Based on recent changes in Washington law, you might be if you own real estate and either work on it yourself or hire others to work on it.
Without great fanfare, the Washington legislature recently made subtle, yet significant, changes to Washington’s Contractor Registration laws (RCW 18.27 et seq.). Generally, the Contractor Registration laws deal with the regulation, registration, and licensing of contractors. Historically, a contractor’s failure to comply with the registration requirements could lead to civil fines and criminal prosecution. The legislature, acting under pressure to better protect consumers, expanded the definition of contractor; stiffened the consequences for violations and strengthened the Department of Labor and Industries’ enforcement powers against unlicensed contractors.
The biggest change occurred in defining who is required to be licensed. RCW 18.27.010(1) now defines a contractor as:
. . . any person, firm, corporation, or other entity who or which, in the pursuit of an independent business undertakes to, or offers to undertake, or submits a bid to, construct, alter, repair, add to, subtract from, improve, develop, move, wreck, or demolish any building, highway, road, railroad, excavation or other structure, project, development, or improvement attached to real estate or to do any part thereof including the installation of carpeting or other floor covering, the erection of scaffolding or other structures or works in connection therewith, the installation or repair of roofing or siding, performing tree removal services, or cabinet or similar installation; or, who, to do similar work upon his or her own property, employs members of more than one trade upon a single job or project or under a single building permit except as otherwise provided in this chapter. “Contractor” also includes a consultant acting as a general contractor. “Contractor” also includes any person, firm, corporation, or other entity covered by this subsection, whether or not registered as required under this chapter or who are otherwise required to be registered or licensed by law, who offer to sell their property without occupying or using the structures, projects, developments, or improvements for more than one year from the date the structure, project, development, or improvement was substantially completed or abandoned. (emphasis added)
These changes now make it clear that businesses engaged in real estate development activities, even on their own property, must now register. For example, under the old law, a developer who subdivided their own property and made required plat improvements would have previously fallen outside this definition. Now, that same developer fits squarely within this definition, especially if the developer does not “occupy or use