Before Charles Ceccarelli hired a tile installer for his Carson City home, he checked his complaint history with the Nevada State Contractors' board.
Leah Sanders also checked out the company installing a hardwood floor in her northwest Reno home.
Neither contractor had a negative record.
Despite their diligence, the work done in their homes was shoddy and has to be replaced.
Both say the contractors' board was essential to them receiving justice. The seven-member board is a licensing agency for contractors. It also acts as a mediator between the businesses and disgruntled consumers. The agency documents and investigates complaints against contractors. The complaints are available to the public.
But the board may soon be extinct. The Senate Judiciary committee will discuss a bill today that proposes to abolish the board in favor of an authority with nine members. Proponents say this will make the disciplinary process smoother, others say it adds more levels of needless bureaucracy.
It's unclear how the disciplinary process will play out as the Legislature considers the board's fate. As it sits now, the board is composed of six contractors and a public member. It handles both licensing and regulation, using its own inspectors.
Senate Bill 553 proposes to transfer the duties to the Nevada Construction Authority, which would have two additional members, a residential construction engineer and a residential construction architect or building inspector. Construction defects and contractor licensing would be reviewed by two other appointed boards. It would hire independent inspectors.
Both Ceccarelli and Sanders say access to information is vital to those building their dream homes. Because of their complaints, others won't make the mistake with the same contractors, they said.
"It's absolutely vital that (consumers) are informed," said Sanders, administrative faculty at the University of Nevada, Reno. "I have friends who say they got a great deal, I ask if they're licensed, and they aren't sure. You have to have that protection."
The first night with her new floor, Sanders sat on it and cried. There were gaps between the boards, poor nailing and gouges. She was referred to the contractors' board by the Better Business Bureau.
"I was amazed at what the contractors' board could do," she said. "It does take a long time, but they are very thorough. They sent an inspector out, he said it was substandard and documented everything."
In Sanders' case, it felt good to have an advocate. She stopped most of the payments for her flooring before it was too late. The license for Floors to Go was revoked in November. Sanders is saving the $20,000-plus replacement project for next year.
"We feel that the public has a right to know if there are any complaints against a contractor," said Art Nadler, spokesman for Nevada State Contractors' Board, which has offices in Reno and Las Vegas. The board is funded by fees from contractors and from disciplinary actions.
Because of Ceccarelli's complaint, the Nevada State Contractors' Board revoked JB Tile & Construction's license for substandard workmanship.
The Ceccarelli family is still walking on loose tiles, two years after they paid about $15,000 for 1,300-square-feet of natural colored tile. His contractor used a cheap adhesive and also failed to glue the concrete board to the floor.
"It doesn't sound like a big problem, but you have to take it all up to fix it and you can't use the tile again," Ceccarelli said. "You have to start over again."
That'll cost $20,000. He expects to have costs reimbursed by the Residential Recovery Fund, which was established by the Legislature in 1999 for homeowners who are not able to recover any restitution from their licensed contractors.
Ceccarelli, a sales rep for Cashman Equipment, learned something important about contractors in this two-year dilemma. It took a long time - but he has no complaints, only advice for others.
"Find out how the job should be done correctly," he said. "Make sure that's what they bid and what they do."
Ceccarelli proudly displayed three new bids from contractors. All of them detail each step of the work.
• Contact reporter Becky Bosshart at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1212.