What Are Arkansas Contractors?
The Arkansas Contractors Licensing Board (ACLB) is the body responsible for the licensure and regulation of contractors in the state of Arkansas and the Board issues nine different licenses which are broadly classified as commercial or residential. Contractors in Arkansas generally refer to individuals, partnerships, corporations, or similar business arrangements that deal in the construction, remodeling, or improvement of private property or public structures. They also include any person or corporation that supervises such constructions, remodeling, or improvements. Contractors must mandatorily apply for the appropriate license when handling a residential project above $2,000 or a commercial project above $50,000, including labor and material costs. Note that the state of Arkansas grants a temporary license to any contractor who is licensed in another state pending when the contractor’s Arkansas-issued license is ready. Also, the license applications of veterans and active-duty military members discharged within 12 months of application are generally expedited.
However, contractors are not the only professionals licensed in Arkansas. Professional engineers and professional surveyors are licensed by the Arkansas State Board of Licensure for Professional Engineers and Professional Surveyors while the Arkansas Board of Nursing licenses nurses. Likewise, the Arkansas Supreme Court is in charge of licensing attorneys and regulating the practice of law in the state of Arkansas.
Tips for Hiring a Contractor in
Home construction, improvement, or remodeling usually involves different considerations such as the associated costs and the expected outcome of the project. This makes it important to hire a competent contractor to handle your property projects and below are some helpful tips in this regard:
- Have a detailed idea of what you expect from the project. You may outline this in writing if possible
- Consider at least three different bids from three different contractors. More importantly, check the quality of the materials included in each bid as well as the overall cost
- Ensure the contractor you select is licensed in Arkansas. You can verify a contractor’s license through the online license search portal or call the ACLB via (501) 372-4661. You can also make an advanced search on the online license search portal for a quicker and more specific verification.
- Ask the contractor to provide at least three verifiable references
- Ensure that the agreement between you and your contractor is written. The agreement should include the nature of the project, the overall fee, the items paid for, and the payment schedule. You may need the assistance of an attorney in this regard
- Avoid making large down payments. Pay only a fraction of the overall fee, preferably 15% or less.
- Monitor the project and complete the payment for the project when the job is satisfactorily completed
- Keep a file of all paperwork from the project. This includes invoices, correspondences, and any documentation related to the project.
How to Search A Contractor's License in Arkansas?
It is recommended to check the validity of your contractor's license so as not to fall for home improvement scams or incur unplanned financial liabilities for injuries suffered by the workmen on your property. To check a contractor's license in Arkansas, contact the AR Contractor Licensing Board (ACLB) office at (501) 372-4661 or search the database on the Board's website using the contractor's name, ID number, or license number. The search result details the contractor's business name, license status, license type, contact, and specialty.
Arkansas is one of the stricted states in the nation when it comes to licensing professionals. It is illegal in Arkansas for residential contractors to perform a home improvement project where the cost of labor and material is more than $2,000. In the home construction or repair space, the ACLB offers different specialty licenses including residential builders license, residential remodelers license, and 38 other home improvement licenses. Working as an unlicensed contractor in Arkansas is a class A misdemeanor as of July 1, 2020 punishable by a fine of $100 to $200 for each offense, and each day constitutes a new offense.
How Much Does a Contractor Charge in
Contractors in Arkansas generally charge varying fees depending on the project, the materials, and the labor required to execute the project. However, most contractors bill at an average hourly rate between $30 - $80. Below are some contractors and their average hourly rates in Arkansas:
Note that each contractor’s payment structure determines what their wages cover and some contractors may require additional payment for materials beyond a particular price. In addition to this, some specialty contractors in the state may charge you an initial consultation fee that is separate from their normal hourly rates.
Additionally, projects involving a contractor are likely to include written agreements. Therefore, it is ideal to retain the services of an attorney to cover the general assessment of parties’ obligations and other legal areas of hiring a contractor. The average hourly rate of an attorney in Arkansas is between $100 and $300. Note that the attorney’s hourly charge may not cover an initial consultation fee and initial consultation fees typically range from $30 to $75 when charged separately.
What Are Home Improvement
Scams in Arkansas?
In Arkansas, home improvement scams refer to duplicitous methods contractors use in obtaining money from homeowners through home improvement projects. This may include purchasing inferior products at standard costs to make extra profits, leaving the project unfinished after securing a substantial payment, or entirely absconding with large down payments without even working on the project. Home improvement scammers typically target vulnerable people, such as elders or individuals who recently had a part of their home substantially damaged.
When planning a home improvement or remodeling, it is important to be on the lookout for home improvement scammers and avoid them or report them where possible. Avoiding home scammers can be difficult, but it is possible. First, it is important to ensure that your contractor is licensed. In Arkansas, contractors executing any project that exceeds $2,000 in total cost, including labor cost, must be licensed. Also, disregard or properly scrutinize contractors who constantly pressure you to either hire them or agree to a particular method of home improvement. Only agree to hire them if you are certain of their credentials based on their license and positive referrals. In the same vein, only agree to a method suggested by your contractor for your home improvement project only if you understand it or if it has been properly explained by your contractor. This reflects the importance of properly planning and detailing the desired outcome of your home improvement project. Detailed planning makes it easier to reject or accept any suggestions offered by your contractor, regardless of whether the suggestion is in good or bad faith. Additionally, make sure there is a written agreement between you and your contractor. The agreement should typically detail your contractor’s duty, the agreed payment, and the payment structure. Note that it is ideal to hire an attorney to draft the terms of the agreement and also review any changes rather than doing so yourself.
Finally, If you have reasonable suspicion that you are a victim of a home improvement scam, you can file a complaint to the consumer protection unit of the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office.
What are Common Home Improvement Scams in Arkansas?
The Arkansas Consumer Protection Unit reports that home improvement scams are a recurrent problem for consumers in recent years, making it a top 10 consumer issue in the state. While home improvement scammers attempt to scam anyone, they typically target elder citizens because of their general unwillingness to file a consumer complaint after the scam. Scammers also target people that they consider vulnerable to their schemes, like those living alone or living with a disability. Generally, some of the common home improvement schemes utilized by scammers include:
- High-pressure bids: Scammers use high-pressure bids by cajoling you to hire them without giving you enough time to consider other bids, verify their license, or even draft an agreement. They typically infuse a made-up urgency to the situation, such as exaggerating your needs or offering a time-based “discount”.
- Door-to-Door bids: Door-to-door contractors visit your property without any notice and without you requesting their services. They usually offer to perform certain home improvements while offering you mouth-watering perks such as high discounts on the overall cost. In most cases, these door-to-door contractors either abscond after collecting an initial payment or leave the work half done. They are also likely to offer high-pressure bids.
- Large down payment: Contractors that request large down payments are likely to abscond after the payment. Although Arkansas does not have a down payment law, it is advisable to not to pay above 30% of a home project’s overall cost. Also, down payments should not be made until the initial delivery of materials. Regarding this, it is also ideal to include a payment structure in the agreement between you and your contractor.
- Fear: Some contractors request excessive payment by exaggerating the severity of the situation requiring improvement in your home. To reduce the chances of falling for this scam, you should consider at least three different bids and juxtapose the assessment of all the contractors with one another.
- Avoiding written agreements: In the event of filing a complaint about a home improvement scam or instituting legal proceedings, a written agreement is an important document. Home improvement scammers know this and typically try to avoid it. They may claim it is unnecessary or expensive because of the need for an attorney. Any contractor that insists on oral agreements or constantly avoids a written agreement is likely a scammer. It is best to avoid such contractors. Note that homeowners in Arkansas can cancel any home solicitation services within three days of agreeing to the service.
Since 2018, the Consumer Protection Unit of the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office, has continuously advised homeowners to be on the lookout for scammers who attempt to make unnecessary but costly repairs or request large down payments for any home repair. In early 2020, the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office filed a suit against a home improvement scammer for misrepresentation and receiving over $20,000 from consumers without executing any of the agreed projects paid for.
What are Disaster Scams in Arkansas?
Disaster scams refer to deceitful or fraudulent methods scammers use in obtaining money from homeowners who may have had their home partly or wholly wrecked by a disaster. If your home was recently affected by any disasters such as floods, wildfires, or storms, you should be more careful of scammers that pose as home improvement contractors. They typically offer quick repairs at heavily discounted or excessive prices and either abscond with the money or perform an inferior job. Here are some helpful tips for avoiding such scammers and protecting your money:
- Take note of, or document, the areas of your home affected by the disaster and in need of repairs
- Be suspicious of persons who claim to be house inspectors and do not let them on your property if they cannot produce a valid ID. House inspectors affiliated with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) must have an official photo ID and have a disaster assistance FEMA registration number
- Carefully seek contractors that are specially trained to handle the type of work required for fixing the areas of your home that were affected by the disaster
- Be wary of door-to-door contractors
- Check the bids of at least three different contractors and make sure the contractor you choose is licensed
- Avoid contractors that use high-pressure tactics or contractors that request large down payments
- Ensure you have a written agreement with the contractor you hire and document anything related to the project
- Don’t sign an agreement or agree to a clause you are unsure of. You should ideally hire an attorney to help with the agreement
- Be wary of contractors that request your personal information beyond what you are comfortable sharing
- Request proof of your contractor’s general liability insurance
- Ensure the contractor is licensed in Arkansas. You can verify the contractor’s license online or by calling the ACLB at (501) 372-4661.
To report a disaster scam, you can contact the Arkansas Attorney General’s consumer protection unit via telephone at (501) 682-2007 or (800) 482-8982. Note that contractors may increase the general cost for repairs before agreeing to begin the project if the disaster leads to a state of emergency. However, this increase must not be more than 10% of the pre-emergency prices within the first 30 days of the state of emergency. If you suspect or later realize that your contractor increased the cost of repairs above 10% of the pre-emergency price during this 30-day period, you can submit a specific complaint of price gouging.
What are Common Legal
Legal work scam refers to different fraudulent activities by attorneys, paralegals, or individuals claiming to be attorneys under the guise of performing attorney or legal services. These individuals offer or agree to perform legal services, but end up exploiting and defrauding their trusting or unsuspecting clients. Common legal work scams include:
- Real property fraud: This includes cajoling or pressuring clients to buy real property without proper documentation or without following legal procedures.
- Mortgage fraud: This includes advising clients to get a mortgage which the scammers will benefit from and these mortgages are usually fraudulent.
- Client deception: The main purpose of this scam is to persuade clients to be guarantors for a fraudulent scheme: To successfully scam clients this way, scammers give the misrepresentation that the client will get substantial profit from the scheme.
- Attorney/law firm impersonification: This usually involves scammers who claim to be from a particular law firm or an attorney. These scammers typically create fake IDs or documents to create the impression of legitimacy.
Legal work scammers constantly find numerous ways to defraud people. However, some general ways of avoiding falling victim to these scams include:
- Ensure the attorney is licensed. You can check if an attorney is licensed in Arkansas by using the find a lawyer portal maintained by the Arkansas Bar Association or you can make use of the Arkansas Judiciary Online Services portal.
- Have a clear idea of your intended outcome. Attorney suggestions should be based on what you want and not the other way round so you are less likely to be swayed.
- Request clarification from your attorney if you have any slight misunderstanding regarding any advice. If you are still unsure, you may contact another attorney for assistance.
- Be wary of sketchy investment deals that offer a lot of profits or any investment deal that you do not fully understand.
- Ask for at least three referrals to ascertain the competence and good conduct of the attorney. You can also contact the Arkansas Bar Association for further inquiries on the attorney or check review-dedicated websites such as Better Business Bureau. Additionally, you can contact the Arkansas Supreme Court’s Committee on Professional Conduct (501) 376-0313 or (800) 506-6631 to inquire if the attorney has had any misconduct.
- Seek legal advice from a competent attorney and not from a paralegal staff.
- Make payments by check when possible.
If you have been swindled by a licensed attorney, you can file a complaint against the attorney with the Arkansas Supreme Court’s Committee on Professional Conduct at:
- Arkansas Supreme Court’s Committee on Professional Conduct
- Rebsamen Corporate Square
- 2100 Riverfront Drive, Suite 200
- Little Rock, AR 72202
- Phone: (501) 376-0313
- Phone: (800) 506-6631
How Long Does it Take to Get a License in
The time frame with which an application for a contractor license is processed varies and largely depends on whether the application is for a temporary license, a commercial license, or a residential license. Temporary license applications are typically processed quicker than commercial or residential license applications. Note that after providing the required information and submitting an application form, the processing time for a license may be unusually extended if the ACLB needs further clarification on a piece of information or the applicant has to satisfy additional licensing requirements. For example, an application for a commercial contractor license requires the applicant to provide proof of a fully executed $10,000 contractor bond and submit financial statements. On the other hand, an applicant for a residential remodeling license is required to provide a balance sheet covering one full business year.
Regardless, applicants can make inquiries regarding the processing of their license by contacting the ACLB at:
- Arkansas Contractors Licensing Board
- 4100 Richards Road
- North Little Rock, AR 72117
- Phone: (501) 372-4661
How to Maintain your License in Arkansas
Arkansas contractors that want to amend or make changes to their licenses like a name and address change, a license classification amendment, or a license activation, inactivation, and validity extension, can do so by downloading the relevant form online and submitting it to at:
- Arkansas Contractors Licensing Board
- 4100 Richards Road
- North Little Rock, AR 72117
- Phone: (501) 372-4661
Queries concerning the completion and submission of these forms can also be sent via email, via phone number (501) 372-4661, or through fax number (501) 372-2247.
On the other hand, attorneys who aim to maintain their license to practice in Arkansas must satisfy Continuing Legal Education requirements of a minimum of 12 hours of continuing legal education annually. Attorneys can also change or update their information and pay their annual license fees and professional association fees through the attorney portal provided by the Arkansas Judiciary Online Services.
How to Renew Contractor License in
The validity period of a contractor’s license depends on whether it is a temporary license or not. Temporary licenses are valid for only 90 days, after which the contractor must get the appropriate license or apply for another temporary license, while all other contractor licenses are to be renewed annually. The ACLB usually mails a postcard to contractors notifying them when it is time to renew their license and the renewal can be done online or by paper. Note that some online renewals may still require submission of information like insurance certificates via email or fax too (501) 372-2247.
For a license renewal by paper, contractors are to contact the ACLB by email or by phone at (501) 372-4661.
Contractors that fail to renew their licenses may still do so within a two-year period after the expiry date. Note that late renewals attract a penalty of additional renewal fees. Contractors that do not renew their licenses within the two-year grace period become unlicensed and will need to apply for a new license.
For Arkansas attorneys, licenses are typically renewed with the payment of annual license and professional association fees. These fees are payable via the state judiciary’s online services portal. In the event of an online downtime, attorneys may contact the Arkansas Supreme Court Clerk’s Office for information and guidelines on how to pay at:
- Supreme Court Clerk's Office
- Justice Building
- 625 Marshall Street
- Suite 130
- Little Rock, AR 72201
- Phone: (501) 682-6849
- Hours: 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Mondays to Fridays, except holidays