‘Ask for a license number’: Tips for consumers looking to hire contractors for home repairs and renovations

Whether it is home repairs or larger scale renovations, experts say hiring qualified and licensed contractors is important.
Published: Jun. 27, 2023 at 2:10 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 27, 2023 at 2:18 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Whether it is smaller home repairs or larger-scale renovations, experts say hiring qualified and licensed contractors is important.

“In Virginia, if you are having work done on your home valued at $1,000 or more, it is the law that the contractor be licensed,” explained Kerri O’Brien with the Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation (DPOR).

DPOR advises that consumers verify that a contractor has a license through its license lookup.

“You can also check on that site with just a name or name of a business, if you don’t have that license number. What is also great about our license look up, it will show you if there has been any past disciplinary action. You can make a real educated decision about who you are hiring to do work on your home,” she explained. “Ask your contractor for their license number. If they don’t give you their license number, that is a sign.”

In Virginia, there are three types of license a contactor can obtain, Class A, B and C:

If you are about to engage the services of a contractor in the Commonwealth of Virginia, you should be aware of the state’s program for the regulation of this occupation by licensing or certifying these businesses.

Any contractor who undertakes a project the total value of which is $120,000 or more is required to have a valid Class A license issued by the Board for Contractors.

Any contractor who undertakes a project the total value of which is over $10,000 but less than $120,000 must have a valid Class B license. A licensed contractor has met standards established by the Board for Contractors to ensure that the licensee possesses the character, knowledge, and skills necessary to practice without harm to the public.

Any contractor who undertakes a project the total value of which is more than $1,000 but no more than $10,000 is required to have a valid Class C license. Class C licensure requires that the contractor submit information to the Board for Contractors concerning the location, nature, and operation of the business, as well as evidence of experience and information on the applicant’s credit history.

“If you use an unlicensed contractor for the work, often homeowners have little or no recourse. Our regulatory boards have jurisdiction over licensed activity,” said O’Brien.

While O’Brien says DPOR first suggests trying to work things out with a contractor of business if there is an issue, she says if things escalate, a consumer can file a complaint through the agency.

“Our boards will see if there is regulatory violation. We also might suggest that you seek a lawyer, sometimes things will have to play out in court,” she said.

In cases where a situation ends up in court and a consumer is awarded a judgment, there are options if the consumer struggles to collect money owed to them from a contractor.

Who Is Eligible To File A Claim?

A person who has been awarded a judgment in a court of competent jurisdiction in the Commonwealth of Virginia against a licensed contractor and was subject to monetary loss may be eligible to file a claim. In addition, a property owners’ association as defined in § 55.1-1800 may qualify, if it contracted with a licensee for improvements to the common areas owned by the association.

A claimant who has obtained a judgment against a bonded contractor must seek recovery through the bond. If you are uncertain whether a contractor is bonded, please contact either the Board or Recovery Fund staff.

The court judgment must be obtained against an entity licensed by the Board for Contractors and must be based upon the improper or dishonest conduct of the contractor. Any language in the judgment supporting the conclusion that the court found the conduct of the licensed contractor involved improper or dishonest conduct may be used by the Board to determine eligibility for recovery from the Fund.


State law limits a single Recovery Fund claim to $20,000. Multiple claims involving the same contractor are limited to $40,000 per biennium.

If multiple claims involving one contractor exceed $40,000, the claim amounts must be prorated.

The Recovery Fund does not pay interest, punitive damages, exemplary damages, or any amounts that do not constitute an actual monetary loss to the claimant. However, the award may include attorneys’ fees and court costs.

Source of Funding

The Contractor Transaction Recovery Fund is not funded by any tax revenues. All administrative costs and claims are funded with assessments paid by contractors.