Builder license rule is in effect

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Before asking how much the new porch will cost, ask to see the license to build it.

For a month, all general contractors in Georgia have been under a new law that requires them to have state licenses to build a house or change the structure of one.

"If you don't have a license, you don't pull a permit, you don't start a house," said Ernie Blackburn, the president of the Builders Association of Metro Augusta.

The 22-year Columbia County home builder was one of the 19,300 Georgia contractors who got his license before the July 1 deadline. Because of his years of experience, he was also one of the 11,500 contractors who didn't have to take the exam.

While certain trades have had to carry a license -- plumbers and electricians, for example -- the general contractors overseeing them did not, Mr. Blackburn said. The state instituted a license requirement for builders and contractors to raise the bar on construction practices.

"It is not just a good thing for the consumer, the home buyer, but for our industry, particularly for reputable builders who want to raise the standards," Mr. Blackburn said. "If there are some bad apples, this system is going to have a way of weeding them out."

Mr. Blackburn said the local builders association has been advocating licensure for a decade.

South Carolina, Tennessee and Florida already have similar requirements.

The licensing comes with some nuances: Not everyone who works on a building needs one.

Mark Birch, the owner of Window World, doesn't need a license to install replacement windows. Any project that involves changing the structure of the house, however, would require that license -- and he asks to see it when he's hiring a subcontractor.

Roofers and painters also would not have to get a license because they aren't changing the structural integrity of the home.

Though local builders haven't needed a state license, each county has a department that issues building permits and inspects projects during construction.

Robert Sherman, the director of Richmond County's license and inspection department, said a certificate of occupancy isn't issued until a new building passes its inspections.

Mr. Sherman said members of his staff performed 10,000 inspections -- and only 991 re-inspections -- from Jan. 1 to July 30.

Columbia County has required a local license for the past three years. The county is trying to determine whether it is needed now, Mr. Blackburn said.

Reach Tim Rausch at (706) 823-3352 or timothy.rausch@augustachronicle.com.

LICENSE CHECK


Consumers can check the status of any professional licensed by the Georgia Secretary of State's Office, including any disciplinary action, at: secure.sos.state.ga.us/myverification.


AVOID BAD APPLES


Be wary if a contractor:


- Doesn't have a state license


- Solicits door-to-door


- Offers you discounts for finding other customers


- Has materials "left over" from a previous job


- Tells you your job will be a "demonstration"


- Offers exceptionally long guarantees


- Pressures you for an immediate decision


- Does not list a business number in the telephone directory


- Accepts only cash payments


- Asks you to pay for most, or all, of the job up front


- Suggests that you borrow money from a lender the contractor knows

Comments (11) Add comment
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Reality
3
Points
Reality 08/05/08 - 06:06 am
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When you hire someone to work

When you hire someone to work in/on your biggest investment (home), I would think people check up on the contractors or service provider.

lezniack01
0
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lezniack01 08/05/08 - 07:48 am
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Do we need a new license for

Do we need a new license for building decks or will we continue to work under our old general contractors license? I knew nothing about this . My insurance company usually keeps me up to date. Time for a new insurance company.

mgroothand
5
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mgroothand 08/05/08 - 08:00 am
0
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This law may put the Irish

This law may put the Irish travellers (gypsies) out of business.

pofwe
5
Points
pofwe 08/05/08 - 08:27 am
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This law, like other laws, is

This law, like other laws, is for law-abiding citizens. It will have no effect on those that don't obey the law. Travellers rule.

WW1949
19
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WW1949 08/05/08 - 10:00 am
0
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Travelers do not build

Travelers do not build anything. They paint and lay asphalt. That does not require a license. Lezniak01, Richmond County had a seminar at Julian Smith Casino and sent out notices to everyone who had a RC license.

WW1949
19
Points
WW1949 08/05/08 - 10:01 am
0
0
Your insurance company has no

Your insurance company has no part in this. They only insure you but do not license you.

lezniack01
0
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lezniack01 08/05/08 - 10:25 am
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I know, but they have always

I know, but they have always kept us up to date on license changes. Thanks for the info.

soccerfan
18
Points
soccerfan 08/05/08 - 11:28 am
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This law now stops anyone

This law now stops anyone from building their own home. You now have to involve a builder and hire them and can no longer sub your own work out. There are many people knowlegable about construction that can build their own home by subconctracting all the work out to the best bids. All this did was put $ in the pocket of those builders so you have to pay them to oversee your construction.

Wolley
0
Points
Wolley 08/05/08 - 11:57 am
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Just because a builder has a

Just because a builder has a license doesnt mean that he will do the job right and not cut corners. Many experienced builders know how to cut corners without the homeowners knowledge. It's a good idea to have an independent inspection of each phase of the work, especially on a big project.

No_Longer_Amazed
5143
Points
No_Longer_Amazed 08/05/08 - 02:01 pm
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Wolley: I believe that is why

Wolley: I believe that is why "Mr. Sherman said members of his staff performed 10,000 inspections" - they are the ones who are supposed to go out and make sure the work is done 'according to code'

disssman
6
Points
disssman 08/05/08 - 03:47 pm
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I wonder why they didn't make

I wonder why they didn't make all 19,300 take an exam? Obviously years of experience means something but not everything. I am betting the license cost about a hundred dollars and the state needed some money quick so 19,300 times 100 equals almost a quick 2 mil and the citizens are eating it up because they think the state is doing something. I also wonder what kind of test it is, does it have questions like what is a 2X4 ? I just don't really see a benefit for the populace outside of paying more for the installation of a door!!!

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