DISCIPLINARY ACTION BY CONTRACTORS BOARD
Las Vegas has been one of the fastest growing cities in the country during the last several decades. Such dramatic growth involves billions of dollars in new construction of homes and buildings, as well as and construction of new highways or the improvement of existing roads, highways, utilities and other infrastructure. This growth has necessitated a broad expansion in the number of contractors needed to meet the demands of both public entities and private parties. Nevada, like most other states, has an administrative board that is responsible for the licensing and oversight of persons or entities (contractors) that perform construction work in this state. The board is referred to as the Nevada State Contractors Board and is governed by Chapters 624 of the Nevada Revised Statutes (NRS) and Nevada Administrative Code (NAC). The provisions of NRS 624 relating to the discipline of licensees are intended to promote public confidence and trust in the competence and integrity of licensees and to protect the health, safety and welfare of the public. In order to accomplish the legislative intent, it is necessary that the Contractors Board be able to investigate claims against licensees, hold hearings, and administer discipline when warranted.
Discipline by the Contractors Board can be in any of the following forms:
• The suspension or revocation of a license;
• Refusal of renewals of licenses;
• Imposition of the limits on the field, scope and monetary limit of the license;
• Imposition of an administrative fine of not more than $10,000;
• Order a licensee to repay to the account established pursuant to NRS 624.470, (homeowner’s recovery fund) any amount paid out of the account pursuant to NRS 624.510 as a result of an act or omission of that licensee;
• Order the licensee to take action to correct a condition resulting from an act which constitutes a cause for disciplinary action, at the licensee’s cost, that may consist of requiring the licensee to perform corrective work himself or herself, hire and pay another licensee to perform corrective work, or pay the owner of the construction project a specified sum to correct the condition; or
• Issue a public reprimand or take other less sever disciplinary action, including increasing the amount of the surety bond or cash deposit of the licensee.
However, not every potential complaint against a contractor constitutes grounds for disciplinary action by the Contractors Board. NRS 624.301 through 624.305 identify the acts that constitute grounds for disciplinary action. The acts that could result in disciplinary action are:
• Abandonment or failure to complete or diligently prosecute a project for construction;
• failure to comply with terms of contract or written warranty;
• Disregarding plans, specifications, laws or regulations;
• Diversion of money or property;
• Failure to pay for materials or services;
• False denial of amount due or validity of amount due, for materials or services;
• Failure to release a lien against property;
• Failure to keep records or maintain bond;
• Misrepresentations or omissions;
• Failure to establish financial responsibility or comply with laws or regulations of the Board;
• Misuse of License or evasion of the law;
• Unfair Business Practices, Misrepresentations involving need for service, replacement parts, equipment or repairs, false or misleading statement;
• Substandard workmanship or advertising projects beyond scope of license; and,
• Failure to pay child support or comply with certain subpoenas or warrants.
There are obviously many grounds upon which the Contractors Board has authority to administer disciplinary actions. While extensive, the Contractors Board’s authority is not without limits, and there are some instances where the Contractors Board has overstepped its authority. One such instance involved the Board threatening to revoke a contractor’s license over a contract dispute that was properly within the jurisdiction of the District Court. In the case of Bivins Construction v. State Contractor’s Board, 107 Nev. 281 (1991), the Nevada Supreme Court admonished the Contractors Board as follows:
We are also troubled by the Board’s assumption of what was essentially a judicial role in the resolution of this dispute. Its suspension of appellant’s contractor’s license pending payment of Pipe Paving’s claim was tantamount to the award of contract damages in a contested case. The Board does not have authority to impose damages upon parties subject to its licensing authority. See 624.300(1). The parties’ claims and counterclaims regarding their contract raised legal issues properly resolvable only by a court of law, if not by the parties themselves. We trust the Board will be mindful of the implications in its future decision making.
Thus, there are limits to the authority and enforcement of the provisions of Chapter 624 by the Contractors Board. When such enforcement is undertaken against a licensee it is imperative that the licensee obtain the services of an experienced attorney. The Wright Law Group, P.C. has decades of experience defending claims before the Contractors Board and is well equipped to assist you in handling your case. Please call us at 702-405-0001 to schedule a consultation or email us.