Louisiana Contractor License Search

What You Should Know about Hiring a Contractor in Louisiana

Louisiana has more than 28,000 licensed contractors currently working throughout the state. However, to avoid contract scams, you cannot always hire everyone claiming to be a contractor. You should ensure they are appropriately licensed to complete your project. A licensed contractor must carry bond and insurance plans that cover possible damages, work-related injuries, and uncompleted work. Also, by opting for licensed contractors, you can ensure your project will be handled according to regulatory codes and standards.

Besides verifying the license of the contractor you intend to hire in Louisana, you should also consider the following issues when hiring:

Who Is a Contractor in Louisiana?

Contractors are individuals or companies that offer interested parties services per the terms of a written or oral agreement; in Louisiana, these services typically involve constructing, altering, repairing, or improving buildings and structures. Louisiana contractors are primarily licensed by the Louisiana State Licensing Board for Contractors (LSLBC); this board issues four basic license types based on the contractor's intended scope of activities:

  • Commercial License: This license is necessary for commercial and industrial projects worth $50,000 or higher and electrical, HVAC, and plumbing work worth $10,000 or more. Commercial support is also required for asbestos, hazardous waste, lead-based paint abatement/removal, and underground storage tank projects worth $1 or more.
  • Residential License: This license is required for residential building and home improvement projects worth more than $75,000 and residential swimming pool projects worth more than $7,500.
  • Home Improvement Registration: this registration is required for home improvement projects (excluding swimming pool projects) worth more than $7,500 but not above $75,000. Contractors with valid residential or commercial licenses are typically exempt from this registration.
  • Mold Remediation License: This is a prerequisite for remediation projects worth more than $7,500.

While the LSLBC offers several classifications under these four main license types, contractors in the state are usually categorized into two groups:

  • General Contractors: these contractors oversee construction and home improvement projects and act as the primary point of contact between the project owner and involved subcontractors, vendors, and laborers. General contractors are primarily responsible for coordinating the various activities these subcontractors, vendors, and laborers carry out. Still, they may also perform construction work that does not require specific licensing.
  • Specialty Contractors: these contractors perform specific construction and home improvement-related tasks that typically require specialized training and expertise. Common examples of specialty contractors are electricians, HVAC technicians, plumbers, masons, carpenters, floorers, and roofers. Specialty contractors are typically hired directly by home and property owners for projects that involve a single task or by general contractors to provide their services as part of an overarching project – in these scenarios, they are usually referred to as subcontractors. Although these vendors are mainly regulated at the state level, they may face additional licensing and registration requirements in some municipalities and counties. For example, electricians and HVAC contractors in New Orleans may need a locally-issued trade license to operate in the city.

How to Search for a Contractor's License in Louisiana

The Louisiana State Licensing Board for Contractors (LSLBC) licenses and regulates over 28,000 contractors across Louisiana. You can check your intended contractor's license status and verify that they are qualified to provide your required services using either the Uhire Professional License Search or the LSLBC's Online Contractor Search tools. Both tools allow you to conduct name, license number, and location-based searches for contractors in Louisiana – the LSLBC's tool also allows you to search by type of contractor.

Penalty for Hiring a Contractor Without a License in Louisiana

Although Louisiana does not have statutory penalties for hiring unlicensed contractors for your projects, there are numerous disadvantages associated with such a decision:

  • Unlicensed contractors usually lack adequate bond and insurance coverage, exposing you to financial and legal liabilities for work-related accidents
  • You increase the risk of engaging an unqualified and inept individual for the job and subsequently receiving shoddy and subpar services.
  • Unlicensed contractors cannot pull permits from local building departments and will likely undertake your project without adhering to relevant construction codes and regulations. This not only endangers your health and safety but can also lead to administrative sanctions for code violations and even affect your property's value.

It should be noted that contracting without a license in Louisiana is considered a misdemeanor offense punishable by fines of up to $500 per day of violation, three months in prison, or both in situations where the unlicensed contracting results in harm or damages worth more than $300, the violator faces an additional fine of up to $5,000 and imprisonment of up to five years.

How Much Does a Contractor Charge in Louisiana?

Specialty contractors in Louisiana typically charge clients an average of $60 - $110 per hour for their services – factors like the scope and labor intensity of the required task will influence their total fees.

The table below outlines the average hourly rates for commonly requested subcontractors in Louisiana (note that actual tariffs may vary depending on factors like your location and your preferred contractor's local reputation):

$60 - $115
$70 - $100
HVACR Technicians
$60 - $100
$55 - $100
$55 - $85
$65 - $110
Flooring Contractors
$50 - $90
$60 - $95
$70 - $105
$75 - $200
Interior Designers
$70 - $180
Excavation Contractors
$100 - $200
Concrete Contractors
$60 - $90
$50 - $80
Appliance Repair Technicians
$55 - $80
$60 - $105
Cleaning Services
$50 - $100
$55 - $150

It is common to require the expertise of multiple specialty contractors when undertaking construction or home improvement projects. You can avoid the stress of dealing with these contractors individually, in addition to materials suppliers and laborers, by hiring a general contractor to manage and oversee the entire project for a fee of 10 – 20 percent of the project's total cost. This fee is usually calculated using one of two methods:

  • Lump Sum Pricing: with this method, the general contractor agrees to complete the project for a predetermined fee (or lump sum). Lump sum pricing is preferable for projects with a clear scope and a fixed timeline.
  • Cost Plus Pricing: with this method, the general contractor charges for the actual work performed on the project plus a markup for their services. This method is commonly used for large projects that have uncertain timelines. However, if your general contractor is calculating their fees using this method, you should consider negotiating a maximum price cap – this helps prevent costs from ballooning.

Construction and home improvement projects in Louisiana often range from $95 - $155 per square foot on average; the overall expenses of the project depend on several factors, including:

  • Your location
  • The nature, scope, and complexity of the project
  • The cost of requirement permits and construction materials
  • Site conditions and accessibility
  • Involved contractors' expertise and local reputation
  • Contractor fees, labor fees, and other related expenses

Tips for Hiring a Contractor in Louisiana

Undertaking a construction or home improvement project can cost you a pretty penny; even minor home and property repairs and maintenance can cost hundreds of dollars. As such, before hiring contractors for these projects, you should take specific steps to ensure you get value for your money. The first step is clearly understanding what the project entails, the services you require, and the types of contractors that can provide these services. Once you've determined this, do the following:

  • Get estimates from up to three different contractors and compare their tariffs.
  • Make sure that your preferred contractors are appropriately licensed or registered.
  • Ask for references and check them. Consider it a red flag if a contractor cannot provide you with up to three local referrals.
  • Insist on getting a written contract before any work starts. This contract should include the contractor's name and contact details, a description of the services to be rendered, an estimated timeline for the project's completion, the total cost of the project, and a payment schedule.
  • Make sure that you review and understand the contract before signing it (this also goes for any documents you are asked to sign)
  • Limit down payments to 10 - 30 percent of the project's total cost. Never pay the full price of your project upfront.
  • Properly document all project-related paperwork.
  • Only make final payments when satisfied that the project has been adequately completed. Ensure that any liens placed on your property have been released before doing this.

Is Your Contractor Insured and Bonded as Required by Louisiana Statutes?

Verifying your prospective contractor's insurance and bond coverage before hiring is crucial, as this safeguards you financially and legally in case of unforeseen incidents during your project, like on-the-job injuries, accidental property damage, or contractor errors. While insurance and bonds are often used synonymously, they offer distinct forms of coverage. Insurance typically covers both the project owner and the contractor and ensures they don't incur out-of-pocket expenses from work-related accidents and injuries. On the other hand, bonds protect project owners and ensure they do not bear the financial cost of losses caused by the contractor's failure to fulfill their contractual obligations.

Contractors in Louisiana must comply with certain financial obligations set by the Louisiana State Licensing Board for Contractors (LSLBC) based on their license type:

  • Residential and home improvement contractors must carry general liability insurance of at least $100,000 – this minimum coverage limit is reduced to $50,000 for mold remediation contractors. Contractors in these license categories must also provide workers' compensation insurance proof.
  • Commercial, residential, and mold remediation contractors must submit a financial statement showing a minimum net worth of $10,000

Ask prospective contractors to provide proof of compliance with these financial obligations before committing to them. It is also in your best interest to ensure that the contractor carries general liability insurance coverage even if they aren't mandated to do so and that their coverage limits will be adequate for the scope of your project.

For further information regarding the Louisiana contractors' mandatory financial obligations, contact the LSLBC at (225) 765-2301 or (800) 256-1392.

Top Home Improvement Scams in Louisiana

It is estimated that nearly 1 out of every 10,000 Louisiana homeowners has fallen victim to a home improvement scam. Data published by the Louisiana State Licensing Board for Contractors (LSLBC) suggests that these scams are on the rise – complaints filed with this agency increased by more than 135 percent between 2020 and 2022 alone.

Some warning signs that you may be dealing with a fraudulent contractor include:

  • Door-to-door solicitations
  • Extremely low bids and special deals
  • High-pressure sales and scare tactics
  • Insistence on full payment or a substantial down payment
  • Hesitance to provide proof of licensing and insurance coverage
  • Reluctance to give references or written contracts
  • Lack of a local and verifiable business address

Taking the following precautions when hiring contractors for your project can save you the emotional and financial distress of falling victim to a home improvement scam:

  • Do not hire door-to-door contractors
  • Compare cost estimates from at least two or three contractors
  • Always verify your intended contractors' license. Also, confirm that they are correctly insured and bonded.
  • Do your due diligence. Request and check at least three references, look the contractor up online, and check to see if they are featured on the LSLBC's Violations list.
  • Insist on getting a well-detailed contract before any work starts
  • Do not make large down payments or pay the total cost of the project upfront
  • Avoid cash payments
  • Only make the final payment once the project is satisfactorily completed.

How to Report Fraudulent Louisiana Contractors

You can report dishonest and fraudulent Louisiana contractors (and seek redress for their actions) to several agencies. These include:

The Louisiana State Licensing Board for Contractors (LSLBC)

You can file complaints concerning dishonest contractors, subpar service delivery, and other related issues to the LSLBC online or by completing and submitting a downloadable pdf complaint form to the board via email, fax to (888) 510-0129, or mail-in to:

Louisiana State Licensing Board for Contractors
Attention: Residential Compliance
600 North Street
Baton Rouge, LA 70802

The Louisiana Department of Justice

Contractor fraud and home improvement scams can also be reported to the Louisiana Department of Justice/Attorney General's Office via an online consumer dispute form. Note that this office cannot act as your legal representative or sue the contractor on your behalf.

Civil Court

Suppose you wish to seek personal remedies from the contractor. In that case, you can file a lawsuit against them in an appropriate civil court. Depending on your location and the amount in contention, this may be a District, City, Parish, or Justice of the Peace Court. Contact your local Clerk of Court for more information on filing these lawsuits (including associated fees). You should also seek legal advice from an attorney before taking this step.

The Better Business Bureau (BBB)

Your local Better Business Bureau chapter is a valuable resource for dealing with fraudulent contractors; this organization can assist you in seeking redress from these contractors. Also, by alerting the BBB to dishonest contractors in your area, you can prevent other local homeowners from becoming victims of home improvement scams.

Local Law Enforcement Agencies

Complaints involving threats, theft, or other criminal conduct by contractors should be reported to your local law enforcement agency (in addition to the other agencies mentioned above).