If you ever heard someone, say “we are working UNDER so and so’s license” you may be speaking to a criminal. What! Woo … a criminal? Yes, that is what I said, a criminal. I realize that’s a harsh thing to say. But I also know that too many homeowners are taken for a ride by criminals pretending to be contractors. The fact is that poorly trained workers are injured every day, and millions of dollars in repairs are made year after year. For poor workmanship, for a lack of training, for not having insurance and all the other things that are part of being an unlicensed contractor.
Why did I say, “homeowners” and not commercial owners? Unfortunately, this is largely a residential contractor challenge. The commercial world is very different. It’s much more regulated and the commercial crews tend to be better trained. There are certainly challenges in the commercial world that we need to face. However, this problem seems to live in the residential contracting world. I doubt very much that it’s only a roofing problem. I can imagine every trade is fighting the same fight against unlicensed pretenders.
There is NO such thing as working UNDER someone’s license.
Who knows exactly how this myth began in Arizona? A subcontractor can work under someone else's license. No! Clearly there are several factors that fed into the spread of this mythology. However, and whatever made this our reality is irrelevant to this one simple fact. It is illegal in Arizona to contract without a license. A Sub contractor is still a contractor. Who pays them is irrelevant and anyone who knowingly pays a contractor operating without a license could be aiding and abetting?
Aiding – the giving of assistance or support to someone else in their commission of a crime.
Abetting – the encouragement or motivating someone to commit a crime. This may include rabble-rousing, goading, and instigating someone, or a crowd, to commit an illegal act.
Accessory – a person who actually assists in the commission of a crime committed primarily by someone else. In most jurisdictions, the law distinguishes between an accessory after the fact, and an accessory before the fact, lending additional prosecutorial power.’’ – Legal Dictionary
“… licensees that hire employees must comply with laws governing social security, workers' compensation, unemployment insurance, income taxes, and withholding taxes. Licensees that hire independent contractors must hire only ROC licensed subcontractors. Violation of any of these statutes may result in a license being suspended or revoked. Additionally, the licensure violation of aiding and abetting an unlicensed contractor in A.R.S. § 32-1154(A)(9) may also be a class 1 misdemeanor under A.R.S. § 32-1164(A)” – Arizona ROC
Is this enough?
Certainly now, if you believed people could work under someone’s license number in Arizona. You’ve changed your mind by now, right? This is serious stuff with some serious people enforcing these laws. The only reason more of these fake contractors are not being prosecuted. Is that the ROC does not have enough personnel to chase them down. It’s about that money, right?
” PHOENIX, Ariz., (July 28, 2017) – The U.S. Marshals Service led Arizona WANTED Violent Offender Task Force and Orlando Police Department Fugitive Task Force successfully worked together to arrest one of the Arizona Registrar of Contractor’s (AZ ROC) Most Wanted Unlicensed Entities in Florida, yesterday.” - ROC
The cost is crazy!
The cost of this myth is very real. Unfortunately, the problem is more widespread than most people know. Or would even imagine. The human cost is the most important cost. People get hurt, people die! Working for these fake contractors. Just a guy or gal trying to make a living, doing their best. This is by far the greatest cost.
Poor workmanship cost owners untold millions of dollars every year. Year after year. If the contractor isn’t willing to get a license. Do you think they hire the most skilled people? Or the cheapest people they can use and abuse. They take full advantage of disadvantaged hard working people. They sale the owners on price, being the cheapest contractor comes with a larger cost. At the end of the day, their crews are not trained, and the work is shoddy at best.
Cost to the industry. I HATE HATE HATE those news cast about “bad contractors!” They always end with the supposed contractor not being a contractor at all. They have no license, no insurance, they run a shady business from a storage unit or something. The rest of the industry, the good guys. Get a black eye for this stuff. It is very unfortunate that contractors doing it right. Must take a beating for the acts of a fake contractor.
How does it happen
As I said, it’s all about the money.
The ROC and other enforcement agencies don’t have the budget to employ enough people to fully enforce the law in a big and impactful way.
The fake contractors be they the prime or the sub, do work cheap. REALLY CHEAP … sometimes less the cost of the materials.
Owners end up being sold on the lower cost. Believe me, I know the feeling of losing a job to an unlicensed guy whose price wouldn’t even cover materials cost. It has happed to me hundreds of times over the years. And It makes me angry every time! Not so much for losing the job, but for the fact that I know the fake contractor is going to take advantage of them. And I can’t stop it. Trying would only make me appear to be a bad loser. The same is true of every good contractor who is trying to do it right.
How do we solve the problem?
If you are the owner, you are in the greatest position to change things. You pay the bills and at the end of the day it is all about the money. Like it or not, you’ll need to be open to paying more for a contractor who is doing it right. One that carries the right license, has insurance coverage, and trains their workers. One that will do the job right and if not, you will have immediate recourse to take actions if needed. Without an ROC number, you have nothing.
You may not want to pay more but if you don’t pay more now. You are likely to pay much more over the next few years. Repairs are expensive, frustrating and tend to be unsuccessful on a roof. The number one cause of a roof leak is poor instillation.
Where can you find the good ones?
You can search for any contractor on the ROC’s website. You can also search for contractors on directories on the trade’s associations websites. For Roofing that would be The Arizona Roofing Contractors Association, Western States Roofing Contractor’s Association and The National Roofing Contractor’s Association. And, if you need a specialty contractor. Ask the manufacture of the products you need installed. Most of them have some sort of certified contractor program.
Don’t hire subs without an ROC license. Be willing to pay a skilled trades person to do the work right. Its really is that easy. Eventually, doing it right, WILL make you much more money. If you feel alone and need some help. There is help out there. Reach out to me and let me help you get started.
What do you think?
I am interested in your thoughts in the subject. Especially if you have any personal experience stories. From owners or contractors who learned the hard way, that you can’t work under someone’s license. The discussions start here.