Montana Contractor License Search
What You Should Know about Hiring a Contractor in Montana
In Montana, almost all contractors must carry a state-issued license or register with the Department of Labor and Industry. Over 5,000 contractors are registered with the and available at a moment's notice to help on various projects. Hiring a licensed contractor comes with the peace of mind that your work will be completed satisfactorily in line with relevant local codes and industry standards. Also, these licensed contractors are mandated to carry bond and insurance plans that limit your financial liability to your budget for the project in case of uncompleted work, damages, or work-related injuries. Be sure to verify the license of anyone claiming to be a contractor before hiring to prevent falling victim to:
- Fraudulent contractors that may abscond with your money and leave the work uncompleted
- Contractors with an unchecked background that may jeopardize the safety of your family
Besides verifying the license of your contractor, it is wise to also consider the following issues before hiring any professional in Montana:
- Who Is a Contractor in Montana?
- How to Search for a Contractor's License in Montana
- Penalty for Hiring a Contractor Without a License in Montana.
- How Much Does a Contractor Charge in Montana?
- Tips for Hiring a Contractor in Montana
- Is Your Contractor Insured and Bonded as Required by Montana Statutes?
- Top Contractor Scams in Montana
- How to Report Fraudulent Montana Contractors
Who Is a Contractor in Montana?
Contractors are businesses or individuals that offer services based on a written or oral agreement. The Montana Department of Labor and Industry handles licensing for contractors involved with construction in Montana. For specialty contractors like electricians and plumbers, the Professional Boards and Licensing. Contractors in Montana often come into one of two groups:
- General Contractors: These contractors organize and supervise construction and home or property renovation projects. These contractors serve as the primary point of contact for the project owner and coordinate the efforts of specialty contractors working on these projects. For general contractors working on building projects in Montana, applications from both construction and independent contractors are permitted.
- Specialty Contractors: These professionals are skilled in various specialized tasks, including painting, masonry work, roofing, HVAC (heating, cooling, ventilation, and air conditioning), plumbing, and electrical work. Typically, a general contractor will choose specialist contractors to complete a particular task or offer a specific service associated with the construction project. However, you can collaborate directly with an experienced contractor on projects that involve just one project. In Montana, specific boards have jurisdiction over regulating plumbers and electricians.
How to Search for a Contractor's License in Montana
You can check a potential Montana contractor's profile to see if they presently hold a license by using the Uhire professional licensing search tool, which offers a thorough search option for all different types of contractors. You can also search for state-licensed contractors on the Montana Professional Boards and Licensing portal.
Penalty for Hiring a Contractor Without a License in Montana.
The criminal punishment for violating Montana's license regulations can be severe; an offender faces fines of up to $500 for each offense. Although it is not against the law to hire an unlicensed contractor, doing so has some disadvantages, including:
- Contractors cannot get the necessary approval from the relevant building authority without a license. Without the proper approval, renovations might be completed with financial consequences and a decrease in the value of your home.
- These contractors most likely don't have insurance or bonds. This implies that you are accountable for any accidents or property damage throughout the project.
- It increases the possibility of getting subpar work.
How Much Does a Contractor Charge in Montana?
The cost of the projects for which specialty contractors are employed is frequently influenced by their complexity and human resources requirements. Specialty contractors typically charge between $200 and $300 per hour.
The following table shows the most well-known specialists in Montana along with their typical hourly fees; however, actual costs may vary based on your region and the reputation of the specialist in your area:
It is common to need more than one specialist contractor for a residential or business project. Engaging a general contractor to oversee the entire project makes sense to save time, money, and the burden of coordinating several subcontractors. It's essential to keep in mind that the total project cost frequently determines the general contractor's fees. However, this amount, which accounts for 10% to 20% of total project costs, is typically determined using one of the techniques listed below:
- Fixed Price Method: here, the contractor consents to complete the work in exchange for a specific sum. This method works well for tasks with a defined scope and end date.
- Cost Plus Fee Method: in this instance, the contractor adds a markup to all services provided and the actual work completed on the project. When working on large projects with murky deadlines, this approach is ideal. To avoid prices sharply increasing, it is wise to insist on a fixed maximum price.
In Montana, you should allocate between $131.44 and $199.64 per square foot for construction and home improvement projects. The following elements may have an impact on final costs:
- Labor, approval, and other additional costs
- The price of hiring contractors to perform necessary services
- Conditions at the project site where you are staying
- The cost and availability of the required supplies
- The project's nature and scope
- Position and credentials of employed contractors
Tips for Hiring a Contractor in Montana
The contractors you select must be qualified for the task given the amount of money that is usually involved in the design, remodeling, installation, maintenance, and repair of a home and its fixtures. The initial steps are to understand the project scope and identify the kinds of contractors required. As a result, consider the following before hiring any contractors in Montana:
- Whatever the case may be, save those where there are no state licenses, a state-licensed contractor must be used. You can check the status of your contractor's license online.
- Never pay in full in advance for a project. Never pay more than $1,000 (or 10% of the total project cost) in advance for home remodeling jobs.
- Before making the final payment, be sure the work is completed satisfactorily.
- Obtain and compare up to three contractor bids for your projects.
- Request and check the references of each bidder.
- Before any work starts, insist on a formal contract stating all project needs and duties. Before agreeing, make sure you have read and comprehended the contract.
- Do not use cash as payment.
- Keep copies of any documents of the project, including contracts, warranties, and invoices.
- Check the contractor's (and any appropriate subcontractors') insurance and bonding.
Is Your Contractor Insured and Bonded as Required by Montana Statutes?
Although general liability insurance is not necessary for contractors in Montana, it is still a good idea to ensure the contractor you hire has good liability coverage. This will ensure that you don't get the short end of the stick if an accident or damage occurs while working on your project and will assist in lowering the risks associated with hiring workers. However, keep in mind that all contractors in Montana are required to provide workers' compensation.
To protect yourself financially and legally in unanticipated events like bodily harm, unexpected property damage, and contractor errors that may arise during your project, you should find out if your potential contractors are adequately insured and bonded. Never overlook the various safeguards that bonds and insurance provide. Insurance protects both the project owner and the contractor from paying accident and injury-related out-of-pocket costs. Contrarily, the main goal of bonds is to shield project owners from responsibility for any damage brought on by the contractor's failure to complete the work as promised.
Always request proof of a contractor's bonding and insurance coverage before hiring them. Make sure that their general liability insurance covers the scope of your project. You may confirm by seeking a copy of the company's insurance (and bond) certificate and contacting the issuer. Call the Montana Commissioner of Securities and Insurance at (406) 444-2040 or (800) 332-6148 for further details about insurance for contractors.
Top Contractor Scams in Montana
In Montana, scams involving contractors are not unheard of. About 0.7 out of every 10,000 homeowners are duped by these schemes yearly. Taking safeguards is essential to avoid falling victim to such contractor fraud. Awareness of how these dishonest contractors operate is one of the best strategies to avoid them.
Shady contractors routinely use the following methods to scam Montana homeowners:
- A door-to-door marketing campaign offering discounts for the extra effort.
- Offering free home inspections and "discovering" issues that must be resolved immediately.
- Lowering the significance of formal contracts.
- Contract delivery with unclear text or blanks. The project's specifications and expenses are expanding.
- Forcing homes to sign up for services or spend excessive amounts on them without conducting their research requires total or considerable advance payments when money is short.
To prevent these scams, take the following steps before hiring contractors:
- Conduct thorough background checks on all prospective contractors. Get references, get accurate contracts, review them well before you sign them, and inquire about their legal insurance and bonding status. You might also look up their reputation online.
- Use only licensed contractors.
- Do not hire unsolicited contractors or accept remodeling quotes from them.
- Avoid paying with cash.
- Don't spend over $1,000 (or 10% of the overall project cost) as a down payment.
- Never put your signature on anything you don't fully comprehend.
- Request and compare price quotations from several contractors for your project.
- You should ask your main contractor and any associated subcontractors to release any liens they may have.
How to Report Fraudulent Montana Contractors
Depending on the circumstances, several organizations exist in Montana through which you can report contractor fraud and pursue legal action against dishonest contractors.
Montana Department of Labor and Industry
You can file a complaint with the Department of Labor and Industry (DLI) if you work with contractors who are not licensed, use deceptive advertising, do not have appropriate workers' compensation insurance, or underpay their staff. Also, remember that this agency can receive complaints against authorized contractors.
Montana Office of Consumer Protection
Any instances of unfinished work, high charges, or dishonest business practices resulting in a financial loss or theft can be reported to the Montana Office of Consumer Protection. You can also consider contacting the district attorney's office in your community.
Small Claims Court
You can decide to bring a small claims case against a contractor if they have broken the terms of the written contract. Notably, a lawsuit in a small claims court lawsuit can only be worth $7,000 in total. It is essential to inform the local district attorney's office before taking this action. Please be aware that the filing fee is $30.
Better Business Bureau (BBB)
You can file a complaint about a dishonest contractor with your local Better Business Bureau office. The BBB encourages locals to report fraud, voice complaints about service providers, share their experiences working with businesses, and warn others against deceptive advertising.
The Police Department
If the contractor has physically threatened you or stolen from you, it is highly advised that you first call the nearest police station.