Andy Andree, a local builder and a member of the Jasper County Home Builder's Association, spoke with commissioners about the importance of the county establishing licensing for building contractors, Monday.
At the regular commissioner meeting Andree requested the licensing for a couple reasons, including the economy and lawsuits he has seen.
"We are asking that builders show insurance, workers' compensation papers and that sort of thing," Andree said. "By doing that it makes every contractor a viable business, instead of a fly by night whatever."
Andree said with locals being laid off, they are looking for work and starting their own construction businesses. This is causing building code problems and warrantee issues.
"As most of you know anyone with a pick-up truck and wheelbarrow is considered a builder contractor in Jasper County," Andree said. "It's hard to be a liable business and compete with someone whose overhead costs is much cheaper than ours. We want to be on the same playing field."
Andree, who has been a builder for more than 30 years, said members of the building association are continuing to better their businesses by educating their employees and becoming master builders in some cases.
The Jasper County Home Builder's Association is an affiliate with the Indiana Builder's Association and the National Association of Home Builders. The mission of the association is to offer high quality and professionalism to the building industry.
Andree said his concern is the quality of work the non-licensed contractors are offering the communities.
"What will the job look like when it's done," Andree said. "Most of the people do not know what the warrantees are or the state codes — if they did they probably won't start in the first place."
Another problem the association is seeing is what homeowners are calling "the worst nightmare of their life," said Andree. Andree recently completed a job where the homeowners tried to sue the original builders in a civil suit. He said they are now trying to get the builder for fraud.
"You have to be real careful of what you are stepping into," Andree said. "Unless you are governed by someone — it has become a reality."
Andree said there needs to be some recording of when a builder has a strike against them, especially with all the outside companies coming into the area. He said he doesn't necessarily want someone looking over his shoulder but it appears to be needed.
"There needs to be some way to get a contractor to clean up his act," Andree said. "We want people to be a little more accountable."
The licensing would apply to contractors and subcontractors if the county is interested. Applications and forms would have to be completed before licensing is approved.
Andree said Keener Township does require contractors to have insurance that is a good start.
The commissioners were receptive to the request and said they would consider the request and review it with the plan commission.