Answers to Frequently Asked Questions
What should I do if I have a problem?
If a dispute occurs while a project is under construction or after it is completed, the property owner should turn to the contractor first, applying equal doses of diplomacy and reason. On the disputes over workmanship, two reasonable parties usually can resolve their differences with an honest effort.
Occasionally, talking to the contractor does not solve the problem. Perhaps there is an honest disagreement as to whether the work or materials are substandard. Or maybe the contractor has gone out of business and abandoned the job.
The Registrar of Contractors offers several methods of resolving disputes. The methods range from having all parties meet at the work site with an impartial inspector who will recommend a solution, to a formal hearing where specific action can be ordered. The primary goal of this process is to get necessary repairs performed for the homeowner. An important secondary goal is to revoke the license of contractors who do not abide by the rules.
How to file a complaint.
When you are unable to resolve a dispute with a contractor through informal discussion, it may be necessary to file a formal complaint with the Registrar of Contractors. As a general rule, a complaint about defects in workmanship must be filed within two years of the completion of the project or occupancy of the structure.
Complaint forms are available at any of our offices, by telephone request to the Information Center, in person or through the Voice Response System, or can be downloaded from this website.
On the complaint form it will be necessary to provide some basic information such as your name and address, the contractor's name and address, the date of the contract, when the work was performed and the nature of the problem. A construction inspector is assigned to investigate each complaint. Chosen for their construction knowledge and experience in the industry, the inspectors fill the role of an impartial third party who will evaluate each side's position and reach an independent judgment as to responsibility
What happens after a complaint is filed with the Registrar of Contractors?
Complaints Against Licensed Contractors
- The respondent (licensed contractor being complained about) is mailed a copy of the complaint and all attachments.
- An Investigator from the Registrar of Contractors (ROC) will investigate the alleged violation(s) and decide if a jobsite visit is necessary to determine whether construction standards have been met. If a jobsite visit is necessary, the ROC Investigator will advise the complainant and the respondent of the date and time of the inspection in writing sent by mail.
- Pursuant to A.R.S. § 32-1155(C) the complaint may be closed if either:
- the complainant does not permit the contractor 15 days from the date of this notice to inspect the work, or
- the contractor’s work has been subject to neglect, modification or abnormal use. Modification can be described as having all work corrected by someone other than respondent.
- If the complaint is for poor work or abandonment, a jobsite inspection will be conducted by the Investigator. The complainant is required to attend the jobsite inspection. The ROC encourages the respondent to also attend.
- The ROC Investigator through his or her investigation will evaluate information gathered at the jobsite visit, as well as review and assess building codes, plans and specifications, industry standards and other information furnished by the complainant and the respondent to determine the merit of each allegation in the complaint. The Investigator may also take photographs of the work performed and interview the parties as part of his or her investigation. The Investigator may contact the parties for additional information during the course of the investigation.
- If the ROC Investigator deteremines that items require correction, a Corrective Work Order will be sent to the respondent, with a copy to the complainant.
- If the contrator fails to comply with the Corrective Work Order within the timeframe provided in the Corrective Work Order, a Citation may be issued against the contractor.
- At the completion of the investigation, the Investigator will issue a recommendation to the ROC's Legal Department concerning the appropriate course of action the agency should take on the complaint. Such actions may include dismissal, informal or formal disciplinary actions, up to and including, the issuance of a Citation and Notice of Hearing against the respondent.
- Pursuant to A.R.S. § 32-1155(A), the ROC may, at its sole discretion, issue a Citation and Notice of Hearing. The Citation and Notice of Hearing is a formal, legal document that notifies the respondent of the specific statute(s) alleged to have been violated. The Citation and Notice of Hearing is sent certified mail to the respondent at the current address of record on file with the ROC.
Respondent Fails to Answer Citation Respondent Answers Citation
- Pursuant to A.R.S. § 32-1155(B), failure by the respondent to file a written answer within fifteen (15) calendar days after the date the citation is mailed constitutes an admission of the allegations and will result in the respondent’s license being disciplined without a hearing.
- A Default Decision and Order will be issued to the respondent with a copy to the complainant.
- The respondent cannot appeal a Default Decision and Order.
- If the respondent files a timely written answer to the Citation, an administrative hearing before an Administrative Law Judge employed by the Office of Administrative Hearings, a separate state agency, will be held.
- In most cases, the ROC will prosecute the case on behalf of the complainant and the citizens of Arizona.
- After the hearing, the ROC will provide the respondent with a written Order setting forth the ROC’s decision on the merits of the case. A copy of the Order will be sent to the complainant.
- The respondent may have appellate rights.
Recovery Fund Claims
- If the respondent’s residential or dual license is suspended or revoked as a result of the complaint, the complainant may be eligible for compensation from the Residential Contractors’ Recovery Fund.
- The Recovery Fund is a form of financial protection for residential homeowners funded by licensed Arizona residential and dual contractors.
- Criteria for determining eligibility for the Recovery Fund can be found on our website at http://www.azroc.gov/Recovery/eligibility.html
The respondent is advised that if its license is disciplined as a result of a complaint, any and all other licenses issued to it or any other persons named on the license may be subject to discipline in accordance with A.R.S. § 32-1154(A)(21).
Information contained in this document is meant to be instructional only and is not to constitute legal advice. The information is believed to be accurate at the time of its production. Questions necessitating legal advice or questions regarding civil laws or the civil court system should be addressed by your attorney. The Registrar is precluded from providing legal advice.
The State of Arizona requires all licensed residential contractors to provide financial protection to their customers. The protections apply whether you buy a new home, remodel, build a swimming pool or have a new roof put on your home. In order to recover compensation for damages on a building project, legal action in civil court is required. A lawyer is usually necessary when litigation is involved.
In order to obtain a license, a residential contractor must post a cash deposit or surety bond of $1,000.00 to $15,000.00. In addition, the residential contractor must either pay into the recovery fund or post a second bond of $200,000.00. The vast majority of contractors have chosen to participate in the fund. Therefore, there are actually two programs offering financial protection. We will explain in some detail how to collect from either one.
How to Collect From a License Bond.
When a residential contractor becomes licensed by the State of Arizona, the licensee must post a license bond ranging from $1,000.00 to $15,000.00. This may be posted in the form of cash, a certificate of deposit or a surety bond. The first thing to do is to find out the type of bond held by the contractor and to make sure that it has not already been paid out. This can be done by calling any of our offices and asking for bond information on the particular contractor or by visiting this website.
If the contractor has a surety bond, the surety company has the right to pay a written claim prior to court action, but generally most will require a judgment against the contractor and the surety company. So the first step with a surety bond is to file a written claim with the surety company. If the surety company will not pay your claim, then it is necessary to bring a lawsuit against the contractor and the surety company. Once a favorable judgment is received, the surety company will make payment to you. It is beyond the scope of this Agency to review the detailed procedures required during the lawsuit. For that you need to seek legal counsel. We recommend that you review the statutes governing bonds and the recovery fund that begin at A.R.S. 32-1131, copies of which are available at any of our offices or can be download from this website.
In order to collect from a cash bond, it is only the contractor who must be sued. It is important that our office be notified in writing when a lawsuit against a license bond has been started. This will prevent the bond from being refunded to the contractor.
A civil judgment against the contractor must specify that it may be satisfied from the cash bond on file with the State Treasurer. Since bonds are paid out in the order that judgments are received by the Treasurer, it is possible that a contractor's account could be depleted before you are able to obtain recovery. It is advisable to act promptly when a problem can't be resolved administratively.
A lawsuit against a license bond must be started within two years after the commission of the act on which the claim is based. When payment is made from a license bond, the contractor's license is automatically suspended until the bond is replaced.