Frequently Asked Questions
WHAT IS THE CONTRACTORS' REGISTRATION LAW?
Chapter 5-65 of the R.I. General Laws.
WHAT DOES THE CONTRACTORS' REGISTRATION LAW REQUIRE?
Every contractor, remodeler, and most subcontractors who are in the business of building or repairing residential or commercial structures, must register with the Contractors' Registration and Licensing Board. Anyone who demolishes or moves a residential/ commercial structure must also register.
IS REGISTRATION THE SAME AS LICENSING?
No, contractors working in RI are not licensed they are registered. The process of licensing usually involves pre-qualification and testing.
WHAT DOES REGISTRATION INVOLVE?
To register, a contractor, remodeler, or subcontractor must file certain information with the Contractors' Registration and Licensing Board. Information that must be provided: driver's license or picture ID, workers' compensation account number, Contractors' Registration application and Statement. If you are an out-of-state contractor, an agent of service or Attorney in Rhode Island is required.
WHAT IF MY BUSINESS IS SET UP AS A LLC OR A CORPORATION?
If the contractor is an LLC or Corporation, the entity must be registered with the Rhode Island Secretary of State prior to registering with CRLB.
WHAT IF I HAVE NO EMPLOYEES?
Only contractors who have employees must provide proof of worker's compensation if you have one or more employees, unless you can provide a waiver form, filed with the DLT.
DOES THE LAW SAY ANYTHING ABOUT INSURANCE?
Yes, law requires that every registered Contractor show a minimum $500,000 of public liability & property damage insurance; with the CRLB listed as the certificate holder.
WHERE DO I REGISTER?
Registration can be submitted in person or by mail to the Contractors' Registration and Licensing Board located at 560 Jefferson Blvd, Suite 200, Warwick, RI 02886. The telephone number is (401) 921-1590.
WHO IS ON THE CONTRACTORS' BOARD?
Seventeen members who have been appointed by the Governor. Please visit our website, www.crb.ri.gov, under "About the Board" for more details.
IS THERE A REGISTRATION FEE?
The registration fee is $200.00 for a two-year period.
DO I REGISTER ONLY ONCE?
You must renew your registration every two years and pay the $200.00 fee or $400.00 for commercial roofing registration. A late fee of $35.00 will be imposed after expiration.
WILL I RECEIVE A REGISTRATION CERTIFICATE?
Yes, the Contractors' Registration and Licensing Board will issue a certificate of registration.
WHAT HAPPENS IF I DON'T REGISTER?
Contractors, remodelers, and subcontractors who do not have a valid registration will not be able to bid on work or obtain a building permit in any of Rhode Island's 39 cities or towns. Before obtaining a building permit, contractors and remodelers will be required to submit their registration number which will be noted on the permit. Furthermore, unregistered contractors are subject to fines.
DO SUBCONTRACTORS HAVE TO REGISTER?
Most subcontractors must register the same as contractors and remodelers. RIGL5-65 specifically says that carpenters, framers, siding installers, foundation installers, drywall installers, plasterers, insulation installers, ceramic tile installers, floor covering installers, swimming pool installers, masons, and general masonry erectors must register.
WHAT WILL HAPPEN IF A SUBCONTRACTOR DOES NOT REGISTER?
Only subcontractors who have valid registration certificates can be hired by contractors and remodelers. In addition, contractors and remodelers must maintain lists of subcontractors who work for them. A fine up to $5,000.00 may be imposed on a non-registered subcontractor, as well as the contractor who hired them.
DO PLUMBERS AND ELECTRICIANS HAVE TO REGISTER?
No. Plumbers and electricians are licensed by the Rhode Island Department of Labor & Training. They do not have to register with the Contractors' Registration and Licensing Board unless they work outside of the purview of their license.
WHAT ABOUT SUPPLIERS?
No. Persons or businesses who furnish materials, supplies, equipment, etc. and who do not fabricate these supplies or materials in the work of a contractor do not have to register. However, if registered they can use the boards dispute resolution process.
WHAT ABOUT DEVELOPERS?
Yes. If someone arranges to have a structure built, per definition, they are a contractor, and must be registered.
See Section of Law on Exemptions: 5-65-2.
DOES A COMMERCIAL CONTRACTOR HAVE TO REGISTER?
Yes. The law applies to all contractors, and remodelers-both residential and commercial.
IF I AM A CONTRACTOR IN ANY OTHER STATE. DO I HAVE TO REGISTER IN RHODE ISLAND?
Yes. If you build, remodel, or work as a contractor or subcontractor in Rhode Island, you must register.
DOES THE CONTRACTORS' BOARD HAVE ANY DISCIPLINARY POWERS?
The Board can refuse to issue or can suspend or revoke the registration of the contractor, remodeler, or subcontractor; additionally, it can impose fines. See RIGL 5-65-10 for types of disciplinary action the Board can take.
WHAT ARE THE GROUNDS FOR SUSPENSION OR REVOCATION OF A CONTRACTOR'S REGISTRATION?
A contractor's registration can be suspended or revoked if one engages in dishonest or fraudulent conduct with the public or if knowingly and consistently builds structures in violation of state building codes. Failure to maintain required insurances can result in suspension or revocation of registration.
IS THERE A PENALTY FOR OPERATING WITHOUT A REGISTRATION AND FAILURE TO COMPLY WITH A FINAL ORDER OF THE BOARD?
Yes. Any person who violates a final order of the Board, or fails to register as a contractor as stipulated, and upon proper written notification, shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor, and shall, on conviction thereof, be imprisoned for a term not exceeding one (1) year, or fined not more than five thousand dollars ($5,000) for 1st offense, and ($10,000.00) for subsequent offenses. If three (3) or more final orders are issued in a 24-month period, a contractor may be prosecuted as a felon.
WHAT KIND OF CLAIMS FROM THE PUBLIC, OR FROM THE CONSUMERS WILL BE HEARD BY THE CONTRACTORS' BOARD?
The Board will hear claims of negligent work, improper work, contract disputes, and breach of contract regarding residential structures located in Rhode Island.
DOES THE LAW PROVIDE FOR A VICTIM FUND?
No. There is no fund to compensate a consumer who has been defrauded by a contractor, remodeler, or subcontractor however, the attorney general criminally pursues compliance of final orders in district court.
IF THE CONTRACTORS' REGISTRATION and LICENSING BOARD RULES IN FAVOR OF A CONSUMER AGAINST A CONTRACTOR, HOW DOES THE CONSUMER GET HIS OR HER MONEY?
Payment is made directly to the consumer. However, if a contractor does not pay, when properly served, the matter will be criminally prosecuted.
ARE THERE ANY TIME LIMITS ON CONSUMER CLAIMS?
Yes. The owner of a new structure must file a claim with the Board no later than one (1) year after the date of the structure completion. A claim involving an existing structure must be filed no later than one (1) year after the remodeling work was substantially completed. That time frame may be extended if the contractor was notified in writing during the first year, of the problem.
CAN A CONTRACTOR FILE A CLAIM AGAINST A SUBCONTRACTOR?
IS THERE AN APPEAL PROCESS AFTER THE ADMINISTRATIVE HEARING?
Yes. A contractor can file a claim against a subcontractor; however, such a claim must be filed no later than one (1) year after the subcontractor has ceased to work on the structure, and the subcontractor must be registered.
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE OTHER POWERS OF THE CONTRACTORS' BOARD?
The Board has the power to promulgate rules and regulations. It also has subpoena power and can investigate the activities of anyone who is engaged in the building and construction industry or arranging to construct. The Board can conduct a local investigation with the assistance of the local building inspector.
WHO IS CONSIDERED AN EMPLOYEE?
An employee is any person permitted to work by an employer who receives wages, and has taxes withheld. If a 1099 is filed, one is considered a subcontractor. See Section of Law on Definitions: (5-65-1-2(i))
ARE THERE ANY EXCEPTIONS TO THE LAW?
Someone who builds or repairs residential structures that he owns and occupies does not have to register. However, any owner who builds a house with the intent of selling it when it is completed or doesn’t own it for at least one year must be registered. Employees of a contractor or of a remodeler and subcontractor do not have to register.
IS THERE A COST TO FILE A CLAIM?
Yes. A processing fee of $25.00 is charged at the time a statement of claim is filed, with the Board Payment should be in the form of a check or money order and is not refundable if the claim is processed; however, if the claim goes to a hearing the hearing officer may order fee reimbursement.
Yes. After a proposed order is issued, if the parties attend a hearing and written exceptions are received within 20 days, with the appropriate fee of $20.00, the Board will decide and issue a final order.