West Virginia Contractor License Search

What You Should Know about Hiring a Contractor in West Virginia

With over 17,100 active contractors providing a wide array of professional services throughout West Virginia, hiring the right contractor for your project is vital. A licensed contractor is qualified to fulfill your project in line with relevant codes and industry standards. Licensed contractors are also mandated to carry bonds and insurance plans that cover damages and injuries that may occur when working on a project. This can save you from any unplanned financial liability.

Most trades are licensed and regulated by state agencies in West Virginia. You can contact the relevant agency to verify your contractor's license. In addition, consider the following points when hiring a contractor in West Virginia:

Who Is a Contractor in West Virginia?

Individuals or businesses that provide services are referred to as contractors, and they must first meet state regulatory requirements to operate in West Virginia legally. The Contractor Licensing Board of the West Virginia Division of Labor is responsible for licensing general contractors and other specialty contractors. However, electrical contractors in the state are regulated by the West Virginia Office of the State Fire Marshal.

West Virginia has various contractors, including electricians, plumbers, HVAC mechanics, general building contractors, painters, and carpenters. They are categorized into two categories:

  • General Contractors: These West Virginia professionals are responsible for overseeing the day-to-day operations of construction projects, irrespective of their nature (residential, commercial, or industrial). A general contractor hires and oversees the activities of various subcontractors and laborers and specializes in certain parts of the construction process, such as plumbing, electrical, and HVAC work. General contractors are also responsible for procuring various equipment and materials for a project. They ensure that the work is performed according to the standards and regulations specified by local building codes. The general contractor is also usually the primary contact person for the client, providing updates on the project's progress and answering any questions the client may have.
  • Specialty Contractors: These individuals handle construction and building projects requiring specific skills and training. These professionals include those working in plumbing, carpentry, and electrical. All of these individuals need to hold state-issued trade licenses to operate. A general contractor hires and supervises specialty contractors on construction projects to ensure their work aligns with the project's goals and schedule.

How to Search for a Contractor's License in West Virginia

The licensing and registration of general and specialty contractors in West Virginia is handled by different state agencies. If you plan on hiring a contractor in the state, you can use the Uhire Professional License Search tool to confirm that your prospective contractor has the necessary licenses to operate in the state. You can also use the West Virginia Division of Labour's Contractor License Search platform to confirm if a general contractor Is appropriately licensed. Similarly, you can use the West Virginia Fire Commission Office of the State Fire Marshal's Public Lookup platform to verify the licensing status of prospective electricians. These platforms allow you to run various searches using the contractor's license number, location, and name.

Penalty for Hiring a Contractor Without a License in West Virginia

While hiring an unlicensed contractor in West Virginia is not illegal, it can be risky to do so. If you don't check the license status of the individual you are considering working with and end up hiring an unlicensed person, you may face the following drawbacks:

  • You could receive subpar services due to their lack of experience and poor skills.
  • In most cases, unlicensed contractors do not carry bond or insurance coverage. In this situation, you are liable for any property damage, injuries, and accidents that may arise due to your work.
  • A building department may only issue permits to registered and appropriately licensed contractors. Undertaking projects without these permits may lead to administrative penalties, fines, and even property value reduction due to violations.

It is unlawful for contractors to provide services without following proper licensing requirements. Penalties for such violations vary depending on the nature of the offense and the location where they occur. For instance, completing any job that requires a Division of Labour-issued contractor license is punishable by a fine of $200 for the first violation and up to $5,000 and not more than a one-year jail term for subsequent offenses. Likewise, doing electrical work without a valid electrician contractor license is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of $100 for the first violation and $1,000 for subsequent offenses.

How Much Does a Contractor Charge in West Virginia?

Specialty contractors in West Virginia charge varying rates, ranging from around $40 to $100 an hour. It is critical to keep in mind that the actual cost can vary depending on the project's scope, complexity, and labor intensity.

The table below shows the typical hourly rates for various specialty contractors in West Virginia. Notice that the rates may vary depending on your locality and the contractor's reputation:

$40 - $100
$45 - $150
HVACR Technicians
$50 - $150
$30 - $80
$20 - $60
$50 - $90
Flooring Contractors
$45 - $80
$40 - $100
$50 - $100
$60 - $150
Interior Designers
$50 - $200
Excavation Contractors
$80 - $200
Concrete Contractors
$50 - $100
$20 - $75
Appliance Repair Technicians
$40 - $120
$45 - $95
Cleaning Services
$20 - $50
$50 - $120

In most home renovation and new construction projects, the work will involve multiple subcontractors and suppliers. You should hire a general contractor to minimize the stress of supervising the workers and materials suppliers, as they can help you oversee the entire project and ensure its timely completion. General contractors in West Virginia do not typically charge an hourly rate. Instead, they establish a fee structure between 10 and 20 percent of the project's total cost. The actual costs are calculated using two different pricing methods:

  • Lump Sum Pricing: This type of pricing method involves a general contractor presenting a fixed bid that includes the cost of the materials, labor, fees, and overhead. It's ideal for projects that have clear timelines and scopes.
  • Cost Plus Pricing: This method allows the general contractor to charge you for materials, labor, and a predetermined fee. This method is ideal for projects with unpredictable timelines and scopes. Still, you should set a maximum price limit to ensure the overall cost doesn't balloon due to project delays.

A construction project costs around $100 to $130 per square foot in West Virginia. However, the overall cost of a project will depend on various factors like the following:

  • Your location
  • Permits costs
  • The project's scope
  • Contractor fees
  • Labor and materials costs
  • Site accessibility and conditions
  • The experience and reputation of the contractors involved

Tips for Hiring a Contractor in West Virginia

It is crucial that you hire qualified contractors in West Virginia, as these individuals can satisfactorily provide you with the services you require. Think about it: a lot of money is spent on home improvement projects and construction each year, and hiring the right contractor can help you avoid financial loss and dissatisfaction. So, here are some tips to help you choose reliable and qualified contractors in West Virginia:

  • Define and understand the scope of your projects.
  • Check that the contractors have the necessary licenses and certifications to carry out your work legally.
  • Get contractor recommendations from friends, family, or neighbors.
  • Get at least three written estimates from different contractors to compare prices and ensure you understand their quotes.
  • Verify that the contractors have liability insurance and workers' compensation coverage.
  • Request references from past clients and ensure you check them.
  • Ensure that all agreements are written down in a clear and detailed contract. The contract should include a description of the work to be done, materials, payment schedule, and project timeline.
  • Avoid large upfront payments; we recommend limiting advance payments to 10 - 30 percent of the project's total cost.
  • Ensure the contractor can pull the necessary permits for the project.

Is Your Contractor Insured and Bonded as Required by West Virginia Statutes?

Contractors must carry workers' compensation insurance for their employees (if any) and wage bonds to legally provide services in West Virginia. Hence, before committing to a contractor, thoroughly check their surety bond and insurance status. This will help you avoid financial liabilities if any incident (such as property damage or injuries) happens during the project.

Bonds and insurance provide different types of financial protection. Insurance can help you avoid financial liabilities if incidents such as property damage or injury occur during the project. Bond insurance can cover losses caused by the contractor's failure to fulfill the terms of the contract.

To verify the coverage of a potential contractor, you can ask for copies of their bond and insurance documents and verify them with the issuing organizations. Ensure that the coverage specified in these documents is sufficient for the project's scope. You can find more information about workers' compensation insurance requirements for contractors operating in West Virginia by contacting the state's Virginia Insurance Commissioner's Office at (304) 414-0539.

Top Home Improvement Scams in West Virginia

While home improvement scams are not prevalent in West Virginia, nearly 1 out of every 10,000 homeowners in the state has been victims of a home improvement scam. While it's not always possible to prevent home improvement scams in West Virginia, you can still be proactive and protect yourself from con artists and fraudulent contractors by looking out for the following red flags:

  • The contractor cannot provide proof of required licensing or insurance,
  • The contractors employ high-pressure sales tactics to pressure you into making a quick decision without careful planning and consideration.
  • The contractor demands a large upfront payment.
  • The contractor submits significantly lower bids than others you have received.
  • The contractor is unable to provide a detailed written contract.
  • The contractor cannot provide references.
  • The contractor approaches you without you asking for their services.
  • The contractor refuses or is reluctant to obtain the necessary permits.

When looking for the right contractor, it is important that you choose reliable individuals. You can avoid getting lured into a home improvement scam by following these precautions:

  • Check with the West Virginia Contractor Licensing Board to confirm that the contractor is appropriately licensed.
  • Be wary of door-to-door contractors.
  • Ask for proof of insurance for both general liability and workers' compensation.
  • Get multiple detailed estimates from different contractors to compare costs for your project.
  • Ask for references from previous clients and check them.
  • Avoid cash payments and contractors who insist on cash-only payments, as this can signify a scam.
  • Insist on getting a detailed written contract that includes the scope of work, materials, timelines, payment schedule, and warranties. Notice that any contractor working on a project valued at $10,000 must provide a written contract.
  • Establish a clear payment schedule. Make the final payment until the work is completed to your satisfaction.
  • Keep a record of all documents related to the project, like contracts, invoices, receipts, and any other important papers.
  • Avoid paying the entire cost of your project upfront. Limit down payments to around 10 to 30 percent of the total cost.

How to Report Fraudulent West Virginia Contractors

Several organizations and agencies can help you deal with fraudulent contractors operating in West Virginia. These entities can offer effective solutions to address a contractor's illegal activities.

The West Virginia Attorney General's Office

You can report cases of unfair business practices, breaches of contracts, and unsatisfactory services by filing an online complaint form through the West Virginia Attorney General's Office Consumer Protection Division. Alternatively, you can download, fill out, and send a complaint form via email or mail it to:

Office of the Attorney General
Consumer Protection Division
PO Box 1789
Charleston, WV 25326-1789

The West Virginia Office of the State Fire Marshal

You can report an unlicensed electrical contractor to the state Office of the State Fire Marshal by completing a complaint form and sending it via mail to:

Office of the State Fire Marshal
1207 Quarrier Street
2nd Floor
Charleston, WV 25301

Small Claims Case

You can file a small claims lawsuit against a fraudulent contractor in a West Virginia Magistrate Court. These courts allow individuals to bring claims not exceeding $10,000 against those who commit illegal activities. Filing a claim in this court will cost you a fee to be determined at the moment of filing.

Local Police Departments

If the contractor is threatening or stealing from you, it is crucial to report the incident to your local police department immediately. They can help you investigate the issue and come up with a possible resolution.

The Better Business Bureau (BBB)

The local Better Business Bureau chapter in your area can help you seek monetary compensation from contractors who are operating illegally. It also keeps track of and reports scams in the community to protect nearby residents from getting victimized by such schemes.