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Dispute Resolution Program: Residential Complaints

This information is for complaints involving residential or small commercial structures that are filed against a residential bond.


Pre-complaint

What does my pre-complaint notice need to say? Do you have a form I can use?

The notice must say you intend to file a CCB complaint. Here is a pre-complaint notice letter that you may use.


 

Complaint process

What is the complaint process?

We review your complaint to make sure it is in our jurisdiction and was filed properly. We let you know in writing whether we can process your complaint. If we can process a complaint, we may request a $50 processing fee. However, do not send fees with your complaint form. In most cases, we try to help the parties resolve the dispute through mediation, either by telephone or in person. If that doesn’t work, you may need to file in court or seek arbitration, depending on your contract. If so, we let you know about important deadlines.


How long does it take to process a complaint?

Once we receive a complaint, we may resolve it through mediation within several  months. If no settlement is reached, timelines depend on the court or arbitration process. Once you have a court judgment ordering the contractor to pay, final processing will take at least 60 days. It could take longer if other complaints have been filed.


Can I just get a judgment first and then file it with my complaint?

You can file a certified copy of your court judgment with your CCB complaint. Generally, however, the sooner you file your complaint the better. If you wait to file your CCB complaint until after you get your judgment, you may find that the contractor’s bond has already been used up by other complaints. If you file a CCB complaint before you file in court or get a judgment, you will go through our mediation process. That process gives you access to a neutral, third-party mediator. It may help you avoid the need to go to court, saving you time and money.


I have a valid complaint so why can’t I just apply to the CCB and get my money?

The laws that govern the CCB allow us to try to help the parties resolve the dispute.  If we can’t resolve the dispute, the court must award damages before the contractor’s bond may be held responsible.


Complaint filing deadlines

Why are the deadlines for filing complaints so strict?

The law sets out the time frames and doesn’t allow us discretion to make exceptions.

If we can’t process your complaint, you may want to contact an attorney for advice on other legal ways to deal with the problem.


The contractor kept saying he would fix the problem but did not. Why can’t I file a complaint past the one year?

The law sets out the time frames and doesn’t allow us discretion to make exceptions.


I did not find any problems with the work until after the time to file passed. Why can’t I file a complaint within one year of the date I found the problems?

The law sets out the time frames and doesn’t allow us discretion to make exceptions.


Why isn’t the time allowed to file a complaint longer?

We believe the Legislature limited the time allowed to file CCB complaints because the complaint process is tied to a surety bond, which the state requires of every licensed contractor. A surety bond without a fixed time limit or a time limit longer than one year would be more expensive.


Why do I have a one-year limit to file a complaint when I have a five-year

warranty?

Your warranty is part of your personal contract with the contractor. Not all terms of the contract are in the CCB’s jurisdiction. There is no provision in Oregon law to extend those limits because of your contract.


 

Investigations

Why does the CCB seek an on-site meeting when the parties reach a verbal settlement?

If you reach a verbal settlement with the contractor and it is breached, it is difficult to enforce that agreement. The details of the agreement can be vague, and your understanding may differ from the contractor’s understanding.  If our investigator visits the jobsite, he or she can discuss the agreement with you and the contractor and put it in writing.  You both will have a clear understanding of the agreement and what to do if it is breached. This written agreement is also evidence of the exact terms of the settlement if a court case is filed.


Can we schedule the on-site meeting around my schedule?

You can send us a list of times when you are unavailable; we will do our best to meet your needs.


Do I have to let the contractor come into my house when the CCB comes out for a meeting?

Yes. The law requires you to let the contractor inside when an on-site meeting is held.  The investigator will be present the entire time.  The only exception to this is if there is a legal order (like a restraining order) forbidding the contractor to be on the property.


Do I have to let the contractor’s subcontractors or employees come into my house? No. However, their attendance may help produce a settlement, especially if the subcontractor or employee performed the work in question. You must allow a contractor to bring an attorney to an on-site meeting.


Do I have to let the contractor try to fix the work before I can file a complaint?

You do not have to let the contractor correct the work before you file a complaint. However, if you let the contractor make repairs, you may not need to file a complaint.  If you choose to allow the contractor to make repairs, you should make sure the time period for filing a CCB complaint does not pass in case you are not satisfied with the work.


Can I go ahead and fix the problems before the on-site meeting?

You can but you will then lose the chance to have a neutral third party look at the job as it existed after the contractor worked on it. This may make it harder for you to prove what issues existed and who is responsible for them.


Do I need an attorney for the on-site meeting because the other party has one?

It is up to you whether you want to have an attorney. If the other party has an attorney, that attorney will not be excluded because you do not have an attorney present. If you decide at the meeting that you need an attorney, let the investigator know. The meeting will likely be postponed.


Who pays for any additional damage to my house while I’m waiting for the on-site visit?

The law requires you to take steps to lessen damage. This could be putting a tarp over a leaking roof or repairing a shorting electrical switch that could cause a fire. If damages occur between the time the contractor did the work and work gets repaired, the contractor may not be legally responsible for all damages. For example, if you do not take steps to stop a leaking roof, the contractor might not be responsible for any damages caused by the leak. You may want to talk with an attorney before proceeding with the work.


Are investigators trained to handle volatile situations?

All of our investigators are experienced negotiators. They know how to calm tempers. If necessary, they stop the meeting. Let us know if you anticipate a problem.


Why can’t I speak to the investigator who came to my house?

Once the investigator submits a settlement agreement or issues a report, the dispute analyst handles all further processing of the complaint and we’ll be happy to connect you to this person.


 

Industry Standards

What is a construction industry standard?

An industry standard is the standard care of the industry for a specific construction job.  Our investigators are experienced at observing work and determining whether it meets industry standards. If the agency holds an on-site meeting and the dispute cannot be resolved, our investigator reviews the work to determine if it meets industry standards.  Our reports state report whether the work meets industry standards, what standards were used and the source of the standard. 


What publications detail industry standards?

The CCB investigators use multiple publications but key documents include:

·          The NASCLA Residential Construction Standards adopted by NASCLA March, 2009

·          The National Association of Home Builders of the United States Residential Construction Performance Guidelines (Third Edition)

·          The Residential and Light Commercial Construction Standards (R.S. Means Co, Inc, 2002)

When reviewing a home inspection complaint, investigators reference OAR Chapter 812, Division 8.  They occasionally refer to manufacturer’s specifications for installation or warranty.  If they need information that they are not able to locate in a publication or that they have not observed in the past, they may find it on the Internet. If this is the case they will cite where they got the information.



Miscellaneous

I am a lumber yard. Why do I have to give an address where the lumber was installed to file a complaint against a contractor?

Oregon law requires an address where a product was installed to access a bond. If you do not know where material is installed, there is no way to determine if the complaint was filed correctly or whether a commercial or residential bond is responsible. If you cannot provide an address where a product was installed, that does not prevent other efforts to collect that unpaid bill.


The contractor is calling and harassing me. What can I do?

Call an attorney or your local law enforcement agency.