goes wrong along the line.
  • Exposure to theft: It is possible to lose your valuables while giving your home a facelift. You have to ensure that you take proper inventory of your valuables while the project lasts.

Vermont residents can report home improvement scams online and also sign up for the scam alert system through the Office of the Vermont Attorney General, or by calling at (800) 649-2424.

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What are Common Home Improvement Scams in Vermont?

Home improvement scams have since been on a steady rise on a national scale, and the state of Vermont is not an exception. Most of these scams in Vermont are targeted at seniors. This may be because these older folks are more trusting and are likely to have good equity. Some common home improvement scams are as follows:

  • Bait and switch: In Vermont, the bait and switch scam is perhaps the most common scam that homeowners face. In this scam, contractors advertise their services at a meager price, thereby enticing consumers, who proceed to contact these contractors. The contractors then give a higher quote to the homeowner. This is done under the guise that the property is worse than expected, therefore, the repair work won't be carried out at the advertised price.
  • Up-Front Payment: Vermont state laws do not prohibit contractors and subcontractors from requesting advance payments. Vermont residents should however watch out for contractors who insist on full up-front payment. Scammers request for a large initial deposit or the total agreed payment before commencing the work. Once the up-front payment is made, these scammers take the money and run away without doing the work.
  • Low price for lousy service: Scammers run ads to offer their services to Vermonters at an unbelievably low price. These scammers then end up providing services that are below standard.
  • Scare tactics: Scammers involved in home improvement scams employ scare tactics all in a bid to make homeowners pay more than the required payment. Be wary of contractors who offer you a free inspection of your property. They more likely will come up with all manner of damages that you will need to repair such as faulty wiring or bad plumbing work.
  • Door-to-door solicitations: Scammers move from one house to the other, soliciting to be hired by residents to carry out different home improvement projects at a ridiculously cheap price. The project is however left undone by the scammer once the homeowner pays the initial deposit.

It is estimated that Vermonters lost approximately $1.5 million as a result of different types of scams in 2020. The state’s Attorney General’s Office maintains a home improvement fraud registry that contains the details of individuals convicted of fraudulent acts related to home improvement fraud in Vermont. If you have fallen victim to a home improvement scam, you can file an official complaint with the Vermont Attorney General's Office.

What are Disaster Scams in Vermont?

Disaster scams in the state of Vermont are scams carried out on vulnerable homeowners whose property got affected by a natural disaster. It is not easy to handle the stress associated with a disaster. Unfortunately, scammers use this period to prey on unsuspecting homeowners by offering repair services that they have no intention of carrying out. Approaches employed by these con artists include:

  • High-pressure sales pitches
  • Unverifiable claims of working for other homeowners in the same neighborhood.
  • Demand for an up-front payment before the commencement of the project
  • Promises by the contractor to provide clean-up services at a highly discounted rate.

To avoid falling victim to disaster scams in Vermont, you can take the following steps:

  • Do not be in a hurry to start any repair work after a disaster.
  • Ask trusted family and friends to recommend reputable contractors that can carry out the required repairs.
  • Be wary of contractors who go door-to-door giving repair offers.
  • Get and compare bids from several contractors. It is advisable to get bids from no less than three contractors
  • Ensure that any contractor you hire is licensed to work in your locality. You can contact your local consumer protection agency to help you with this.
  • Stay away from contractors who want to pressure you into making full payments or cash deposits before starting the project.
  • Always remember that contractors who pressure you to get a loan to pay for their services are most likely scammers.
  • Insist on getting a written contract.
  • Do not sign any contract that is vague or has sections that you do not understand. It is a good idea to retain the services of an attorney to help you do this
  • Hold off final payment until you are satisfied with the work done or the terms of the contract are fully met.

What are Common Legal
Work Scams?

In Vermont, legal work scams are scams targeted at vulnerable individuals who are seeking legal assistance. Scammers impersonate reputable law firms and promise to provide legal aid to enforcement and prosecution-related issues. The common legal work scams in Vermont include:

  • Foreclosure relief scam: a foreclosure relief scam occurs when Vermonters receive messages urging them to make payments to a law firm to modify their mortgage. It will help if you understand that you can only change your loan by renegotiating the terms directly with the lender. Victims of foreclosure relief scams should file a complaint with the Office of the Attorney General, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and the Federal Trade Commission.
  • Lawsuit scam: a lawsuit scam occurs when a Vermonter receives a call or message from an unknown individual who claims to be a lawyer. The scammer then goes ahead to inform the targeted victim that there is a lawsuit against them, and they are the legal representatives to the plaintiff. Scammers may even present fake case numbers and a copy of the final judgment. These scammers typically request personal information and payment from their targets. If you get such a call, request details like the case number and the court where this alleged lawsuit was filed. You can then contact the court to verify if such a case exists.
  • Legal representation scam: this scam involves con artists that take advantage of your need for a legal representative to play a fast one on you. Typical areas you are likely to experience this scam include legal matters that involve immigration, divorce, personal injury, taxation, and disability. These con artists collect fees for services that they are not qualified to provide, and they usually end up worsening your situation. In some cases, unethical attorneys that are more interested in collecting consultation, retainer, and other attorney-related fees from you instead of actually helping you out may also be involved in these scams. Signs to watch out for are requests for large retainer fees, pressure to act quickly, and a preference for cash payments. Always make sure that any person offering you legal advice is a licensed attorney. The Vermont Judiciary provides members of the public with access to a regularly updated list of attorneys that are in good standing in the state.

Vermonters that suspect or have been victims of a legal work scam can report these scams online to the state’s Attorney General's Office.

How Long Does it Take to Get a License in

The estimated time it takes to get a contractor license in Vermont is between 14 -30 days. Note that this time frame is dependent on the type of license required and the licensing authority that is responsible for issuing the license. For example, plumbers, electricians, lift and elevator operators, and boiler and pressure vessel inspectors are required to send in applications two weeks before the monthly board meeting of the Division of Fire Safety. The scheduled date for the board meeting for all the months of the year is released at the beginning of each year. Interested parties can find out these meeting dates online. Applications that meet the requirements are reviewed and approved during the board meeting, and these applicants typically get their licenses within 30 days. As such, contractors are advised to contact the relevant licensing authorities responsible for issuing their desired licenses to find out the processing time and requirements for obtaining these licenses.

How to Maintain Your License Vermont

Although there is no central licensing board for contractors in Vermont, these contractors are generally required to maintain their worker's compensation insurance as well as surety bonds.

Also, some licensing authorities may require their licensees to report any changes in their licensing information and also meet certain continuing education stipulations. Contractors that wish to find out the procedure for maintaining their licenses are therefore required to contact their respective licensing authorities.

Similarly, Vermont attorneys are required to complete 24 hours of accredited continuing legal education every 2 years to maintain their licenses. Attorneys with status changes are also required to report such changes to the Vermont Judiciary. These changes, which include change of name and transfers to and from active and inactive status, can be reported by sending an email to the state's Office of Attorney Licensing. Note that the timeframe to report these changes may differ based on the nature of such changes. Queries related to the relevant timeframes for reporting name, contact information, and other status changes can be directed to (802) 859-3000.

How to Renew a Contractor License in

The validity period, as well as the license renewal process, of a Vermont contractor license is determined by the licensing authority that issued the license in question. Contractors are typically sent a renewal notification before their licenses expire. However, to find out the specifics of the renewal process, interested parties are advised to contact their respective licensing authorities.

On the other hand, attorneys that wish to renew their licenses in Vermont are required to check if they are in good standing and eligible to apply for renewal. Once this has been confirmed, the attorney must file an attorney licensing statement and pay a license renewal fee before June 30th of the reporting year. This can be done online via the attorney portal provided by the Vermont Judiciary. Failure to file the licensing statement before July 1st will result in a license suspension, and the attorney will be required to pay a reinstatement fee in addition to the license renewal fee. Queries concerning Vermont attorney license renewals can be directed to (802) 859-3000.