As Insurance claims continue to be adjusted and paid out, Louisiana residential, commercial, and industrial property owners will begin the process of contracting with Contractors to repair hurricane damage. As you do so, be mindful of Louisiana’s Contractors’ Licensing law and its potential impact on you. First, know that the purpose of the licensing law is to protect Louisiana’s citizens by attempting to ensure that contractors have at least a minimal level of financial resources and insurance coverage, basic construction knowledge, and some accountability for their financial obligations. The benefit to citizens is the initial screening or weeding out of contractors that have absolutely no business in that business. It’s not foolproof, but it does help.

What the Licensing law will not do is effectively resolve any breach of contract type disputes. Assuming the contractor has met the minimum standards set out by the licensing law and been issued a license by the Board, there is not much the Board can do as a practical matter to help resolve a dispute between you and the Contractor. The Licensing law leaves resolution of those disputes to the Judicial system. The Board can be of assistance in collecting a judgment against a contractor you have already obtained through the Court system, but that’s about it.

What does the Licensing Law Require? The fundamental requirement of the Licensing law is its requirement only a licensed contractor may contract for a commercial or residential construction project of over $50,000. It also provides that for a residential project of over $7,500, the residential contractor be a registered home improvement contractor, and that there be a written contract. Any contractor remediating mold or asbestos must be licensed, regardless of the value of the project.

Where the licensing board discovers or suspects a violation of the licensing law, it can issue a “Cease and Desist” order requiring the project to stop in its tracks. It also has a relatively quick and easy path through the judicial system to seek civil and even criminal penalties for violations.

How do you know if a contractor is licensed? Some of the simplest ways are to contact the Board by phone or email through the contact information provided at their website.  Or, you can search the database maintained by the Board .