Getting paid is often a battle in the construction industry. There are times when a project ends up a confusing, tangled web of contractors hiring a range of sub-contractors. Unexpected problems can arise if a particular company in that web isn’t appropriately licensed for contracting in Louisiana. An attorney may be able to help you recover the payment you are due, however.
Contractor Licensing Requirements in New Orleans
Whether a company intentionally misrepresents itself or just simply fails to renew a license on time, performing contractor work without the appropriate licensing can come with serious consequences. Under Louisiana law, the state licensing board can charge anyone performing contracting work without a proper license up to 10% of the contract amount and various attorney’s fees.
An unlicensed contractor can become a much worse problem for everyone on the project if someone doesn’t get paid and attempts to file a lien to force payment. In order to enforce a construction lien, there must be a valid contract.
If an entity enters into a construction contract without the appropriate license, however, the entire contract may be declared an “absolute nullity,” meaning it violates a rule of public order. That can lead to havoc for everyone involved in the project if there are lien claims or lawsuits over nonpayment.
Licensing through a state-run board is required for each individual type of sub-contractor. It’s crucial to ensure everyone along the chain is actually up to date with their licensing. In addition to a wide range of subclassifications and specialty roles, the major types of licensing classifications through the state board covers:
- Construction involving hazardous materials
- Electrical work
- General building construction
- Highways, streets, and bridges
- Heavy construction
- Mechanical work
- Municipal and public construction projects
- Residential work
Lack of Licensing Can Void Contracts and Interfere With Your Ability to Recover Payment
As you might expect with anything involving the law, there are long strings of exemptions and qualifications that can complicate the licensing process and lead to confusion when a new project starts.
In some cases, with projects under specific dollar thresholds, a license isn’t technically required. For instance, someone who is licensed with the state Plumbing Board and performing work under a specific dollar amount doesn’t specifically need to also have a license through the Louisiana State Licensing Board for Contractors.
That’s one important reason to work with an attorney before any project starts. Knowing what sort of projects require a licensed contractor and going over all contractual documents is crucial to protecting your legal rights.
Your best shot at getting paid is to act ahead of time and prevent problems before they occur. With a lawyer’s help, you can ensure all your contracts are in order and will stand up to scrutiny in court if you end up needing to file a lien over payment issues.
In the event a lack of proper licensing impacts your ability to file a lien, one of the only options remaining is to attempt to recoup costs via an unjust enrichment claim. This is a different tactic than a lien, but it has the same end goal of recovering owed costs after providing equipment or labor to a project. Your enrichment claim may still be denied or overturned in some cases if a contractor wasn’t licensed however, because the original contract may end up considered completely null and void.
A skilled construction attorney can help by gathering the evidence necessary to argue your case in court while seeking the payment you deserve for your work.
Don’t Lose Out on the Pay You Deserve—Talk to an Experienced Louisiana Construction Contract Attorney Today
If you’ve done the work or supplied the materials, you should receive the agreed-upon payment. That’s not always easy in the construction industry, but the good news is that the Scott Vicknair law firm is here to help. Is a licensing issue causing headaches for your project? Use our online contact form or call our New Orleans office directly at 504-500-1111 to schedule a consultation.