To the Editor:
The Caledonian-Record editorial on April 1 flatters me that H.157, Builder Registration, is all my idea. I did introduce the bill, but it proceeds from recommendations by the Office of Professional Regulation and the Attorney General’s Office.
OPR and AGO view this as a consumer protection issue. Contractor fraud happens. Nearly all builders are reliable and trustworthy. But some aren’t — recall the St. Johnsbury contractor who took deposits and disappeared from a trail of customers in 2019.
Senate legislation in 2017 led to OPR preparing a “Sunrise” report, released in Jan. 2018. The report recommended “lightest touch” regulation in the form of required registration with optional voluntary certifications. That was the basis of S.163 last biennium that passed the Senate and stalled in the House due to the pandemic.
H.157 is the language from S.163 with minor modifications.
My reason for sponsoring the bill is also consumer protection, but not only in the sense of lost deposits. From my experience in construction and energy efficiency programs, I have seen countless examples of work done incorrectly that led to problems — and health hazards — years later. Examples include ice dams, rotting roofs, peeling paint, mold, backdrafting flues, even carbon monoxide poisoning.
A registry provides the opportunity to push information to builders about codes and standards, safe working practices (such as during a pandemic), and incentives for trainings and certifications. This offers a pathway to improve the professionalism and knowledge base of our construction industry.
No one likes to be regulated. But construction today is not the construction of our grandparents’ time. The “slippery slope” scenarios presented by the Cal-Rec — that next will be compulsory licensing, bureaucratic exams of contractor competency, blocking home sales until expensive work is done — are not only groundless, they are weak arguments against basic protections for consumers and their most valuable financial asset: their home.
Those interested in more detail please see CampbellForVermont.com/other.
St. Johnsbury, Vt