Oregon Contractor License Search

What You Should Know about Hiring a Contractor in Oregon

Hiring the right contractors for your project spares you a lot of stress and saves you money. A licensed contractor is the right choice to help you complete your project in line with regulatory codes and standards. There are about 41,000 licensed and active contractors in Oregon. These contractors carry required bond and insurance policies to cover damages, workplace injuries, and uncompleted work. Furthermore, hiring a licensed contractor also saves you from falling victim to a contractor scam.

Contractors typically require a state-issued license to ply their trade in Oregon. In light of everything mentioned so far, it is recommended that you consider the following factors before hiring a professional in Oregon:

Who Is a Contractor in Oregon?

A contractor is any person who bids for, offers, arranges, or agrees to provide services to an interested party in exchange for compensation. An oral or written contract typically determines the scope of these services, which often include the construction, alteration, modification, or improvement of buildings, structures, and real property. Contractors in Oregon must be licensed by the Construction Contractor's Board (CCB) before performing construction and home improvement-related activities in the state; however, exemptions may be made for projects worth less than $1,000 (provided that the work involved is minor and does not require permits). Electrical, plumbing, boiler, elevator, and manufactured housing contractors must also obtain a separate trade license from the state's Building Codes Division (BCD) in addition to their respective CCB-issued license.

The CCB offers interested contractors several license endorsements based on the scope of services and types of structures they intend to work on. These endorsements can be grouped into two main categories:

  • Residential Endorsements: contractors with a residential endorsement can work on residential and commercial structures, provided that the total value of the work performed on the structure does not exceed $250,000.
  • Commercial Endorsements: contractors with commercial endorsements can work on any commercial structures.

Similarly, Oregon contractors can be grouped into three main classes, regardless of their license endorsement or classification:

  • General Contractors: these contractors arrange for and supervise building and construction projects on behalf of the project owner and may also do a broad range of construction work on these projects.
  • Specialty Contractors: these contractors typically perform specific tasks on construction projects, like roofing, flooring, woodwork, painting, HVAC, plumbing, and electrical work. Notice that electricians and plumbers need a separate BCD-issued trade license (in addition to the CCB-issued contractor's license).
  • Subcontractors: these are simply specialty contractors hired by a general contractor as part of an overarching project. Subcontractors typically deal directly with general contractors and have no contact with project owners.

How to Search for a Contractor's License in Oregon

Oregon contractors require a license from the Construction Contractors Board (CCB) to operate in the state; electricians and plumbers also need an additional trade license from the state's Building Codes Division (BCD). You can use the Uhire Professional License Search tool to confirm whether your intended contractors have the required licenses for your project and are thus qualified to offer the services you need. You can also verify your contractors' license status using the CCB's Contractor License Search portal and the BCD's License Holder Search platform (for electrical and plumbing trade licenses).

Penalty for Hiring a Contractor Without a License in Oregon

Generally, there are no legal penalties for hiring unlicensed contractors in Oregon; however, doing this can have several consequences:

  • Out-of-Pocket Expenses: unlicensed contractors usually have inadequate insurance and bond coverage. If you hire these contractors, you will have to bear the costs of any accidents, injuries, or property damage that may occur during your project.
  • Project Problems and Delays: unlicensed contractors typically lack the expertise, experience, and knowledge to carry out projects safely and effectively. They are also more inclined to take shortcuts when doing the work, which invariably leads to subpar service delivery.
  • Code Violations: unlicensed contractors cannot obtain the necessary permits for your project; performing construction and home improvement work without these permits results in fines, administrative penalties, and can even negatively impact your property's value.

Per state law, it is a Class A misdemeanor to bid for or perform construction-related work in Oregon without an appropriate contractor's license. Violators face civil penalties of up to $1,000 for first offenders and steeper penalties for repeat offenses. However, when a homeowner files a complaint for damages against the contractor, the penalty for first offenders goes up to $5,000 per offense.

How Much Does a Contractor Charge in Oregon?

Specialty contractors in Oregon charge average hourly rates of $40 - $100; the overall costs for engaging the services of these contractors depend on the nature, scope, and complexity of the services you need, as well as the contractor's level of experience.

Average hourly rates for different specialty contractors (and subcontractors) in Oregon are shown in the table below. Be aware that actual costs may differ based on your location and the contractor's reputation:

$55 - $100
$55 - $100
HVACR Technicians
$50 - $90
$45 - $90
$45 - $80
$50 - $100
Flooring Contractors
$45 - $85
$50 - $85
$45 - $80
$70 - $175
Interior Designers
$60 - $155
Excavation Contractors
$80 - $150
Concrete Contractors
$50 - $85
$40 - $75
Appliance Repair Technicians
$45 - $90
$60 - $90
Cleaning Services
$45 - $80
$50 - $120

Multiple specialty contractors are typically needed for most construction and home improvement projects; managing all these contractors on your own can be challenging and time-consuming. However, you can pay a general contractor a percentage of the project's overall cost to take on this responsibility and manage the entire project on your behalf. This percentage typically ranges between 10 and 20 percent, and actual costs are usually calculated using the following methods:

  • Fixed Bid / Lump Sum: this method involves the general contractor offering a fixed price for the project; this amount covers the cost of all necessary materials, labor, and the contractor's fees. Fixed bid pricing is preferred for projects with a clear scope and deadline.
  • Cost Plus / Time and Materials: this method involves the contractor offering a cost estimate for the project's supplies and materials plus a separate hourly rate for labor. Cost plus pricing is preferred for projects without a clear scope or deadline.

The average cost per square foot for construction and home improvement projects in Oregon ranges typically from $95 - $145 per square foot; however, several factors will affect the actual cost of your project. Some of these factors are as follows:

  • Your location
  • The nature and scope of work to be done
  • The experience and reputation of involved contractors
  • Contractor charges
  • Labor and materials costs
  • Permit fees and other related expenses

Tips for Hiring a Contractor in Oregon

Construction and home improvement project costs are often very high; even relatively simple house repairs can run into hundreds of dollars. Therefore, selecting qualified contractors who can ensure your project is executed satisfactorily and within budget is crucial. The tips below can help you make the right decision when hiring contractors in Oregon:

  • Categorize the project and identify the kinds of contractors needed.
  • Get and compare bids for your project from multiple contractors.
  • Get local references from your prospective contractors and check them. You can also look up a contractor's complaint history online.
  • Confirm the contractors' license status. Also, ensure they are adequately insured and bonded.
  • Get a well-detailed written contract before any work starts. Be aware that a written contract is required for residential projects costing more than $2,000.
  • Review all documents carefully before signing.
  • Avoid large down payments and never pay the project's total cost upfront. Per state law, contractors must accept progress payments for projects expected to take 60 days or more; however, you should consider this approach for all your projects, regardless of their timeline or scope.
  • Avoid untraceable payment methods, like cash and cryptocurrency.
  • Maintain meticulous records of all project-related paperwork.

Is Your Contractor Insured and Bonded as Required by Oregon Statutes?

Contractors in Oregon must comply with certain financial obligations depending on their license endorsement and classification:

  • Contractors with a residential endorsement must post and maintain bonds ranging from $10,000 to $20,000. On the other hand, those with a commercial endorsement must post and maintain bonds ranging from $20,000 to $75,000.
  • Residential contractors must carry liability insurance with minimum limits of between $100,000 and $500,000 per occurrence; commercial contractors' minimum limits range from $500,000 to $2,000,000.
  • All contractors must provide proof of workers' compensation insurance coverage or an exemption where applicable.

Hiring contractors who have complied with these insurance and bond requirements protects you from liability if injuries, property damage, contractor-caused errors, and other similar incidents occur during your project. Notice that even though insurance and bond coverage complement one another, they offer different forms of protection. Insurance protects both the contractor and project owner by ensuring neither of them has to pay out-of-pocket for project-related incidents. In contrast, bonds protect the project owner from losses caused by the contractor's failure to provide the services agreed upon.

As such, always confirm your intended contractors' insurance and bond coverage before committing to them. You can do this by requesting copies of their insurance and bond certificates and validating these documents with the appropriate issuing organizations. Additionally, ensure that the contractors' actual coverage limits are sufficient for the nature and scope of your project.

You can contact the Oregon Construction Contractors Board at (503) 378-4621 with any questions about the state's mandatory insurance and bond requirements for contractors.

Top Home Improvement Scams in Oregon

Approximately 1.1 out of every 10,000 Oregonian homeowners have fallen for a home improvement scam. Per data published by the state's Department of Justice, these scams were the eighth top complaint category among consumers in 2022.

Here are a few red flags that indicate you may be dealing with a contractor looking to scam you:

  • The contractor shows up at your door unsolicited.
  • The contractor offers significantly low rates or one-time-only discounts.
  • The contractor is hesitant to provide a written contract.
  • The contractor demands cash upfront.
  • The contractor offers you a discount if you can find more customers in the area.
  • The contractor uses an unmarked vehicle with out-of-state plates.
  • The contractor tries to fast-talk or scare you into making on-the-spot decisions.
  • The contractor's business card lists an 800 phone number and a PO Box as their contact details.

You can protect yourself from home improvement scams in Oregon by taking the following precautions:

  • Be cautious of door-to-door contractors.
  • Do not make on-the-spot decisions. Always compare bids from several contractors.
  • Always confirm a contractor's license status before hiring. You can also call (503) 378-4621 to check their complaint history.
  • Always get a written contract that includes a description of the work to be done, its total cost, and a project timeline.
  • Never pay the total amount of the project upfront, and limit down payments to 10 – 30 percent of the project's total cost.
  • Refrain from paying in cash and never write checks in the contractor's name. Checks should be made payable to the contracting business.

How to Report Fraudulent Oregon Contractors

You can file complaints against fraudulent contractors in Oregon and seek restitution for these contractors' actions through several agencies:

The Oregon Construction Contractors Board

You can file complaints against licensed contractors with the CCB for breach of contract or subpar service delivery; however, you will have to mail the contractor in question a written notice of your intent to file a complaint at least 30 days before filing this complaint. You may also have to pay a $50 processing fee after your complaint has been filed and reviewed.

Complaints must be filed with the CCB no later than one year after the work in question was done. In situations involving new construction, complaints must be filed no later than one year after the building was first occupied or two years after it was substantially completed. Contact the CCB at (503) 934-2247 for more information on its complaint submission process.

The Oregon Department of Justice

You can report matters involving licensed and unlicensed contractors to the state's Department of Justice online. Be aware that this office cannot give you legal advice or act as your private attorney. You can call its consumer hotline at 1-877-877-9392 if you have questions concerning its complaint resolution process.

Small Claims Court

You can seek personal remedies for up to $10,000 from fraudulent contractors by filing a lawsuit at your local Small Claims Court. These courts are specially tailored for people who need their cases heard relatively quickly and do not wish to use an attorney. Note that matters involving more than $10,000 must be filed in a Civil Court (disputes involving $750 - $10,000 may also be filed in these courts). Filing fees vary by county and are usually determined by the value of the claim and the specific court in which you file the case.

The Police Department

We advise contacting your local police department immediately if a contractor physically threatens you or commits any criminal acts.

The Better Business Bureau (BBB)

You can report fraudulent contractors to your local BBB chapter and get assistance seeking restitution from these contractors through this organization. Reporting a fraudulent contractor to the BBB also helps protect other homeowners in your neighborhood from falling victim to their scams.