Who Needs to Register as a Contractor?

There have been some questions and discussion here on Rain City Guide about the changes made on July 23, 2007 regarding who needs to register as a contractor.  This change was made as to who has to register as a contractor and:

“Requires property developers, consultants, and some property owners to register as contractors: Owners that build and develop multiple structures, e.g., “spec” houses, construction consultants and property developers who make improvements to property for sale must register as a general contractor.”

Russ Cofano posted about the changes in “Are YOU a Contractor? “on October 3rd, and Eileen Tefft posted another in “Home Owner Quicksand ” on October 10th, both sparked comments and questions.

The Department of Labor and Industries has posted a “Frequently Asked Questions about changes to the Contractor Registration Law”  (pdf, page 2) which answer a few of the questions that came up on the earlier posts. 

The most basic question that I had was do homeowners have to register as a contractor to get their home market ready? 

#1:  “I have owned my home for three years and am fixing it up to sell.  Do I have to register to be a contractor?  No, if you have owned your home for more than 12 months, you are exempt from the contractor registration requirement”

I have also found out that there may be some exemptions to the 1 year rule regarding improvement work a homeowner has done to their home.  The exemptions would be due to circumstances that cause a homeowner to have to sell in less than a year, such as a divorce, sudden job transfer or loss or other circumstances that fall outside of a homeowners control.  The Department of Labor and Industries will evaluate, and do some background research to determine the validity of the circumstances to determine if the homeowner would be exempt from having to be registered as a contractor.

Another question I had was if you recently purchased a house as a rental property and it needs work before leasing to tenants, do you have to be registered as a contractor?   

#3:  “I am purchasing a residential properly that I am going to remodel or make improvements and then rent it out.  Do I need to be a registered contractor?  No. 

When I called L & I (800-647-0982) to find out more, I spoke with Dennis Yonker, who told me that they are scheduling Public Hearings to get feedback from the public.  While the dates are not scheduled as of now, I have been told that they will be scheduled sometime in the last week of February and/or early March of 2008.  I will do a follow up post with dates for the public hearings when available. 

Dennis (or someone else from the dept.) would also be available to “large groups” to explain and answer questions regarding the changes.  Please remember that they would need at least a 2 week notice to schedule it in.  Dennis has allowed me to post his phone number, and can be reached directly at 360-902-6303.

Because the law is still so new, there is much uncertainty regarding how the law applies to homeowners.  For specific questions, Dennis can help with answers by calling the number above, or contact your attorney to determine the answers to your particular circumstances.

UPDATE: I got an email from Dennis with the dates for the Public Hearings and the message to contact him to check for any changes:

Public hearing dates for testimony on sub House Bill 1843 and changes the 18.27 RCW Contractor Registration Law are set for:
Feb 26-08 10:00 am start in the L and I Tukwila service office. ( 12806 Gateway Dr. 98168)
Feb 28-08 9:00 am start in the L and I Tumwater service office. ( 7273 Linderson Way S.W. 98501)
Mar 6-08 10:00 am start in the L and I Moses Lake service office. ( 3001 W. Broadway Av. 98837)
These dates may change, so contact me, one to two weeks prior to the first testimony/hearings  for updates