Carte Blanche Abuse and The Oregon Construction Contractors Board

Prior to July 1st, 2011, if you had a dispute with a construction contractor in Oregon, you could file a complaint with the Oregon Construction Contractors Board (OCCB). From there, an arbitration process would be initiated: if arbitration ruled against the contractor, the prevailing party would soon have a payout from the Contractor's bond in-hand.

After July 1st, 2011, the rules changed. Rather than increase license fees on contractors (which would have funded an annual ~$600,000 cost of arbitration hearings), lawmakers opted to strip arbitration decision authority from the CCB, and thereby defund arbitration staff within the Office of Administrative Hearings.

What Happens Now?

The OCCB will still accept and review all complaints filed after July 1, 2011, and make a determination whether the law allows them to process the complaint. If accepted, your complaint will require a $50 processing fee. From there, they may also assist in resolving the dispute through mediation.

If mediation fails, or the contractor decides to breach the mediation agreement, then the only recourse is for the homeowner to hire an attorney, and proceed with suing the contractor in court.

Abuse

How many homeowners have the resources to hire an attorney? Even if a homeowner were to prevail, there's appeals; a dishonest contractor could play out this game for years. Doesn't this essentially guarantee your average homeowner will run out of money, and walk away from the case?

Even after all this, did you know that payout from the contractor's bond does not cover attorney's fees?

How's that pocketbook feeling now?

Dishonest contractors now have the tools to play a game of odds; in-effect, having been handed a carte blanche invitation to abuse customers, with an exceedingly marginal risk of repercussions.

What a shame...

It Gets Worse

Anyone can lookup a contractor's previous complaints. Although such a function is minimally useful, largely due to how the CCB categorizes complaints, and communicates specifics.

For instance, here's a summary of one complaint which made it through the CCB's new (post-2011) process:

  • The contractor's work was so bad, nearly everything had to be touched by a new company.
  • In dollar-value alone, roughly half of the project had to be torn-off and completely redone.
  • Along the way, after just one short mediation meeting, the defective contractor agreed to a settlement. The contractor then proceeded to breach three of the settlement's four conditions.

What follows is what the CCB publishes about the complaint. Would you consider this report misleading?: