Choosing a licensed contractor does not always protect you


ATLANTA - The law designed to protect Georgia homeowners from bad contractors is so poorly enforced, even the enforcers have complained.

Gov. Sonny Perdue signed builder licensing into law in 2004. It went into full effect in 2008.

Click here to see if your contractor is licensed

Consumer investigator Jim Strickland looked through five years of records and found more than 1,000 Georgians complained about builders to the Licensing Board.  Deneise Graver was one of them.

"The state did not protect me at all," complained Graver.

Today on Channel 2 Action News at 5, Jim Strickland talks to a licensing board member about the frustrations of the system and how so many complaints can be filed without any action being taken.

Graver complained to state regulators that after a tree crashed through her home, the licensed contractor she hired for the repair botched the windows and reinstalled damaged siding, rather than using new siding approved and paid for by the insurance company.

When Strickland went to her home, Graver's floor was covered in pans to catch drops from the leaky roof.

Graver complained to the Licensing Board, but the board closed her case without taking any action.

That's common at the Residential Contracting Board. Of 1,048 complaints over five years, only four cases ended with a builder having his license revoked.  And of those cases, none of the revocations were because of shoddy work.

"That's just amazing to me, and disappointing," said Phae Howard, the founder of the National Center for the Prevention of Home Improvement Fraud. "More needs to be done."

Frustrated longtime board member Bob Barnard complained that contractor licensing has to share staff with 37 other boards. 

That means a hair salon, a funeral home and a contractor can each get the same investigator.

“There's no way they can be professional at it," admitted Barnard.

Cases involving unlicensed work, not shoddy work, are classified as priority. But as for the rest, "I would venture to say we probably have some cases that are four or five years old," said Barnard.

Strickland brought the DeKalb County Chief Inspector to Graver's house.  He called the work a “hodge podge.”

He also said it was against the rules.

"A permit was definitely needed, there wasn't any permit obtained," said inspector Bill King  

If the state receives a statement saying no license was pulled to do the structural work, Barnard vowed to reopen the case against Graver's licensed builder.

Channel 2 Action News

Delivered To Your Inbox