What Are Alaska Contractors?
The Division of Corporations, Business and Professional Licensing of the Alaska Department of Commerce, Community, and Economic Development regulates over 30,000 professionals spread across over 40 occupations, including construction, real estate appraising, and electrical administration. Per Alaska Construction Contractor Statutes and Regulations, contractors that perform residential home improvements must be licensed by the Division. In addition to the state-Issued license, contractors may also be required to register locally with the city or county governments they operate within. For example, any individual or business engaged in construction within the Municipality of Anchorage Service Area must obtain a Municipal Contractors License.
Besides the Division of Corporations, Business and Professional Licensing and, in certain cases, the municipal governments, some other authorities regulate certain professionals. For example, auto dealers and attorneys in Alaska are licensed by the State's Division of Motor Vehicles and Bar Association respectively. As of February 2021, the State Bar Association has a record of about 4,600 registered members, including those practicing outside the state.
Tips for Hiring a Contractor
Whether you are planning to build, remodel, or repair, your home improvement project would likely require the services of a contractor. Home improvement projects in Alaska can easily cost thousands of dollars, making selecting the right contractor very critical. Below are helpful tips you should consider when hiring a contractor:
- Confirm that your prospective contractor has the requisite license to do the particular home improvement work. Depending on the type and amount of work to be done, contractors in Alaska are classified as either general contractors, residential contractors, handyman contractors, electrical contractors, or mechanical contractors. You can verify the contractor’s professional license online by using the professional license search or the search corporations database for the status of the contractor’s entity. Note that general contractors that carry out residential work greater than 25 percent of the value of the structure being altered are required by law to also obtain a residential contractor endorsement
- Make sure the contractor has adequate bonding and insurance. Hiring a bonded contractor is important because this bond serves as a source of funds that can be made available to the homeowner if the contractor’s work is negligently performed. Be wary of contractors who may claim to be licensed and insured when they only have a business license and liability insurance instead of a professional license and a bond
- Check references and try to reach out to former clients who are familiar with the contractor's work, reliability, and business practices
- Try to get two or three bids from different contractors for your project, and get written estimates that include detailed specifications for the job, the materials, labor, timeline, and the total charges for the work
- Utilize the Better Business Bureau (BBB) to check for complaints against the contractor. Also, check court records to see if any claims have been brought against the contractor for incomplete or low-quality work or other unfair and deceptive practices
- Demand a comprehensive written contract, and spend time reviewing it with an attorney if possible. Note that Alaska has a five-day cancellation period for agreements signed outside the contractor's place of business. The contractor should also notify you of this right in writing
- Obtain and retain copies of all written documents, such as contracts and receipts from vendors and those that provide materials for the project
- Pay in installments as the job progresses, rather than paying the entire contract fee all at once
- Report unlicensed construction contractors to the Alaska Department of Labor & Workforce Development by calling (907) 269-4925 or via email.
How to Search A Contractor's License in Alaska?
Homeowners in Alaska are advised to ensure their contractors are properly licensed before making the first payment for a project. You can check your contractor's license status in the state, by carrying out a Professional License Search on the Division of Corporations, Business Licensing and Professional Licensing webpage. The search result shows the contractor’s license number, license status, license specialty, last name, business name, city and if there are any licensing actions taken against the contractor.
The Alaska Department of Commerce, Community, and Economic Development, Division of Corporations, Business, and Professional Licensing offers three classifications of licenses for general contractors practicing in the state. These classification include:
- General contractors with Residential Contractor Endorsement are allowed to undertake home construction or alteration of 25% or more of the value of the property value.
- General contractors without Residential Contractor Endorsement can only undertake home construction or alteration less than 25% of the value of the property value.
- General contractor handyman are only permitted to work on project with total cost for labor and material under $10,000
Under Alaska Statute 08.18.125, contractors caught without proper licensing in the state, will pay an administrative penalty of a $1000 fine for a first offense and $1500 fine for subsequent offenses. Note, each day of working without the appropriate license constitutes a separate violation.
How Much Does a Contractor Charge in
The amount of money a contractor charges in Alaska is determined by various factors, including the type of job, the materials needed, and the amount of labor needed to complete the work. Alaska contractors typically charge between $10 and $75 hourly, excluding expenses like labor and materials. Below are the range of hourly costs you can expect to pay to certain types of home improvement contractors in Alaska:
During your home improvement project, you may also wish to hire an attorney for different forms of legal work like drafting agreements or reviewing the ones submitted by your prospective contractor. You can expect to pay an attorney in Alaska between $40 to $1,500 per hour, depending on the expertise and reputation of the attorney and the complexity of your legal work.
What Are Home Improvement
Scams in Alaska?
Home improvement scams in Alaska refer to antics used by unscrupulous contractors to defraud unsuspecting victims. Some of the deceptive actions carried out by these contractors include leaving the work undone after receiving payment, not completing the job, or deliberately doing sub-standard work that will require you to retain their services again soon. These scammers often offer services at an unreasonably low price and usually require the homeowner to make decisions on the spot.
To avoid being a victim of a home improvement scam in Alaska, you should take time to find a reliable contractor. It is not a good idea to hire contractors that come to your door unsolicited. Even if they seem honest and helpful, they are most likely unlicensed, and you would have difficulty finding them if anything goes wrong. Some other warning signs of a home improvement scam include the contractor requesting cash payments, demanding full payment upfront, or dismissing the need for a written contract. Make sure you request your prospective contractor’s license number and verify its veracity before signing an agreement. It is also smart to hire an attorney to thoroughly review the written contracts you enter with your contractor of interest. You should conclude all contract reviews within five days of your signing; otherwise, you might lose the right to cancel the contract.
You can report occurrences of home improvement scams to the Consumer Protection Unit of the Attorney General’s office by filling the Consumer Complaint Form and sending it to email@example.com. You can also submit the completed form by mail to
- Office of the Attorney General
- 1031 West 4th Avenue
- Suite 200
- Anchorage, AK 99501-5903
Submission can also be done in person in any of the following offices
- Alaska Department of Law - Civil Division, Anchorage Office
- 1031 West 4th Avenue
- Suite 200
- Anchorage, AK 99501-1994
- Phone: (907) 269-5100
- Alaska Department of Law - Civil Division, Juneau Office
- Dimond Courthouse
- 123 4th Street
- Suite 600
- Juneau AK 99801-0300
- Phone: (907) 465-3600
- Alaska Department of Law - Civil Division, Fairbanks Office
- 100 Cushman Street
- Suite 400
- Fairbanks, AK 99701-4679
- Phone: (907) 451-2811
What are Common Home Improvement Scams in Alaska?
Fraudulent contractors perpetuate home improvement scams in Alaska in a variety of ways. These antics are often aimed at elderly residents since they are assumed to be less likely to disclose the scams to the relevant authorities and they usually have excellent credit. One common tactic involves contractors doing free or low-cost initial inspections and finding a defect in their victims' homes that need immediate repair. Regardless of the approach employed by these dishonest contractors, they all have a set of attributes that identify them. In 2017, the Office of the Alaska Attorney General alerted homeowners to be on the lookout for contractors who solicit home improvement work door to door and claim to have leftover materials from a previous work that they did nearby. This advice followed a similar alert published in 2011 to warn homeowners about signs of home improvement scams which include contractors who:
- Solicit patronage door-to-door
- Demand that you pay for the whole job up-front
- Pressure you to decide on the spot
- Offer you lesser costs if you can refer other customers to them
- Suddenly claim to have materials left over from a previous job
- Accept only cash payments
- Ask you to get the required building permits
- Offer unusually lengthy guarantees
- Recommend that you borrow money from lenders that they know.
Note that Alaska has a five-day cancellation period when a contractor solicits services, and the agreement is signed at a place other than the contractor’s place of business. Therefore, if you doubt the contractor’s reliability, you can exercise your right to cancel any written contract you have entered into with the contractor within the five-day window. Further, although Alaska does not have a statute specifying the way down payments can be made to contractors, it is not a good idea to pay a contractor in full before your project is completed. You can make payments in installments at different stages of the work. Final payment should be contingent on satisfactory inspection of the project.
What are Disaster Scams in Alaska?
Fire, flood, earthquake, or other disasters can make homeowners vulnerable targets for fraudulent contractors in Alaska due to the need for urgent home repairs. Contractors that carry out these kinds of scams will usually lurk around disaster-affected homes to solicit home repair works at increased prices or without possessing the requisite license. Therefore, if your home requires repairs due to the effects of a disaster, you should take the following steps to minimize the risk of falling for a disaster scam in Alaska
- Avoid rushing into repairs, no matter how badly they are needed
- Be cautious about door-to-door offers of repair services and fliers or business cards that are left at your property.
- Get an estimate from more than one contractor. Make sure all the quotes include the same things and check references
- Be wary of contractors that insist on being paid before doing any work or ask for large upfront payments. Reputable contractors do not do this and you should always make final payments only after the work is completed and you are satisfied with it.
- Request a copy of the construction permits from your contractor. Before starting construction, contractors would almost certainly need to apply for and pay for building permits. Also, make sure to consult with your local authorities for any permit or inspection requirements.
- Avoid paying for home improvement services in cash
- Get proof that the person you are dealing with has a contractor license for the type of work that needs to be done. Always do this, regardless of the size of the job
- Get a written contract that details every aspect of the work plan.
You can report any suspected post-disaster scammers in Alaska by filing a consumer complaint to the Consumer Protection Unit of the state’s Attorney General’s Office.
What are Common Legal
Work Scams in Alaska?
Legal work scams in Alaska are deceptive practices carried out by an attorney or an individual posing as one to defraud people. Some legal work scams in Alaska are:
- Attorney Impersonation Scam: this occurs when people posing as lawyers advertise services they are not qualified to offer, then make way with a client’s money after convincing the client to pay upfront. To appear credible, such scammers will usually impersonate legitimate business and attorney names and may even clone a firm’s website
- Jury Duty Scam: perpetrators of jury duty scam claim to be court officials or law enforcement officers and wrongly inform their victims that a bench warrant was issued for their arrest for failure to report for jury duty. The scammer then manipulates the victim into providing certain personal information, including social security number, date of birth, and may even solicit credit card or bank account numbers claiming their credit bureau will use these to verify the victim's identity.
Notwithstanding the particular tactic employed by these con artists, you should be wary of some common signs of legal work scam in Alaska, which include:
- The individuals request payment quickly especially without letting you ask a question or get clarifications
- The individuals try to pressure you into hiring them immediately by claiming that your matter is an emergency
- The individuals call you out of the blue and claim to be attorneys, court officials, or law firm representatives
- The individuals advertise themselves as professional document preparers
Some other tips to avoid falling into a legal work scam include;
- Verify your prospective attorney’s details via the Alaska Bar Association’s Member Directories
- Avoid making payment for legal services in cash
- Always take your time to carefully consider your attorney options.
- Do due diligence and research on your prospective attorney
- Verify that any court-related emails you receive come from the relevant mail.
- Do not share personal information like your credit card numbers or Social Security Number with any unknown individual claiming to be a court official
- Demand copies of any paperwork that your attorney files in court on your behalf
- Make sure the fee agreement between you and your attorney is in writing.
How Long Does it Take to Get a License in
The processing times associated with getting contractor licenses in Alaska vary depending on the type of license applied for and the authority granting the license. Home improvement contractor licenses are typically issued at the state level by the Division of Corporations, Business, and Professional Licensing, but certain municipalities like Anchorage also require registration within their jurisdiction. For state-level licenses, applicants can typically expect a license to be issued within 15 business days of the application as long as the paperwork is filled correctly. On the other hand, municipal contractor licenses granted by Anchorage are usually processed within seven to ten days. In addition to this, contractors requiring residential endorsement must complete the Alaska Craftsman Home Program (ACHP) or its equivalent, or a post-secondary course in Arctic engineering or its equivalent, and also take the Residential Endorsement Examination. The learning program involves a 16-hour course of study, which the contractor must complete no longer than two years before applying for the license.
How to Maintain your License in Alaska
Contractors in Alaska are required to carry out some actions to maintain their license and prevent it from getting suspended. Although the details of these steps depend on the particular type of license, the following are basic requirements all contractor license holders are to fulfill to maintain their licenses:
- Ensure that they have valid bonds required for the license they possess. Alaska construction law requires general contractors to post a bond for $25,000, residential contractors for $20,000, and specialty contractors for $10,000. If a bonding company cancels its bond with a contractor, the Division of Corporations, Business, and Professional Licensing will revoke the contractor’s registration.
- Maintain workers' compensation insurance as well as public liability and property damage insurance coverage for their operations in the state. Contractors are to make sure that their insurance has not been canceled, reduced by judgment, or is no longer in effect for any reason.
- Update their records and notify the division of any changes in address or name.
Note that contractors with residential endorsement will need to complete 16 hours of continuing education every two years to maintain their license. In a similar arrangement, Alaska Bar Rule 65 requires attorneys in Alaska to fulfill the Mandatory Continuing Legal Education requirements (MCLE) by completing three hours of ethics courses each year.
How to Renew Contractor License in
Contractor licenses in Alaska require renewal after every two years. General contractor licenses expire on December 31st of even years, while mechanical and specialty contractor licenses expire on December 31st of odd years. Contractors can process their renewal either online or by mail. Contractors that wish to renew their licenses online can do so by creating or logging into an already active myAlaska account and following the instructions provided there. To renew contractor licenses mail, the contractor must complete the relevant application form and forward it, along with any applicable fees or required additional documents, to the Division of Corporations, Business, and Professional Licensing at:
- Construction Contractors Program
- P.O. Box 110806
- Juneau, AK 99811
- Phone: (907) 465-2550
The Division recommends that applicants utilize the online renewal feature over mail requests due to processing time. In most cases, the license will be renewed immediately if processed online, while mail requests might take four to six weeks for processing due to a heavy volume of renewal activities. All contractor license renewals in Alaska attract a fee of $250.
Finally, attorneys in Alaska are required to pay their dues and Lawyers’ Fund for Client Protection fees to keep their license valid for the year. Concerned persons can pay their dues online or submit checks for these fees payment in person or via mail to:
- Alaska Bar Association
- 840 K Street
- Suite 100
- P.O. Box 100279
- Anchorage, AK 99510-0279
- Phone: (907) 272-7469
Note that payments submitted via mail should include a postal marking indicating the place, date, and time that the check was delivered into the custody of a postal service.