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The Prescott Daily Courier | Prescott, Arizona

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4/6/2013 10:00:00 PM
County to check contractors' licenses as part of permit process
Scott Orr
The Daily Courier

In a joint study session with the Yavapai County Board of Supervisors and Planning & Zoning Commission Wednesday, the members agreed that Development Services should check building contractors' licenses as part of the permitting process, and asked the staff to return to a five-day-a-week schedule.

"There is a perception from the public that the issuance of a permit is an endorsement that the work complies with contractor law" and that it implies the contractor's license is in good standing is not true, Development Services Director Steve Mauk said. "We don't have anything in our codes that requires that to happen," he added.

He said the department has, in the past, unknowingly issued permits to people with suspended or revoked licenses.

The Yavapai County Contractors' Association has pushed for the department to check licenses, Mauk said.

Customers have, too. "They've said, 'You issued a permit to my contractor, only to find out my contractor's (license) was under suspension...Why did you do that?'"

The answer, Mauk said, is, "We don't trust the data on the website of the state (Registrar of Contractors)" to be up-to-date.

"As a former contractor," Supervisor Tom Thurman said, "I'm going to tell you that most of the folks that hire contractors, hopefully, do their background checks. But it's the small percentage (of contractors) out there who are there to rip people off.

"If we start checking every contractor's license number," Thurman said, "all of a sudden, we've become the policemen for the Registrar of Contractors (ROC), and then if that contractor defaults or lies or whatever, do we become part of that lawsuit?"

But Commissioner Tom Reilly said, "We've ratcheted up the regulations on building in Yavapai County - throughout the United States - to such a level that to not go through such a simple step, well, I just think it's crazy that we don't."

He also disagreed with Mauk's contention that the ROC website was not accurate.

Reilly called the issue of unlicensed contractors in the county a "huge" problem and said, "The problem is, the consumer ends up getting screwed."

Supervisor Craig Brown said he believed that checking licenses falls under the county's "responsibility for the protection of its citizens."

Mauk said his staff could write an appropriate county ordinance amendment and that it would take a minimum of 90 days to pass it.

He also told the members that there has been demand that the Development Services office reopen on Fridays. The department shortened its hours in 2010, moving to a four-day/10-hour-a-day schedule for budget reasons.

The building the department occupied at that time was "very inefficient as far as utilities were concerned," Mauk said, but since then, they've moved into a new, energy-efficient building.

"Things were slower then," he said. "We have picked up significantly," and the construction industry has been asking when they will go back to working Fridays.

"Do you show there's an increase to your budget because we're open five days?" Thurman asked.

"No," Mauk replied.

"Then there's no question for me," Thurman said.

Mauk said the department would work out the schedules and that Development Services will be open five days a week the first week of June.



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Reader Comments

Posted: Monday, April 08, 2013
Article comment by: County Tradesman

Clearly, the entire building department should be scrapped. They serve only to strangle the industry and drive up costs. The whole process is ridiculous and unprofessionally administered. If the people in this department could produce a day's work in one day, like the people in the field are expected to do, it would be a different ballgame. I'm sure the cost of this department is not justified by the benefit received by the taxpayers. Let's dismantle the whole department.

Posted: Monday, April 08, 2013
Article comment by: License VS No License

We all know home owners which were taken advantage of by licensed contractors. Some of these contractors are sitting in jail right now.

I also know unlicensed builders who do a better job than licensed contractors and their home owner customers agree.

I know and have met with licensed contractors who do not understand and can not read construction plans. As a retired architect and builder, I am amazed at the lack of knowledge licensed general contractors have in Arizona. I have always wondered how someone could get a contractors license with no knowledge of architecture or proper construction techniques.

I say if you want your home built properly, then hire your architect to oversee your licensed contractor, who is probably on the golf course, while you home is being built. You could save thousands of dollars in construction costs, lawyer fees, and court costs.



Posted: Sunday, April 07, 2013
Article comment by: tired of it all

Nice to see the government actually doing SOMETHING...

Posted: Sunday, April 07, 2013
Article comment by: Tom Carson

It's not the countys job to over see contractors license . Many projects are permited by Owners, Artchitects, and others in the trades . It's the Building Departments job to enforce building codes. They keep adding layers of codes to a already over done product. The point of codes was to have a min. building standard. It's good they will make inspections on Fridays.Cut staff if you want to save money. I can think of afew that could be layed off.

Posted: Sunday, April 07, 2013
Article comment by: Steve Willoughby

Under A.R.S. 32-1169, building departments "shall require that each applicant for a building permit file a signed statement that the applicant is licensed...with the applicant's license number and applicant's privilege license number..."

Posted: Sunday, April 07, 2013
Article comment by: Yavapai Contractor

So now it will take a month and a half to pull a permit instead of the already rediculous three weeks to a month on a small project

Posted: Sunday, April 07, 2013
Article comment by: Finally Doing Their Jobs?

There's a place on the form for building permits that asks for ROC#, or to indicate that one is the owner/inhabitant of the property in question, as the ARS outlines that one must be either a licensed contractor or the owner (AND resident, a landlord is not permitted to do work requiring a permit on a rental property unless they are also a licensed contractor).

But the permit department has apparently *never* checked to verify that the information supplied to them is correct and valid? Why even have forms or issue permits if they aren't going to check, otherwise all they're doing is making you fill out a meaningless piece of paper and taking your money!


Posted: Sunday, April 07, 2013
Article comment by: Republican Double Standard

In a Republican county, very anti-union for the working man, it is interesting that the contractors union, Yavapai County Contractors' Association, has such influence. Unions are OK as long as business is involved? Just so they are not called unions? Perhaps labor unions should begin calling themselves Associations.

Posted: Sunday, April 07, 2013
Article comment by: Really Now

Thurman is correct again, no surprise there !

Posted: Sunday, April 07, 2013
Article comment by: An American

You do not need a contractors license to build a home, only to contract. Thurman is correct, why should we pay county staff to do the job of the ROC, then leave the county open to a lawsuit. If the consumer wants that information it is only a phone call away...I'm tired of every single government agency trying to meddle in every single thing, why don't you simply accomplish you job and leave the rest of us alone?

Posted: Sunday, April 07, 2013
Article comment by: Steven Major

Bad move. The county takes on a responsibility that they have no foolproof way of administering, and will eventually screw up and be sued for.
Building permits should be issued to property owners, never contractors. It should remain the responsibility of the property owner what occurs on their property. This looks like a planned move intentionally designed to issue tax dollars to attorneys and certain property owners.




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