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The city has minimized the risk to Topekans building or remodeling homes of being preyed upon by fly-by-night or fraudulent contractors.

Since December 2004, the city of Topeka has required general contractors to have a minimum of $300,000 in liability insurance, a general contractor certification and workers compensation insurance, if they have employees.

“Before December of 2004, anyone walking through our door could call themselves a general contractor and not have to show proof of insurance or professional certification,” said Dave Lundry, field services manager of the Topeka Public Works Development Services Section.

Electrical, plumbing and mechanical contractors have been required for years to hold current trade certifications and be licensed by the city. General contractors are responsible for all other aspects of home building construction, such as concrete work and framing.
General contractors, as well as trade contractors, must receive permits from the city, which activates an inspection process.

“Hiring a licensed person ensures the consumer that the contractor has liability insurance, can pull permits and have inspections based on minimum national standards,” Lundry said. The permit process allows city inspectors to check and make sure building materials and processes meet those standards.

The Topeka City Council adopted the changes in an ordinance. Community groups, such as the Topeka Home Builders Association, supported the changes.

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