What Are Louisiana Contractors?
Louisiana contractors are individuals that are involved in the construction, alteration, repair, improvement, and demolition of structures. This includes masons, carpenters, painters, plumbers, electricians, and concrete workers. The Louisiana State Licensing Board for Contractors currently licenses and regulates more than 25,980 contractors across the state. This board issues four types of licenses to contractors, which are:
- Commercial license: this license is required for commercial projects that cost $50,000 or more, plumbing, electrical, and mechanical projects that cost $10,000 or more, and projects involving hazardous materials-related projects that cost $1 or more. Note that these total costs include labor and materials.
- Residential license: this license is required for residential building and home improvement projects that cost more than $75,000 in labor and materials. However, residential subcontractors that wish to perform work on residential specialty trades like roofing, masonry and stucco, foundations, pile driving, and swimming pools, must also obtain this license if the project costs more than $7,500.
- Mold remediation license: this license is required for mold remediation projects that cost $1 or more.
- Home improvement registration: this registration is required for home improvement projects that cost more than $7,500 but less than $75,000, including labor and materials. However, contractors that have valid commercial or residential licenses are exempt from this registration.
Similar to contractors, several other occupations and professions in Louisiana are also licensed and regulated by various agencies. For example, dentists and dental hygienists are licensed and regulated by the Louisiana State Board of Dentistry, midwives and physicians are licensed and regulated by the Louisiana State Board of Medical Examiners, and attorneys are licensed and regulated by Louisiana State Bar Association. According to the American Bar Association’s annual legal profession profile report for 2020, Louisiana has one of the highest attorneys per resident rates in the country, with 4.4 active attorneys for every 1,000 residents.
Tips for Hiring a Contractor
Before you hire a contractor in Louisiana, it is necessary to take certain steps to ensure that you get value for your money. These steps are:
- Properly plan your project. Have a clear idea of what it entails, what you want done, and the type of contractor that you will need to accomplish this
- Get at least two to three estimates from different contractors and compare the cost and quality of materials for each estimate. Make sure that these estimates include the total cost of the project, the types of materials that will be used, an expected timeline for the completion of the project, and a payment plan
- Make sure that your contractor is properly licensed on registered. You can verify your contractor’s licensing or registration status online or by texting either the contractor's name, license number or company name to 1-855-999-7896.
- Request at least three references from the contractor, contact these references, and get their opinions on the contractor
- Request a written contract. Per Louisiana Revised Statutes 37:2175.1, a written contract is mandatory for any home improvement project that costs more than $1,500 but less than $75,000. However, it is always a good idea to insist on a written contract, regardless of the cost of your project
- Make sure that any contract you are given contains the name, address, and license number of the contractor, a detailed description of the work that is to be done and the materials that will be used, a timeline for the completion of the work, and a schedule for payments.
- Never sign any contracts that you do not fully understand. It is always a good idea to retain the services of an attorney to help you review any contract that you are given before you sign it. Also, insist that any changes made to the contract after signing are done in writing
- Do not make large down payments for the project. Always limit any initial payments to 25% of the total cost of the project
- Monitor the progress of the work that is being done
- Do not make final payment until you are satisfied with the completed work. You should also make sure that any and all liens have been released before you do so
- Properly document all paperwork related to the project. This includes contracts, bills and invoices, correspondence with your contractor, photos of the project in progress, and receipts of payment.
How to Search A Contractor's License in Louisiana?
You can verify your contractor's license in Louisiana using the Online Contractor Search portal of the Louisiana State Licensing Board for Contractors (LSLBC). A quick search can be performed by criteria including the contractor's name, license number, city/town, parish, and specialty.
General contractors in Louisiana are mandated to carry a state-level license issued by LSLBC once the cost of labor and material is beyond a certain threshold. Residential contractors in Louisiana need a license to perform contracts that exceed $75,000 while subcontractors must carry a license for projects above $7,500 in material and labor, unless it involves hazardous materials or mold. Contractors dealing with mold or hazardous materials are required to carry a license regardless of the cost of the work.
In accordance with the state's statue RS 37:2160, it is a misdemeanor to contract without appropriate license in Louisiana. This is punishable by a fine of up to $500 for every day of violation, three month jail time, or both.
How Much Does a Contractor Charge in
The average hourly rate for hiring a contractor in Louisiana is $60 - $100. Contractor costs typically depend on variables like location, the type of work that has to be done, the cost of the materials required for this work, and the labor intensity of the job. Listed below are estimates of hourly rates for some common contractors in Louisiana:
It may also be pertinent to retain the services of an attorney when carrying out construction or home improvement projects to review written contracts and perform other relevant duties. Louisiana attorneys typically charge hourly rates or flat on-off fees for their services. Hourly rates usually fall between $200 and $500, while flat fees may range from $150 to $1,000. Note that attorney fees generally depend on the level of experience of the attorney that you intend to hire as well as the complexity of the matter in question.
What Are Home Improvement
Scams in Louisiana?
Per Louisiana Revised Statutes 14.202.1, home improvement scams refer to situations where residential or home improvement contractors misappropriate or intentionally take anything of value from a homeowner through fraudulent conducts, practices, or representations. Home improvement in the United States is a multibillion-dollar industry, with American homeowners spending approximately $400 billion annually on residential renovations and repairs. Unsurprisingly, this industry also attracts exploitative contractors that expose unsuspecting homeowners to the risk of losing their hard-earned money to various home improvement scams.
A home improvement scam is said to occur in Louisiana when any of the following happens:
- The contractor fails to perform any work during a 45 day period or longer after receiving payment
- The contractor uses pretenses, false promises, or any other forms of deception to enter into a home improvement or residential construction contract
- The contractor intentionally damages the property of a homeowner to induce this homeowner into entering a home improvement or residential construction contract
- The contractor either does not possess or knowingly employs a subcontractor that does not possess the required license or registration for the project
- The contractor intentionally makes a material misrepresentation of fact concerning any permits required for the job or any liens placed on the property in question
It is always in your best interest to insist on a written contract for any home improvement or repair project that you wish to undertake. Get an attorney to review this contract and make sure that it does not have any unfavorable clauses or loopholes. You should also properly verify the licensure or registration of any contractor that you intend to hire, especially if the project costs $7,500 or more. Never make cash payments for any project and never pay the full cost of any projects before the job is completed.
If you suspect that you have been contacted by a fraudulent contractor or that you have been the victim of a Louisiana home improvement scam, you can file a complaint with the Louisiana State Licensing Board for Contractors online or by mailing a Consumer Complaint Form to:
- Louisiana State Licensing Board for Contractors
- Attention: Residential Compliance
- 600 North Street
- Baton Rouge, LA 70802
This form can also be submitted via email or fax to (888) 510-0129.
Finally, you can also file complaints concerning home improvement scams with the Consumer Protection Section of the state’s Attorney General’s Office online, by calling (800) 351-4889, or by mailing a completed Consumer Dispute Form to:
- Office of the Attorney General
- Consumer Protection Section
- P.O. Box 94005
- Baton Rouge, LA 70804-9005
What are Common Home Improvement Scams in Louisiana?
Contractors that are involved in residential contractor fraud and home improvement scams in Louisiana use several techniques and methods to carry out their activities. Sadly, these activities are mostly directed at senior residents of the state, who are considered easier targets by these scammers. As such, it is important to educate not only yourself but also your elderly loved ones on the various tell-tale signs of a home improvement scam. Spotting these signs can save you from the substantial emotional and financial distress that comes with being a victim of these scams. The warning signs of a Louisiana home improvement scam are:
- Door-to-door solicitations and high-pressure sales tactics: Be wary of contractors that show up unannounced on your doorstep and offer to perform home improvement or repair services. In many cases, these contractors may also employ sales tactics that are designed to pressure or scare you into employing them. This may include making up unbacked claims about the services that they provide or exaggerating a required repair that your home needs
- Cash payments and large upfront payments: Although Louisiana has no statutory limitations on the amount of money that a contractor can request as a down payment for home improvement and residential construction projects, it is always a good idea to limit this amount to 10% - 25% of the cost of the project. You should also consider it a red flag if the contractor insists on cash payments
- Extremely low bids and special deals: If a contractor offers you an unusually low estimate for your project, this contractor may be only interested in collecting payment for the job without doing any work or doing a very shoddy job. Sometimes the contractor may claim that you qualify for special offers and one-time deals. Always compare estimates from at least two or three contractors before commencing a home improvement or residential construction project. You should also be wary of any deals or offers that seem too good to be true
- Inadequate references: You should never hire a contractor that cannot provide you with at least three verifiable references. It is also a huge red flag if a contractor cannot provide a verifiable local business address or local telephone number
- Verbal agreements: Be wary of any contractor that tries to convince you that a verbal or oral agreement is enough and that you do not need to bother with a written contract. Even though written contracts are only statutorily required for home improvement projects that cost more than $1,500 and less than $75,000, you should always insist on getting on, no matter the total cost of your project. It is also advisable to get an attorney to review these written contractors before you append your signature to them.
The Louisiana State Licensing Board for Contractors has documented over 1,600 contractor violations in matters ranging from performing residential contracting and home improvement work without the required license or registration to bidding for projects without an active license. In many cases, the contractors involved in these violations entered "no contest pleas" and received fines. Similarly, the state’s Attorney General’s Office has recovered more than $170 million for Louisiana taxpayers in various consumer-related matters including residential contractor fraud and home improvement scams. Under state law, contractors that are found guilty of these offenses can face the following penalties:
- A jail term of not more than six months, a fine of not more than $1,000, or both, for matters that involve less than $1,000. However, if the contractor in question has been previously convicted for theft two or more times, then this penalty increases to a jail term of not more than two years or a fine of not more than $2,000
- A jail term of not more than five years, a fine of not more than $3,000, or both, for matters that involve more than $999 but less than $5,000
- A jail term of not more than 10 years, a fine of not more than $10,000, or both, for matters that involve more than $4,999 but less than $25,000
- A jail term of not more than 20 years, a fine of not more than $50,000, or both, for matters that involve $25,000 or more
Note that in addition to these penalties, contractors that are found guilty of home improvement scams will also be required to make full restitution to their victims and any other person that suffered a financial loss in the matter. This restitution includes the cost of repairing any shoddy or improper work that was done and completing any work that was paid for but left uncompleted. As such, you should always report any suspected home improvement scams to the Louisiana State Licensing Board for Contractors and the Louisiana Attorney General’s Office. This way, you can get adequate compensation and also ensure that the fraudulent contractor is appropriately punished.
What are Disaster Scams in Louisiana?
Natural disasters in Louisiana are a magnet for con artists and scammers hoping to prey on residents of the state that are down on their luck and have let their guard down. These scammers typically come disguised as official disaster aid workers or qualified home repair contractors. As such, if your home has been affected by a disaster, it pays to stay alert when hiring a contractor to carry out much-needed repairs to avoid falling victim to a disaster scam. You can do this by taking the following steps:
- Never be in a rush to hire a contractor. Always get and compare estimates or bids from at least three contractors
- Find out and verify the contractor’s business address
- Request references. If possible, you should also inspect work and projects that the contractor has completed
- Verify the contractor’s licensing or registration status. Note that Louisiana requires mandatory contractor licensing or registration for all home improvement projects that cost more than $7,500 and residential building and construction projects that cost more than $75,000
- Make sure that the contractor is properly insured and bonded. You can do this by contacting the contractor’s insurer and bonding company and confirming the details of the contractor’s coverage
- Never make a down payment of more than 10% - 25% of the total cost of your project. If possible, you should accompany the contractor to the building supply store, pay for the materials required for the project yourself, and have them delivered to the work site instead of the contractor's office or shop
- Be specific about your requirements and expectations for the project
- Insist on written contracts. These contracts should include a timeline for the completion of the project, a description of the work that is to be done, the total cost of the project, a payment schedule, and any warranties or guarantees that are offered. You can get an attorney to help you review these contracts before signing
- Always collect and document a receipt for any payments that you make. It is also advisable to use digital payment methods, checks, or money orders instead of cash
- Make sure that any subcontractors involved in the project are duly paid. This is to prevent a lien from being placed against your property
- Do not make final payments or sign a certificate of completion until the project has been completed and you are satisfied with the outcome
- Report suspected disaster scams to the Consumer Protection Section of the Louisiana Attorney General’s Office by calling (800) 351-4889. Reports can also be made online or by completing and mailing a Consumer Dispute Form to:
- Office of the Attorney General
- Consumer Protection Section
- P.O. Box 94005
- Baton Rouge, LA 70804-9005
What are Common Legal
Work Scams in Louisiana?
Legal work scams in Louisiana generally refer to fraudulent activities carried out by unethical licensed attorneys or con artists pretending to be licensed attorneys. These scams aim to deceptively obtain money from Louisianans through law-related methods. Some common examples of legal work scams in Louisiana are:
- Living Trust Scams: This scam is mostly targeted at elder Louisianans and it involves con artists or unethical attorneys inviting their potential victims to seminars on living trusts or scheduling in-home appointments with them regarding this matter. During these seminars or appointments, the con artists and unethical attorneys exaggerate the benefits of a living trust and try to convince their victims to create one. In some cases, the victims pay for a do-it-yourself "living trust kit" that they never receive. The aim of this scam is usually to gain access to the financial information of unsuspecting Louisianans and fraudulently obtain money from them
- Fake representation Scams: This scam is mostly targeted at attorneys and law firms in the state and it involves con artists contacting attorneys and requesting representation, usually in a debt collection or recovery matter. The con artists send the attorneys a check for the supposed money in contention, ask the attorneys to deduct their representation fees, and then wire the balance back to them. However, these checks, along with any documents that the con artist may send regarding the alleged matter, are always fake. In some cases, these con artists use the names of real people and organizations when carrying out these scams to give them more credibility.
- Jury Duty Scams: This scam involves con artists contacting unsuspecting Louisianans via phone calls or emails and claiming that warrants have been issued for their arrest or that they owe fines because they missed jury duty. These con artists then employ scare tactics and threats to obtain personal information and money from these individuals
To avoid becoming a victim of a Louisiana legal work scam, you should always take the following steps:
- Verify the Louisiana State Bar Association membership status of any person that claims to be an attorney
- Contact an experienced estate planning attorney to make sure that creating a living trust is the right option for you
- Remember that there is no one-size-fits-all specification for living trusts
- Always consult with trusted friends and family as well as relevant professionals like attorneys and financial advisers before making serious financial decisions
- Resist high-pressure sales tactics
- Always trust your gut. If something seems suspicious, do more research and due diligence
- Never divulge sensitive personal or financial information over the phone or via email to unknown individuals that claim to be court officials
- Always hang up as soon an unknown caller starts making threats
- Be wary of individuals that make immediate requests for fund transfers, especially if you have never personally met these individuals
- Contact your local Clerk of Court’s office if you suspect that you may have missed a jury duty summons
- Always remember that courts do not serve arrest warrants via phone, email, or fax. These warrants are always served in person by authorized law enforcement officials
- Report any contact with suspected legal work scammers to the Louisiana Attorney General’s office online or by calling (800) 351-4889. You can also file a complaint concerning unethical behavior by an attorney to the Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Board
How Long Does it Take to Get a Contractor License in
It takes the Louisiana State Licensing Board for Contractors an average of four to eight weeks to issue contractor licenses. The specific length of time it takes to process a contractor license application depends on factors like the proper submission of required documents, the payment of applicable fees, and passing the required exams. Note that out-of-state applicants typically have a sixty-day waiting period that begins from the date their license application is received by the state's licensing board.
How to Maintain Your License in Louisiana
All contractors that have been issued with licenses are required to maintain a current address and qualifying party with the Louisiana State Licensing Board. Contractors that obtain a residential license, a mold remediation license, or home improvement registration are also required to maintain continuous insurance coverage. In addition, residential building contractors in Louisiana are required to complete a minimum of six hours of continuing education administered by board-approved providers every year. However, this requirement is waived for residential building contractors that also have a current commercial license in classifications like building construction, highway, street, and bridge construction, heavy construction, and municipal and public works construction.
Licensed contractors can update their contact details online via the state licensing board’s interactive web portal. However, to perform actions like adding a qualifying party or a classification to an existing license and reporting a change in qualifying party or a name/structure change, the contractor must complete and submit the appropriate forms along with any applicable fees to:
- 600 North Street
- Baton Rouge, LA 70802
- Phone: (225) 765-230
- Phone: (800) 256-1392
Similarly, licensed attorneys in Louisiana are expected to complete a minimum of 12.5 hours of approved mandatory continuing legal education annually. Newly licensed attorneys are required to spend no less than eight of these hours on topics that concern legal ethics, professionalism, or law office management, while older attorneys must spend one hour on legal ethics and one hour on professionalism. Also, attorneys are required to report any changes to information submitted in their annual registration statements. Contact information updates can be done online, while name changes can only be made by contacting the Finance and Membership Department of the Louisiana State Bar Association.
How to Renew a Contractor License in
Newly issued contractor licenses and registrations are valid for one year in Louisiana. After this time, home improvement registrations have to be renewed every year, while commercial, residential, and mold remediation licenses can be renewed for either one, two, or three-year periods. The Louisiana State Licensing Board for Contractors typically sends contractors a renewal notice approximately 60 days to the expiration date of the licenses or registrations. Further notices are sent 15 days before the expiration date and when the license expires. License renewals can be done online through the licensing board’s interactive web portal. However, contractors with residential, mold remediation, and home improvement licenses and registrations are required to send proof of their general liability and workers’ compensation in the form of insurance certificates directly to the licensing board via email. Failure to do this can result in a delay in the license renewal process.
On the other hand, Louisiana attorneys renew their licenses annually by filing an attorney registration statement, filing a trust account disclosure and overdraft notification authorization, reporting pro bono hours, and paying any applicable fees. This renewal process is typically done online via the attorney’s LSBA Online Member Account. Note that bar association membership dues and disciplinary board assessment fees are due and payable on July 1st every year. Newly licensed attorneys that were admitted to the Louisiana State Bar Association between January 1st and June 30th are usually not required to pay any fees for the year of their admission.