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Organization of Legitimate Residential Contractors; A Level Playing Field

Posted by Mark Paskell on Mon, Jan 17, 2011 @ 09:36 PM

Organization for Legitimate Residential Contractors To Create A Level Playing Field

The time has arrived for the genesis and creation of a movement and sizable organization to protect the rights of legal, tax paying, licensed and insured residential contractors. This movement will augment other industry efforts and pick up where others are stymied by the status quo, political correctness, voluntarism, lack of critical mass and resources. 

For several years associations like NARI and NAHB have tried to promote ways to further our industry and protect the rights of contractors. Their work has not gone unnoticed and will continue. I am and will continue to be, an active supporting member of NARI believing their intentions and programs are worthwhile. (See related post from Shawn McCadden on trade associations affecting RRP)

NAHB has also actively pursued industry interests achieving some noteworthy accomplishments. However the combined efforts of both are not enough to do what our industry truly needs.

Namely, create a level playing field for residential contractors in every state, city, town, village, hamlet and borough.

I am very concerned for the small contractor business owner who is playing by the rules and has to compete in a market that allows rampant illegal underground contracting activity. While we wait for resolutions from the well intended trade organizations and promised regulatory enforcement from government, thousands are facing the loss of their livelihood. Increased regulation, which in some cases is needed, is either unevenly enforced or not enforced at all. Confusing unfunded mandates, lacking enforcement funding, are causing the underground contracting industry to explode. A financially strapped and bruised consumer is eager to hire the price offered by the underground contractor. Homeowners have nothing to fear if they hire the illegal contractor. Maybe it's time that they have skin in the game. Why not penalize them for knowingly hiring illegal contractors?  

In September, Shawn McCadden gave the keynote address at the Remodeling Show. In his speech he shared how the National Association of Realtors has significant lobbying clout due to a paying membership of over 1,200,000 million people. Like the saying goes when EF Hutton speaks, people listen. Shawn suggested it is time for leaders in our industry to step up to the plate and remodel our own house before government does it for us. (Remember the EPA RRP Lead Rule???)

Well who is listening to us?

Ask the small legal contractor business owner across America and he will tell you NOBODY! And he means nobody. The results back him up. Our industry has been decimated by the real estate and loan debacle and ensuing economic downturn. With thousands of foreclosures on the horizon the Federal Reserve says we will not get back to even employment for at least 4 more years. Current unemployment for construction is over 20%. Housing will not lead this recovery. Scarce residential construction jobs will be under pressure for this period. Our organization needs to make sure that  residential jobs go to legal residential contractors and not the illegal ones. Homeowners need to be dissuaded from hiring contractors who don't play by the rules. Building permits should require RRP certification for work on pre 1978 homes.   

This industry needs leadership that delivers results and can do without politically correct lip service. The trade organizations efforts have produced marginal results at best. Just look at the recent EPA RRP Lead Law and ask what have the leaders of the industry really done to protect the rights of legal contractors? The lack of RRP enforcement clearly shows that the EPA has not listened to our concerns. The lack of enforcement has pitted contractors who are legal against those who are not. We have been told that the EPA would like legal contractors to snitch on those who are not. Is that really healthy? The efforts of trade organizations are appreciated however they have been ineffective. I submit to you that the groups are easily dismissed due to small numbers. It is time to augment their efforts, build upon them taking the baton from this leg of the race to the finish line. The finish line is the elusive level playing field. The new organization I speak of needs to be in the trenches with government before legislation is passed, not after. 

What's next?

Create and build an organization with sufficient critical mass that when we speak political leaders listen to us and act on our behalf. The bold leadership needed must be willing to expose all groups that are in the underground contracting community. This includes fly by night Johny hook and ladder, moonlighting fireman, teachers, policeman, municipal workers, unemployed workers and illegal aliens.

The leadership must be willing to self police the industry and condemn any unprofessional contractor behavior. We must find ways to convince government to enforce rules on the books and punish those who choose the illegal path. We must find ways to involve the local building officials and get them to join us. Who knows the people in town better than the local building inspector? We must find ways to encourage illegal contractors to choose the road to legitimacy or force them out. We must educate homeowners that hiring illegal companies will expose them to huge financial risks. Also they can be given fines from the building inspector who has permission to fine them for allowing illegal work on their home. 

The new organization needs to convince government to act on the premise that a level playing field will lead to;

  • more employees on the books
  • lower health care costs 
  • more employment tax revenues
  • unemployment tax revenues
  • safer jobs
  • more workers covered by workmen's compensation
  • fair competition for legal companies
  • lower worker's compensation costs
  • consumer protections

If you got the impression that I am charged you would be spot on. The genesis of the resolve boiling within me is caused by the  governments' abdication of its' responsibility to enforce the laws they force upon us. Legal contractors are American citizens who deserve fair and equitable treatment from government.

Organization to benefit small and large contractors

This organization needs to benefit the small contractor and the large one. I am a voice for many small contractors and I am committed to pushing this movement as high as it can go. I am sick and tired of seeing some really good guys face the possibility of losing their livelihood as they do the right thing only to see non compliant contractors steal work from consumers in their marketplace. 

Are you ready to roll up your sleeves?

If this this post resonates with you I ask for your help to begin the formation of new movement leading to a coalition of legal residential contracting companies throughout America. We will need significant numbers. Let's get started!

mark the coach  


Tags: legitimate contractors, trade organizations. epa rrp