News | Communication Services, 360-902-5400 - PublicAffairs@Lni.wa.gov

Crackdown on illegal contractors in Washington finds nearly 50 violators

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June 28, 2018 #18-018

Effort part of nationwide construction enforcement campaign

Tumwater – Surprise sweeps for unregistered contractors in Washington this month resulted in nearly 50 citations in three days.

Inspectors with the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) discovered the violations during unannounced visits to 636 construction sites throughout the state from June 12 to 14.

L&I inspectors conducted the contractor compliance sweeps as part of a national effort to highlight the issue of illegal contracting in construction and to track down violators. The coordinated effort just wrapped up, and also involved construction compliance crackdowns in Arizona, California, Florida, Mississippi, Nevada, Oregon, Rhode Island, Texas and Utah.

Hiring unregistered contractors endangers your dollars

"As we head into the height of the summer construction season, L&I is urging consumers to hire registered contractors," said Dean Simpson, the department's contractor compliance chief.

"While most contractors are following the rules, our recent sweeps show that there are some out there who are breaking the law. Hiring unregistered contractors puts your project dreams and your dollars at risk."

State law requires construction contractors to register with L&I. The department confirms they have a business license, insurance and bond — requirements that provide some financial protection in case a project goes wrong. 

Consumers can check whether contractors are registered at ProtectMyHome.net

What's a surprise sweep?

L&I contractor compliance inspectors typically work solo, paying unannounced visits to construction sites year-round to check that contractors are registered and tradespeople are licensed. During surprise sweeps, multiple inspectors swoop into selected communities to do the checks.

For the national enforcement campaign, L&I inspectors held surprise sweeps in Mercer Island and Bellevue in King County; Spokane, Spokane Valley, Cheney, and Medical Lake areas in Eastern Washington; and in Clark, Kitsap and Pierce counties.

The National Association of State Contractors Licensing Agencies, made up of state agencies that regulate construction contractors, coordinated the national campaign in June. (Read more about the national campaign here.)

Inspectors check more than 1,500 contractors, tradespeople

In Washington alone, 22 inspectors checked 636 active construction sites and 1,522 contractors, plumbers and electricians. They issued 48 citations to unregistered contractors and unlicensed electricians and plumbers.

Inspectors also checked whether contractors were following other L&I requirements. The sweeps resulted in 53 contractors being referred to the workers' compensation audit program, 63 to collections, and 1 to the L&I Division of Occupational Safety & Health.

L&I encourages all consumers with home projects to Hire Smart! The agency recommends that homeowners:

  • Hire registered contractors.
  • Get three written bids.
  • Never pay in full until you're satisfied.
  • Check for contractor registration and get more tips at ProtectMyHome.net or call 1-800-647-0982.

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For media information: Debby Abe, L&I Public Affairs, debby.abe@Lni.wa.gov, (360) 902-6043.

Connect with L&I: Facebook (facebook.com/laborandindustries) and Twitter (twitter.com/lniwa)

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