Hiring someone to work on your home should be a simple job, but it's not.
Some do shoddy work, show up late or at times, not at all.
That's why it's so important to make sure contractors are licensed, bonded and insured with the Oregon Construction Contractors Board. But hiring legal contractors usually leads to an initial bid for the job that costs more.
But Oregon Construction Contractors Board Investigator Larry Moore said, "Nine times out of ten, the consumers going to end up paying more money hiring contractors who are not licensed."
That's because if anything goes wrong, isn't built right or doesn't meet building codes there's nowhere for the homeowner to turn to force the contractor to fix the problem.
More and more homeowners are turning to Craigslist to find someone to do everything from handy-work to major remodeling jobs.
C.C.B. Investigator Eric McLauchlin said, "Unfortunately the people reach out to Craigslist, they find them, and they get taken."
Investigators say all advertisements by contractors have to have their CCB license number.
If they don't, investigators say it's a big red flag they're not licensed. All bids also have to have the contractor’s license number posted on the top of the first page. Confusion over who needs to have a license seems to be common tactic unlicensed contractors use to get jobs from homeowners.
Inspector Moore said, "Basically, anyone who does any work on your home for compensation has to be licensed."
To prove his point, several times a year the Contractors Board sets up a sting operation to catch contractors operating without a license.
At a home in Lake Oswego, CCB investigators made phone calls to contractors advertising on Craigslist to come and give bids for work that needed done on the home.
While inspectors scheduled times for contractors to come and give bids, KGW Unit 8's Investigation team waited upstairs.
Once the contractors had given investigators a bid, they gave Newschannel 8's Ed Teachout and photographer Rod Stevens the signal to join in on the bust.
General Contractor Martin Turner said, “I’ve been doing this for the last 29 years and did have a license." CCB
Inspector Larry Moore said, "We're conducting a sting operation and you (Turner) have a suspended license. Turner said,"I paid $3,000 last year to be licensed. Why would I purposely do that and go out and try to not be licensed and screw somebody?"
Later Turner said, “I had some fines last year and that led to a suspension."
Investigators next call went out to Larry Berkley who advertised on Craigslist. When he arrived to fix a gutter and door investigators said, “We’re conducting a sting operation." Berkley replied,
"Oh I've been stung." Berkley said, “I didn't know to fix a leak in a gutter, to fix a door required a contractor’s license. I'm just trying to supplement my income with a little extra money."
Investigators said he definitely needs to be licensed to do this kind of work and issued Berkley a fine of several hundred dollars.
According to Investigators these fines can be brought down drastically if the contractor gets licensed and promises to obey all contracting laws.
Berkley said, "I'm going to quit doing the work, I had no idea I had to be licensed."
George Natwick, a painter, was the next to arrive at the Lake Oswego home to give a bid on painting the entryway.
Once he signed the bid, investigators showed their badges and let Natwick know he'd been busted in a sting to catch unlicensed contractors.
Natwick knew painters were supposed to be licensed and said, "I want to challenge the way the law is written I really do because I think it's geared against honest legal workers."
Natwick said, "Actually I've been waiting for them to catch one of my Craigslist ads because I do want to challenge it, and I am going to take it to trial and stand up in court on this one, I'm not going to let them just roll over me."
KGW asked Natwick if he agreed contractors needed to be licensed he agreed, but not for painters.
Natwick said, “No I think it should be to protect the public against shoddy workmanship, I agree."
KGW asked why he didn't have a license Natwick replied, “Well, some of us can't afford a license."
Investigators say to be licensed for two years only costs $350. The cost of insurance and bonding depends on the type of work and how much work a contractor does during a year.
To find out if a worker needs to be licensed by the C.C.B. or for homeowners to check out a contractor’s license and background check Oregon.gov