Answers to Frequently Asked Questions
Hiring a Contractor/
Inspections & Complaints
Inspections & Complaints
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 inspector from the Registrar of Contractors (ROC) will examine the alleged violation(s) and decide if a jobsite visit is necessary to determine whether minimum construction standards have been met. If a jobsite visit is necessary, the ROC inspector will advise the complainant and the respondent of the date and time of the inspection.
- 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.
For complaints involving allegations such as failure to pay, abandonment, or workmanship deficiencies where the deficiencies have already been corrected or are not subject to observation, no inspection will be scheduled or performed. The ROC inspector will send a letter to the parties encouraging them to make a good faith effort to resolve the complaint within the next 10 days.
- The complainant is required to attend the jobsite inspection. The ROC encourages the respondent to also attend.
- The ROC inspector will evaluate information gathered through 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.
- If after the completion of the investigation, the ROC inspector concludes that the allegation(s) has/have no merit, the complainant and the respondent will be notified in writing, and the complaint will likely be closed.
- If after the completion of the investigation, the ROC inspector finds that the results of the investigation are inconclusive, the complaint will likely be closed absent the complainant providing additional information to the ROC inspector supporting the allegations set forth in the complaint.
- If after the completion of the investigation, the ROC inspector determines that corrective action is required, a Corrective Work Order will be sent to the respondent setting forth the items requiring resolution or correction. A copy of the Corrective Work Order will also be sent to the complainant.
- If the contractor fails to comply with the Corrective Work Order within the timeframe provided in the Corrective Work Order, the complainant can request that a Citation be issued against the respondent’s license. Download form
- Pursuant to A.R.S. § 32-1155(A), the ROC may, at its sole discretion, issue a Citation. The Citation is a formal, legal document that notifies the respondent of the specific statute that is alleged to have been violated. The Citation is sent certified mail to the Respondent at the current address of record on file with the ROC.
- Pursuant to A.R.S. § 32-1155(A), 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.
- 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 scheduled. Neither party is required to be represented by an attorney at the hearing. However, this is a formal legal process and parties often choose to hire an attorney to represent their legal interests.
- The respondent and the complainant will receive a minimum of 30 days advance written notice of the date, time and place of the hearing.
- After the hearing, the Registrar will provide both parties with a written Order setting forth Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law.
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
Steps in the Complaint Process.
Notice of Complaint
Inspection and Investigation
Unsubstantiated Complaint OR Corrective Repair Order
- Financial Protection.
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.
- Financial Protection.