HB 1752

This analysis was prepared by non-partisan legislative staff for the use of legislative members in their deliberations. This analysis is not a part of the legislation nor does it constitute a statement of legislative intent.

As Reported by House Committee On:

Labor & Workplace Standards

Title: An act relating to construction contractors but only with respect to providing financial recourse to harmed consumers not to include a warranty and creating a work group.

Brief Description: Increasing contractor bonding requirements.

Sponsors: Representatives Orwall, Sells and Kilduff; by request of Department of Labor & Industries.

Brief History:

Committee Activity:

Labor & Workplace Standards: 2/7/19, 2/14/19 [DP].

Brief Summary of Bill

  • Allows the Director of the Department of Labor and Industries (Department) to increase a contractor's bond amount by up to three times the normal amount if the applicant has had in the past five years one, rather than three judgments involving a single-family dwelling.

  • Requires the Department to convene a work group to consider additional consumer safeguards including bond amounts, additional criteria for contractors, changes to options for consumer recovery, and other matters.


Majority Report: Do pass. Signed by 4 members: Representatives Sells, Chair; Chapman, Vice Chair; Gregerson and Ormsby.

Minority Report: Do not pass. Signed by 3 members: Representatives Mosbrucker, Ranking Minority Member; Chandler, Assistant Ranking Minority Member; Hoff.

Staff: Joan Elgee (786-7106).


General and specialty contractors must register with the Department of Labor and Industries (Department). A general contractor works in more than one building trade or craft upon a single job or project or under a single building permit. A specialty contractor works in one trade or craft. To register as a general or specialty contractor, an applicant must file a bond and proof of insurance and pay a fee with the submission of the application.

The bond amount is $12,000 for a general contractor and $6,000 for a specialty contractor. The bond is conditioned upon the contractor paying: persons performing labor for the contractor, persons furnishing material or renting or supplying equipment to the contractor, amounts adjudged against the contractor for breach of contract, and taxes due to the state. A contractor may file an assigned savings account in lieu of a bond.

A person with a claim against a contractor may bring a lawsuit against the contractor and the bond in superior court. The surety must be named as a party and service of process is by serving the Department. If claims exceed the amount of the bond, the claims are satisfied in the following order:

  1. employee labor;

  2. breach of contract;

  3. subcontractors, material, and equipment;

  4. taxes; and

  5. any court costs, interest, and attorneys' fees.

One-half of the bond amount is protected for residential homeowners. For a claim against a specialty contractor, the protected amount is one-half the bond amount or $4,000, whichever is greater.

The Director of the Department may require an applicant applying to renew, reinstate, or apply for a new registration to file a bond of up to three times the normal amount if the Director determines that the applicant, or a previous registration of a corporate officer, owner, or partner of a current applicant, has had in the past five years three final judgments involving a residential single-family dwelling on two or more different structures.


Summary of Bill:

The Director's authority to require a higher bond amount is modified to allow the Director to require up to three times the normal bond amount if there has been one judgment against the contractor involving a residential single-family dwelling.

The Department must convene a work group by August 1, 2019, to consider additional safeguards for consumers who engage contractors. Work group participants must include:

The work group must submit a report with recommendations to the Department and, if applicable, to the appropriate committees of the Legislature by June 30, 2020. The report must address whether:


Appropriation: None.

Fiscal Note: Available.

Effective Date: The bill takes effect 90 days after adjournment of the session in which the bill is passed.

Staff Summary of Public Testimony:

(In support) The bond amount is so low it does not make people whole.  There is no background check or competency requirement for contractors and no remedy for a homeowner if a contractor fails to perform and then becomes a fugitive. The bill tries to find a balance and increases the bond amount for outliers with a final judgment. Most contractors are good.  A fund for homeowners is an idea to explore as are professional standards for building officials and contractors.

(Opposed) None.

Persons Testifying: Representative Orwall, prime sponsor; Tammy Fellin, Department of Labor and Industries; and Amy Brackenbury, Washington Association of Building Officials.

Persons Signed In To Testify But Not Testifying: None.