What Are Wyoming Contractors?
In the State of Wyoming, contractors are trade professionals whose works involve carrying out repair, modification, restructuring, remodeling, and renovation services on residential properties. Except for electrical contractors, who are required to obtain a state-issued license from the Wyoming Department of Fire Prevention and Electrical Safety, Wyoming does not regulate or issue occupational licenses to contractors at a state level. Instead, each of the state’s 99 municipalities is responsible for the regulation and licensure of contractors within their respective jurisdictions. Nonetheless, home improvement contractors, and all other businesses and corporate bodies in the state, must maintain a valid business registration with the Office of the Wyoming Secretary of State.
Note that even though contractors are not regulated at a state level, several other professionals in Wyoming are required to obtain state-issued licenses from various occupational boards and agencies. These include professional engineers and surveyors, architects, and landscape architects, and mental health professionals. Likewise, the over 1,700 legal practitioners that practice in Wyoming are regulated and supervised at a state level by the Wyoming Judicial Branch.
Tips for Hiring a Contractor
Most home improvement projects are intended to enhance the comfort, functionality, and luxury that your home provides. However, hiring the wrong contractor for the improvement project may not do much to achieve that. In fact, in addition to not getting the due value for the cost of the project, shoddy or substandard work puts the safety of the inhabitants of such property at risk. It is, therefore, necessary for homeowners to take steps that will ensure that they hire the most qualified contractors to work on what is arguably their most prized asset. The steps below will help homeowners make the most informed hiring decision:
- Consult building professionals, such as architects and interior designers, to determine the exact type of project you need to execute and what class of contractor handles such work.
- Approach your local building regulatory authorities to determine what permits are required for your project and what class of license a contractor must hold. You should also take the opportunity to find out how to verify a license and work permit.
- Seek referrals from neighbors, relatives, and trusted friends who may have undertaken a similar project recently. It is preferable to seek local referrals to ensure you can enforce the applicable local license and permit requirements.
- Request proof of locally issued contractor licenses from prospective contractors and verify according to the instructions you must have received from the local regulatory agency. If your project involves electrical work, ask to see a state-issued contractor license and confirm its authenticity through the Wyoming Electrician eLicense Portal.
- Ask to be pointed to recent projects that these contractors have executed, particularly those similar to your proposed project. Since you will most likely be referred to projects in your locality, you should visit these projects in person and speak to the clients for whom the contractors executed the projects. Make inquiries about the contractor's skill, professionalism, and job ethics. Ask these past clients if they will recommend hiring the contractor, and where possible, ask to be allowed a closer look and inspection on the projects.
- Proceed only with contractors whose past clients provided satisfactory reviews about their jobs and ask for a written project quote. This is important for the purpose of comparing the cost of the project and the quality of materials, as well as to prevent a contractor from arbitrarily adding extra costs or inflating prices.
- Request for a written project contract. At the minimum, this contract should contain the contractor’s contact information, a description of the project to be executed and the required materials, the project’s cost and payment arrangement, a proposed project initiation and completion timeframe, and a provision that the homeowner and contractor must sign any changes to the contract terms.
- Hire an attorney to oversee the legal and financing aspects of the project, especially projects that involve substantial amounts of money. This will ensure that you do not put yourself in a compromising situation when you sign a legal contract or financing agreement.
- Plan your payments in a manner that will ensure that you only pay the contractors what they have earned by the level of progress on your project. While down payments are understandable, pay only what is necessary to initiate your project, and this should never exceed a third of the entire project cost. Also, remember that it is better to pay with a means that will allow you to trace or track payment in the future such as a check or card.
- Carefully inspect and assess the finished work before signing the final paycheck. For large remodeling projects, ensure that the local building regulatory agency inspects and is satisfied with the level of safety compliance before you make the final payment.
- Keep all paperwork relating to the project such as contracts, quotes, and warranties.
The Wyoming Home Solicitation Sale Law gives homeowners the right to cancel a home improvement sale within three business days of entering into it, a period referred to as the "cooling period". To cancel a contract within the cooling-off period, a buyer must send a written notice of cancellation via certified mail to the mailing address of the seller. The seller will have ten days after receiving the homeowner's notice of cancellation to refund the down payment if any has been made.
How to Search a Contractor’s License in Wyoming?
Considering that the regulation of construction-related activity in Wyoming is deferred to local government authorities, you will be required to contact the licensing agency in your area of residence to perform this task. You may also be required to provide information such as the contractor’s name and the contractor’s license number before you will be able to confirm whether or not the individual has fulfilled the required licensing obligations for your locality. You can access contact information on the cities, towns, and municipalities in Wyoming and their respective licensing agencies via the Wyoming Association of Municipalities’ online member directory.
Note that electrical contractors in Wyoming are required to obtain state-issued licenses Wyoming Department of Fire Prevention and Electrical Safety, and you can authenticate these licenses by performing name or licensed number-based searches on this department’s Public Lookup Portal.
While there are no state laws that penalize the hiring of unlicensed contractors in Wyoming, it is always in your best interest to do so, as this protects you from possible financial liabilities in the event of unforeseen circumstances like on-the-job accidents. It is also a good idea to find out from your local licensing agency if there are any location-specific penalties for either hiring unlicensed contractors or performing contracting work without an appropriate license in your area of residence.
How Much Does a Contractor Charge in
Once you are left with a pool of contractors that are evenly matched in qualification, expertise, and reputation, the final factor that should influence your decision should be the fee that they charge. Generally, contractor fees vary in relation to the type and amount of work, the number and cost of permits required for the job, and the contractor’s job credentials. Knowing the fee range for certain projects allows you to decide what fee is too low, which is usually a red flag, and what fee is too high. The average home improvement contractor in Wyoming charges between $35 to $70 per hour. The fee for specific categories of contractors vary by locality and the ranges are estimated below:
Large and financed projects will, more often than not, require the services of a qualified attorney to supervise the legal and financing aspects of the projects. Attorneys in Wyoming charge around $60 to $150 hourly, which may be further determined by the size of the project in question and the level of an attorney’s professional certification.
What Are Home Improvement
Scams in Wyoming?
While there is usually a pool of reputable contractors to hire from in Wyoming and its localities, there are also individuals, licensed or not, who employ deceptive, dishonest, and fraudulent tactics to cheat unsuspecting homeowners. Possible scams inherent in hiring for home improvement projects include contractors' use of inferior supplies, deliberate inflation of prices, and doing shoddy work which will necessitate a repeat service in the near future. Some of the red flags which may indicate that a contractor may be scheming to scam you are given below:
- A contractor goes about conducting businesses in an unmarked or unidentifiable van or truck
- A contractor charges an unusually low price
- A contractor asks for an unreasonable amount of down payment, such as asking to be paid the entire cost of the project or more than a third of it.
- A contractor is unable to provide a verifiable local license, or the homeowner is unable to find the contracting company listed by the office of the Secretary of State.
- A contractor repeatedly refuses to offer you a written project quote and contract
- A contractor tries to persuade you into making a hasty decision by using high-pressure tactics, like saying the offer is only for a day.
Homeowners must take necessary precautions to avoid falling victim to this type of scam which can be costly financially and otherwise. The following tips can help consumers avoid home improvement scams:
- Homeowners must work with only contractors licensed in their locality. Hiring an unlicensed contractor to reduce the cost of the project is potentially dangerous. Asides from receiving poor service and being sanctioned by the local regulatory authority, a homeowner will incur substantial additional costs to hire a licensed contractor for rectification.
- Homeowners must request a signed contract between themselves and the contractor. This will serve as a reference point if a problem arises.
- Homeowners must enforce the required building permits. Most dubious contractors try to bypass this in order to cut costs and to avoid the watchful eyes of the regulators.
- Homeowners must specify a timeline for the start and completion of the project to prevent the contractor from exploiting this window to delay execution unnecessarily.
- The written home improvement contract must state the homeowner’s right to cancel within three business days.
- Homeowners must take extra precautions when dealing with a door-to-door contractor. Most reputable contractors will not go about seeking out jobs. If the homeowner decides to work with a door-to-door contractor, then they must research the contractor and be convinced about the legitimacy of the company.
Homeowners can lodge complaints about a contractor’s unfair and fraudulent practices by contacting the Consumer Protection Unit of the Office of the State Attorney General at (307) 777-6397 or toll-free at (800) 438-5799. Alternatively, homeowners can complete and submit a Consumer Complaints Form to:
- Office of the Attorney General
Consumer Protection Unit
2320 Capitol Avenue
Cheyenne, WY 82002
What are Common Home Improvement Scams in Wyoming?
It is not sufficient to only recognize that there are risks of being scammed in executing home improvement projects. Homeowners must have enough information to figure out early enough that a contractor is employing fraudulent tactics. Knowing how the most common home improvement scams play out will help homeowners in this regard. The following are the most frequently perpetrated home improvement scams in Wyoming:
- Asphalt Paving Scam: This scam is mostly perpetrated by out-of-state contractors during summer months and warm springs. These dubious contractors approach unsuspecting homeowners, offering asphalt paving services at an unusually low discount. These scammers then try to justify these low costs by claiming they have leftover materials from a job they had just completed in the neighborhood. To convince homeowners further, some of them claim to work for the state’s Department of Transportation or a corresponding local agency. These fraudulent contractors then proceed to do shoddy work and take full payment before leaving, ensuring to leave no contact information for the homeowners. By the time homeowners discover that these contractors have done a shoddy job, they will have been out of reach, as they move from one community to another.
- Verbal Quote Scam: The common tactic devised by fraudulent contractors in this type of scam is to refuse to offer you a written and signed project quote. They quote low prices verbally to get the homeowner to agree quickly. Once the project is underway, and without any basis, they start to add more costs to the initially stated cost. If a homeowner protests these frivolous and arbitrary additions by refusing to pay, they threaten to abandon the project in its incomplete state. This threat will usually force a homeowner to make the additional payments.
- Home Improvement Contract Scam: This scam involves mischievous contractors deliberately omitting certain items in the contract in order to provide a window to exploit the contractor. For instance, a home improvement contractor may deliberately refuse to state the quality of materials to be used for the project. The contractor then goes on to quote top-quality materials and their attendant high costs for the homeowner. However, the contractor eventually purchases materials that are of lower quality and lower prices in a bid to scoop the price difference as a profit.
Among the different categories of homeowners, elderly homeowners are the most targeted, given that they are considered mentally and physically incapable of properly scrutinizing a contractor. All homeowners must also be cautious with their project payment arrangement, employing clever payment tactics in the absence of applicable state laws. For example, homeowners should not pay more than a third of the entire cost of the project up front, and must only make subsequent payments in a manner reflective of the level of the project’s progress.
In April 2019, the District Court of Laramie County in Wyoming, entered a Default Judgment against an asphalt paving company and its owners, ordering them a refund payment of more than $36,000 and an $870,000 civil payment. The contractors who offered home door-to-door asphalt paving services between 2013 and 2016 under several different names, had tricked several homeowners into paying huge sums for driveway pavement services. Homeowners only found out later that the contractors had carried out shoddy work when the driveways deteriorated soon after into loose gravel. The contractors also consistently ignored homeowners’ complaints and calls for rectification, while they left fake addresses and phone numbers for some other homeowners.
Homeowners may report cases of suspected scams to the Consumer Protection Unit of the state’s Attorney General’s office via phone at (307) 777-6397 or on the toll-free line at (800) 438-5799. Homeowners may also report cases of home improvement scams by completing and mailing a Consumer Complaints Form to:
- Office of the Attorney General
Consumer Protection Unit
2320 Capitol Avenue
Cheyenne, WY 82002
What are Disaster Scams in Wyoming?
Disaster scams occur when unscrupulous home improvement companies take advantage of the heightened need for home repair services following a disaster to scam the affected homeowners. These contractors are typically well informed that victims may have been paid property insurance claims and other monetary assistance. Some of the deceptive schemes employed by these fraudulent contractors include receiving payment without executing the job, utilizing low-grade supplies in violation of the contract agreement, and arranging compromising financing options for homeowner victims. Disaster victims need to exercise caution before engaging a contractor to repair their damaged properties after a disaster. Here are a few useful tips:
- Ask anyone claiming to be a government inspector to provide valid identification. Never grant them entry into your home without first verifying their claims with the agency they lay claim to. In any case, avoid giving out sensitive financial information that may make you a target of a scam.
- Employ contractors who have a reputation in your locality. This is safer and removes the risk of hiring a fraudulent out-of-state contractor.
- Ask for proof of licensure and verify. Also, verify any work permit they claim to have obtained at the local regulatory agency.
- Carefully scrutinize any repair work financing offer. There are usually a ton of them out there after a disaster. It is preferable to hire a qualified attorney for this purpose to avoid signing an exploitative contract.
- Do not make large upfront payments as this is usually an avenue for a dubious contractor to run away with your money. Pay a contractor according to the amount of job done.
Homeowners can report disaster frauds at the Office of the state’s Attorney General by calling either (307) 777-6397 or (800) 438-5799.
What are Common Legal
Work Scams in Wyoming?
In Wyoming, legal works scams are perpetrated when an individual is dispossessed of an asset or cheated as a result of either the misconduct of a dishonest attorney or a con-artist utilizing fraudulent law-related schemes in legal matters that they were involved in. Fraudulent attorneys and other mischievous persons may also conspire to perpetrate legal work scams. As such, consumers must always be on the alert to prevent falling for legal work scams in the state some of which include:
- Jury Duty Scam: In this type of scam, a consumer receives a call from an unknown person fronting as a court official. The caller claims the consumer has failed to show up for jury duty and hence, is being fined or will be arrested. The caller then offers the consumer a way out by asking them to make monetary payments into an account. In other instances, the callers ask for sensitive financial information supposedly for verification. An uninformed consumer seeking to prevent the situation from escalating quickly gives in to the demands of the caller.
- Inheritance Scam: The common scheme in this scam involves a consumer receiving a letter by mail or email from a law firm representing the consumer’s deceased relative. These fraudulent “legal representatives” then claim that their deceased client left some assets behind and had willed them to the consumer. To take possession of these assets, the consumer is then asked to pay a small amount of money as an administrative fee. This initial small monetary request is usually to earn the trust of the consumer who would imagine that a fraudster would possibly not ask for such a small amount. Soon after, the fraudsters then offer to wire the monetary assets into the bank account of the consumer. The unsuspecting consumer is then made to share sensitive financial information that is then used to commit a larger scale fraud. ,
- Attorney-client Frauds: This involves all forms of dishonest and fraudulent practices by a dubious attorney in a typical attorney-client setting. The different frauds that may be committed in such setting will include wiring money from a clients’ account without their knowledge and approval, applying for loans and other social welfare programs in the client's name without a request to do such from the client, and preparing and tricking clients into signing a contract that compromises their rights over their assets.
Consumers will find the following tips helpful in preventing these scams and others similar to them:
- Hiring and involving qualified attorneys in all legal, business, and contract matters. It is preferable to hire attorneys based on referrals from informed associates and trusted family members. Another option would be to hire via recognized professional associations such as the Wyoming State Bar.
- Learning about the professional obligations of their attorneys in order to sense when they are going out of bounds or being complacent.
- Verifying the status of their account with an attorney on a regular basis, and seeking timely case updates and developments.
The Wyoming State Bar maintains the Client Protection Fund (CPF) to refund clients who have been illegally dispossessed of their monies and properties as a result of professional misconduct on the part of a member of the state bar. The CPF is funded by the license fees which members of the bar pay. Victims of attorney-perpetrated scams may seek reimbursement by completing and mailing a notarized Client Protection Fund Confidential Statement of Claim form to:
- Client Protection Fund of the Wyoming State Bar
P.O. Box 109
Cheyenne, WY 82003
While claims can be completed online, consumers must still mail a completed and notarized hardcopy to the state bar at the above address.
To file complaints about an attorney’s misconduct, consumers will have to complete and mail an original copy of an Ethical Violations Complaint Form along with photocopies of documents supporting their claims to:
- Office of Bar Counsel
Wyoming State Bar
P.O. Box 109
Cheyenne, WY 82003-0109
Completed forms and other documents may also be sent to the state bar by fax (307) 632-3737 or by email. To report other legal work scams perpetrated by non-attorneys, consumers may contact the office of the state’s Attorney General at (307) 777-6397 or on this office’s toll-free line at (800) 438-5799.
How Long Does it Take to Get a License in
The time taken to process a locally issued contractor license application varies across the different localities in the state. Generally, the time it will take to process a license is determined by the category of license, the license qualification and assessment processes, and the volume of applications the licensing agency has the capability to process at a time. Interested applicants can learn the applicable local license processing timeline at the relevant local regulatory agencies, or the Electrical Board of the state’s Department of Fire Prevention and Electrical Safety for applicants interested in obtaining a state-issued electrical contractor’s license.
How to Maintain your License in Wyoming
Holders of locally-issued contractor licenses must make inquiries at the local regulatory agencies about how to make updates to their license information. State-issued electrical license holders can make changes to their profiles online via the state fire marshal’s public portal.
Likewise, attorneys in Wyoming have to report 15 hours of Continuing Legal Education (CLE) annually, and this must include two hours of ethics. However, emeritus attorneys are only required to report seven hours of CLE.
How to Renew Contractor License in
State-issued electrical licenses last for three years and are renewable for $100 and the renewal procedure can be carried out online. License renewal opens 90 days before the first day of July in the license expiration year. License renewal applications close on the first day of September in the year of expiration. Beyond this period, a $50 late renewal fee applies. However, this late fee only applies within a 45-day grace period from the date of license expiration. If a license holder exceeds this period without renewal, then such licensee will have to reapply and write the licensing exam again.
Information on the renewal of other categories of contractor licenses that are issued locally may be obtained at the relevant regulatory agency.
Per the provisions of Article 1, Section 5, of the Wyoming State Bar Bylaws, attorneys in the state are mandated to pay license fees on a yearly basis. The amount that the attorneys are required to pay depends on the attorney's professional status. Existing members of the bar are expected to make payments between October 1st and November 30th, while freshly admitted members of the bar are expected to make payment around 60 days after their admission into the bar. Note that payments for newly admitted attorneys is usually prorated on the basis of the attorney's month of admission. These attorneys are also given a 75-day grace period to make the applicable payment, after which their licenses to practice law may be suspended. On the other hand, old members of the State Bar that do not pay their fees by November 30th will have to pay an additional late payment fee, and failure to pay these fees by December 15th will result in a suspension from the practice of law in the state.