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Arizona isn't doing enough to protect consumers
Saturday, 05 April 2003

Contractor watchdog faulted
The state agency charged with watching over construction in Arizona isn't doing enough to protect consumers, according to a report from the Auditor General's Office.The audit said the agency needs to fix a $5.5 million deficit in the recovery fund, which helps people who lose money to licensed contractors. A residential builder pays $300 initially to the fund and then $150 annually.

The Arizona Republic
Contractor watchdog faulted
Audit says consumers need more protection
 
Catherine Burrough
The Arizona Republic
Apr. 5, 2003
 
The state agency charged with watching over construction in Arizona isn't doing enough to protect consumers, according to a report from the Auditor General's Office.

The Arizona Registrar of Contractors needs to better identify and discipline "problem contractors" and provide more complaint information, the recent state audit says.

Michael Goldwater, who since 1991 had been director of the agency that licenses contractors, was replaced in February.

"We are already implementing changes," said Israel Torres, its new director. "I am very sensitive to any contractor playing the system."

The audit also said that "the agency's complaint process may result in some valid complaints being closed."

Anyone paying for any type of construction - from a new home to a new paint job - can file a complaint up to two years after the work is done. After inspecting a project, the registrar can require a builder to make fixes or find the complaint not valid. If an ordered correction isn't made, the state can suspend or pull a license.

But The Arizona Republic found after a 2001 analysis that the registrar's procedures make it tough to get an accurate count of complaints against contractors. If the problems are fixed before the registrar goes out for an inspection, those complaints are labeled "unconfirmed" and don't show up.

And if the agency does a courtesy inspection with both the homeowner and builder and problems are resolved, that complaint isn't recorded. The auditor found the agency didn't have statutory authority to make such courtesy inspections.

The audit said the agency needs to fix a $5.5 million deficit in the recovery fund, which helps people who lose money to licensed contractors. A residential builder pays $300 initially to the fund and then $150 annually.
 
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