Contracting Without a License
Arizona law requires certain professionals to be licensed in their field of work. Licensing allows these groups of people to be uniformly regulated and maintain safe standards of quality. For contractors, licensing aims to prevent the damage or injuries that can result from improperly constructed structures or their components.
Who is a Contractor?
The state of Arizona defines a contractor, synonymous with the word “builder,” as any person, firm, partnership, corporation, association, or other organization, or a combination of any of them, that, for compensation, undertakes to or offers to undertake to, purports to have the capacity to undertake to, submits a bid or responds to a request for qualification or a request for proposals for construction services to, does himself or by or through others, or directly or indirectly supervises others to:
- Construct, alter, repair, add to, subtract from, improve, move, wreck, or demolish any building, highway, road, railroad, excavation or other structure, project, development, or improvement, or to do any part thereof, including the erection of scaffolding or any other structure or work in connection with the construction.
- Connect such a structure or improvements to utility service lines and metering devices and the sewer line.
- Provide mechanical or structural service for any such structure or improvements.
This definition includes subcontractors, specialty contractors, floor covering contractors, hardscape contractors and consultants who represent that they are able to supervise or manage a construction project for the property owner’s benefit, including hiring and firing specialty contractors, scheduling work on the project and selecting and purchasing construction material.
The Prohibition of Contracting Without a License
In A.R.S. 32-1151, it is made unlawful for any person, firm, partnership, corporation, association or other organization, or a combination of any of them, to engage in the business of, submit a bid or respond to a request for qualification or a request for proposals for construction services as, act or offer to act in the capacity of or purport to have the capacity of a contractor without having a contractor’s license in good standing in the name of the person, firm, partnership, corporation, association or other organization as provided in this chapter, unless the person, firm, partnership, corporation, association or other organization is exempt as provided in this chapter. Evidence of securing a permit from a governmental agency or the employment of a person on a construction project shall be accepted in any court as prima facie evidence of the existence of a contract.
Exceptions to Needing a Contracting License
Arizona provides for certain individuals to work without a license in A.R.S. 32-1121. Those who are exempt include:
- Those installing or attaching finished products or materials to a structure that does not exceed $1000, including labor, or projects that involve the use of common household plugs with low-voltage if the aggregate contract price is less than $1000. This is sometimes known as the “Handyman Exemption.”
- Property owners improving their own property intended for occupancy solely by the owner.
- Gardeners and those maintaining landscaping.
- Television and telecommunications providers if the installation is limited to low-level voltage and does not include significant forms of digging or boring.
It is important to note that the Handyman Exemption does not apply in any case in which the performance of the work requires a local building permit. If a local building permit is required, anyone doing work for any amount must be licensed.
The Arizona Building Officials (AZBO) provides information regarding when and how to obtain building permits.
Penalties for Contracting Without a License
According to A.R.S. 32-1164, acting in the capacity of a contractor without a license is a class 1 misdemeanor. Class 1 misdemeanors can result in incarceration of up to six months. Arizona state law also provides the following penalties for these offenders:
- A first-time offender will be fined at least $1000. Any following violation will result in a fine of at least $2000.
- If an offender is sentenced to probation, the court will order:
- That the offender pay in full all transaction privilege tax or use tax amounts that arose from the acts or omissions constituting the offense.
- That the offender pay in full all transaction privilege or use tax amounts that are owed to the local municipal government, city or town in which the offense occurred and that arise from the acts or omissions constituting the offense.
This includes paying restitution to the victim of the crime, an amount which will be unique to each specific case.
Contractor Licensing Information
The Arizona Registrar of Contractors (ROC) provides licenses to contractors in the state of Arizona. The ROC also takes reports of license violations or harm reported, for which they may open an investigation. Their website provides lists of currently licensed contractors as well as offenders.
Contracting without a license can result in additional related charges, such as fraud, or even negligent homicide if death occurred as a result of the faulty contracting. An experienced defense attorney will be able through the charges to find a defendant’s best defenses.
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