Economic Crimes Prevention
Message from Hampton Police
Homeowners often look to improve on their property investment. Many of these home improvement projects are cosmetic while others will be more in-depth resulting in the need for a licensed contractor. For the sake of money and associated expense, homeowners are quick to label themselves minor home repair “specialists.” However, should larger more complex home improvement projects be planned a licensed contractor would be the best approach. A homeowner doing their due diligence by researching the person or business they hire as well as the details of the project itself should greatly improve the enjoyment of a completed job or repair.
Criminal vs. Civil Complaints
Many times, complaints made to the police by a homeowner involve a lack of satisfaction with the finished project. This results in the homeowner demanding that the hired contractor be arrested for contract fraud. These matters are not a criminal offense, but rather a civil matter.
There is an exception. Incidents where a contractor receives money for a project and does little to no work have been deemed a criminal matter under Virginia State Code 18.2- 200.1 - Construction Fraud. Another related complaint involves the contractor not having an appropriate license to accomplish the work. Often the homeowner will discover that the hired contractor was not licensed and will allow them to complete the project in hopes of saving money. This approach could result in added expenses to the homeowner later. Additionally, when a homeowner receives a building permit and places their name on it, this indicates that they are assuming all responsibility and liability for the improvement or repair. If this were to occur and your contractor urges you to do so, consider this as a red flag that the contractor might not have the required training, knowledge, license(s), or insurance for the job.
Tips for Homeowners
- Check if a contractor license is required by contacting the Virginia Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation at (804) 367-8511 or Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. You are encouraged to visit their site at http://www.contractors-license.org/va/va.htm.
- Check if the contractor has a business license to perform work within the City of Hampton by contacting the Business License Division of the Commissioner of Revenue Office at 757-728-6700.
- Check what regulations are required for your home improvement project by contacting the City of Hampton’s Codes and Compliance Office through the city’s 311 Call Center at 757-727-8311.
- Check to see if the contractor has had any pending lawsuits filed against them or their business at http://www.courts.state.va.us/caseinfo/home.html.
Construction Fraud Checklist
Review this construction fraud checklist (PDF) whenever you have work done on your property to reduce the chance of fraud.