Indiana Contractor License Search

What You Should Know about Hiring a Contractor in Indiana

Over 139,000 licensed contractors in Indiana who are ready for hire immediately . However, before you hire anyone claiming to be a contractor in the state, you should verify their license to ensure you are not dealing with a fraudulent person. Hiring a licensed contractor comes with the guarantee that your project will be completed in compliance with local codes and industry standards. Also, working with a licensed contractor save you from any financial liability. A licensed contractor must hold bonds and insurance plans covering damages, work-related injuries, and uncompleted work.

Note that Indiana contractors are primarily regulated at the city and county levels. Besides verifying a contractor's license, you should consider the following issues when hiring a contractor in Indiana:

Who Is a Contractor in Indiana?

Contractors are individuals or businesses who offer services based on written or oral agreements in exchange for compensation. These agreements (or contracts) can be short-term or long-term; contractors can work for multiple people or companies simultaneously.

Contractor licensing in Indiana is usually handled at the discretion of local municipalities. For example, contractors offering building and construction services in Indianapolis and Marion County (excluding the cities of Lawrence, Beech Grove, Speedway, and Southport) must either be licensed or registered by the Indianapolis Department of Business and Neighborhood Services. This includes general contractors, electricians, and HVAC contractors. Likewise, the Allen County Building Department must license contractors wishing to operate in Fort Wayne (and other locations in Allen County). Note that plumbers across the state must obtain a state-issued license from the Indiana Professional Licensing Agency (PLA); they may also be required to register these licenses locally before operating in certain jurisdictions.

Indiana contractors can be grouped into two main categories:

  • General Contractors: general contractors oversee and manage construction or home improvement projects on behalf of the project owner. Their responsibilities typically include pulling permits, hiring subcontractors, supervising laborers, and ensuring the timely and satisfactory completion of all aspects of the work. They may also perform actual construction work. Indiana general contractors are often sub-categorized into three groups based on their areas of specialization:
    • Residential Contractors: these contractors focus on projects involving single-family homes, multi-family buildings, apartments, condominiums, and other residential structures
    • Commercial Contractors: commercial contractors focus on projects involving commercial properties, such as office buildings, shopping malls, hotels, and other non-residential structures
    • Industrial Contractors: industrial contractors focus on large-scale construction projects for industrial facilities, including factories, power plants, refineries, and other industrial structures
  • Specialty Contractors: specialty contractors typically specialize in a specific building and construction-related trade or craft, like electrical work, plumbing, HVACR system installations, carpentry, roofing, masonry, painting, and other specialized areas. They may work directly with clients for relatively small projects or be hired as subcontractors by a general contractor to handle specific tasks within a large project.

How to Search for a Contractor's License in Indiana

Except for plumbers, who are licensed by the Indiana Professional Licensing Agency (PLA), contractor licenses across Indiana are issued by local municipalities. The Uhire Professional License Search tool offers a consolidated platform that you can use to search for and verify whether the relevant authorities have appropriately licensed your prospective Indiana contractors. Alternatively, you can contact your local building department to confirm your contractor's license status. State-issued plumbing licenses can equally be verified using the PLA's Search & Verify platform.

Penalty for Hiring a Contractor Without a License in Indiana

Hiring unlicensed contractors (or those who have yet to register with local regulatory authorities, where applicable) can pose significant risks to your well-being, safety, and finances. Here are some potential consequences:

  • Financial and Legal Liabilities: Unlicensed contractors often lack insurance coverage, making you responsible for any accidents, injuries, or property damage during your project.
  • Subpar and Unsafe Work: Specialty contractors (particularly electricians, plumbers, and HVAC contractors) must take tests to demonstrate their knowledge, skill, and competence. Hiring an unlicensed contractor risks engaging an unskilled and inexperienced individual, leading to subpar quality and potential safety hazards.
  • Code Violation and Sanctions: Contractors who haven't complied with relevant licensing requirements may be unable to obtain necessary permits. Proceeding with projects without the required permits can result in fines, administrative sanctions imposed by local authorities, and even a reduction in your property's value.

It should be pointed out that unlicensed contracting is considered unlawful in many Indiana municipalities and is punishable by locally imposed sanctions. For example, unlicensed contractors in Indianapolis can be fined up to $250 for first offenses and up to $1,000 for subsequent violations committed within 12 months.

How Much Does a Contractor Charge in Indiana?

Specialty contractors in Indiana typically charge hourly rates of about $45 - $90 on average. However, factors like the nature and scope of the work, the labor intensity, and the contractor's expertise determine the overall cost of hiring these contractors. The table below provides average hourly rates for various specialist contractors in Indiana; however, you should keep in mind that these costs may change depending on your location and the contractor's local reputation:

$60 - $105
$70 - $105
HVACR Technicians
$60 - $100
$50 - $75
$40 - $60
$50 - $100
Flooring Contractors
$40 - $85
$45 - $85
$50 - $100
$70 - $190
Interior Designers
$60 - $150
Excavation Contractors
$70 - $150
Concrete Contractors
$45 - $85
$40 - $80
Appliance Repair Technicians
$45 - $80
$50 - $95
Cleaning Services
$40 - $90
$50 - $150

Most construction and home remodeling projects require multiple specialty contractors, laborers, and materials suppliers. You can save yourself the stress of coordinating and supervising all these individuals by hiring a general contractor to oversee and manage the project. General contractors in Indiana typically charge a percentage of the project's total cost, ranging from 10 to 20 percent; however, the actual cost of hiring these contractors is usually determined via one of the following pricing models:

  • Lump Sum Pricing: Under this model, the contractor provides a fixed price for the agreed-upon services (cost estimates are usually marked up to accommodate unforeseen incidents). This pricing approach suits projects with a clear scope and well-defined timelines.
  • Cost Plus Pricing: In this model, the contractor bills for the work as it progresses and charges a predetermined amount for their services. This model is preferable for projects with an unclear scope or timeline. However, it is advisable to establish a maximum price cap to ensure the overall costs stay within your budget.

On average, construction and home remodeling projects in Indiana typically cost about $95 - $150 per square foot. Note that actual costs are determined by factors like

  • Your location,
  • Site conditions,
  • The scope of work,
  • Involved contractors' experience and expertise,
  • Contractor fees,
  • Costs of required permits, necessary materials, and other related expenses,
  • The urgency of the project.

Tips for Hiring a Contractor in Indiana

Given the total costs typically associated with construction and home remodeling, hiring the right contractors is crucial in ensuring your projects are satisfactorily executed. As such, whether you are planning to do new construction, renovate an existing building, or undertake relatively small home repairs and improvements, your first action will be determining the types of contractors needed for the job. Once you've done this, the tips below can help you select the right ones for the job:

  • Get and compare cost estimates from several contractors
  • Ask prospective contractors for references and check them
  • Confirm the contractors' license status. You should also confirm their insurance and bond coverage
  • Ensure that you have a written contract before any work starts. Note that this is required by state law for home improvement projects worth $150 or more
  • Contact your local building department to find out the necessary permit requirements for your project and make sure that the contractor pulls these permits
  • Carefully review your contract or any other documents you sign before doing so.
  • Do not make down payments that exceed one-third of the project's total cost. Avoid paying with cash.
  • Keep all paperwork related to the project. These include contracts, invoices, receipts, change orders, and warranties.

Is Your Contractor Insured and Bonded as Required by Indiana Statutes?

Except for workers' compensation insurance (which is mandatory for businesses with employees), insurance and bond requirements for contractors in Indiana are typically determined by local municipalities; as such, they vary by location and contractor. For instance, Indianapolis contractors must carry general liability insurance of at least $500,000 per occurrence for bodily injury and $100,000 per occurrence for property damage. These contractors must also post and maintain a $10,000 surety bond during the validity period of the respective licenses. On the other hand, Fort Wayne does not have any mandatory insurance or bond requirements for contractors operating within its jurisdiction.

Remember that even though insurance and bonding provide similar protection, they serve different purposes. Bonds protect you from losses if the contractor fails to complete the job as agreed. At the same time, insurance covers both you and the contractor, ensuring you won't have to bear out-of-pocket expenses for injuries, property damage, and other adverse work-related situations. Failing to confirm whether your intended contractors are adequately insured and bonded exposes you to avoid liabilities in the event of unexpected incidents like bodily injuries or property damage during or as a result of your project.

Therefore, constantly request proof of insurance and bond coverage before committing to contractors in Indiana. We also recommend contacting the contractor's insurance and bond provider to verify if their (the contractor's) coverage limits are sufficient for the scope of your project. You can also contact your local building department for additional information on the mandatory insurance and bonding requirements for contractors in your municipality.

Top Home Improvement Scams in Indiana

In 2022, the Indiana Attorney General's Office received over 20,000 calls and complaints concerning unscrupulous individuals and businesses trying to or scamming unsuspecting Indianans. Given the prevalence of these scams, it is important to look out for red flags when negotiating your construction or home improvement projects with contractors to avoid falling victim to dishonest individual. Warning signs that you may be dealing with a fraudulent contractor include:

  • The contractor shows up at your home uninvited.
  • The contractor uses high-pressure sales or scare tactics to get you to sign up for their services
  • The contractor offers discounts that are contingent on them doing the work immediately
  • The contractor is hesitant to provide references, written contracts, or proof of licensing
  • The contractor requests full payment upfront or a sizeable down payment in cash

You can protect yourself from home improvement scams in Indiana by taking the following precautions:

  • Never hire contractors that show up to your home uninvited.
  • Always compare quotes from several contractors before making your hiring selection.
  • Always opt for local, reputable contractors.
  • Make sure that any contractors you wish to hire are appropriately licensed. You should also contact your local building department to determine applicable regulatory requirements for your project.
  • Be wary of contractors who ask you to pull permits yourself.
  • Insist on getting a well-detailed contract before any work starts. Review this contract before signing.
  • Never pay the total cost of the project upfront. If you have to make a down payment, limit this to 10 – 30 percent of the project's total cost, and do not pay in cash.

How to Report Fraudulent Indiana Contractors

If you encounter unscrupulous and fraudulent contractors in Indiana, you can report and seek resolution through various agencies. These include:

The Indiana Attorney General's Office

The Indiana Attorney General's Office protects residents of the state from deceptive and predatory business practices. To this end, you can report fraudulent contractors, home improvement scams, and other similar issues to this office's Consumer Protection Division online or by mailing a consumer complaint form to:

Office of the Indiana Attorney General
Consumer Protection Division
Government Center South
5th Floor
302 W. Washington Street
Indianapolis, IN 46204
Call (317) 232-6330 if you have questions regarding this consumer complaint submission process.

Small Claims Court

In situations where you are unsatisfied with the complaint resolution offered by the Indiana Attorney General's Office, you can seek further remedies by filing a small claims case against the contractor. Small Claims Courts provide a speedy, informal trial process that allows you to sue for up to $10,000 ($8,000 in Marion County) without an attorney. Note that there is a $35 fee for filing small claims cases. You may also have to pay a service charge and other additional costs (usually about $97, including the initial filing fee).

The Better Business Bureau (BBB)

You can contact your local Better Business Bureau chapter for assistance addressing issues with fraudulent contractors. Reporting the activities of these contractors to the BBB not only helps you seek redress but also alerts other consumers to their fraudulent practices, protecting them from potential scams.

Local Police Departments

Suppose a contractor threatens you or engages in theft or other criminal activities. In that case, it is important to report the incident to your local police department promptly. They can take appropriate action and investigate the matter to ensure your safety and hold the contractor accountable for their actions.