Less than 10 percent of Idaho home builders and contractors have signed up for the state’s new contractor registration list that takes effect in January.
The new law requires contractors who do more than $2,000 worth of work a year to register by paying $30 and showing proof of insurance. Unregistered contractors face a fine of $1,000 and up to six months in jail.
About 1,500 contractors received a registration number before Thanksgiving. But state officials estimate there are 17,000 contractors operating in Idaho, based on population and comparisons with other states that require licenses or registrations.
Whether or not the law is enforced, at least to begin with, depends on where contractors do business.
In Meridian, officials told The Idaho Statesman they plan to deny permits to unregistered contractors.
Nampa will have a grace period and issue permits whether or not the contractors are registered, said Dennis Davis, a building official.
Boise officials are undecided.
“Frankly, I’d be interested in how other cities are handling this,” said Bruce Chatterton, Boise Planning and Development Services Director. “What does this mean to homeowners? If you want to hire registered contractors, you may have to do your own homework.”
Besides facing penalties, unregistered contractors might have a hard time collecting bills because they won’t be able to place a lien on the property of a client who didn’t pay.
“That’s a pretty big hammer,” Davis said.
Applications continue to come in and an oversight board is meeting once a week to consider them, said Bureau of Occupational Licenses Chief Rayola Jacobsen.
Jacobsen said the board is trying to expedite all applications, but contractors applying for insurance for the first time may see some delays from insurance companies.
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