Builders Law a year behind

A law aimed at improving the quality of construction work in the Cayman Islands by more strictly regulating contractors could end up falling a year behind its scheduled implementation.

Leader of Government Business Kurt Tibbetts once hoped the Builder’s Law (2007), would be in effect as of 1 January, 2008. Now, the Cayman Contractors Association says the law may not be in effect until next year.

‘The Builders Law requires a level standard for all contractors to meet,’ said CCA President Steve Hawley. ‘After Hurricane Ivan, over 400 construction companies were formed and many of them were incompetent, irresponsible or both. Their clients suffered terribly.’

However, regulations that require contractors, among other things, to obtain a minimum $1 million in liability insurance before they are allowed to be licensed under the new law were just approved last month.

The ten-person board which will handle contractor applications has also not been formed, and so no companies are able to be registered under the plan as yet.

When the board is formed, and applications are drafted, the contractors association said it could take up to another year to get companies licensed as their current Trade and Business agreements expire and have to be replaced with Builders Licences.

The law requires both construction businesses and their employees to register with the Builders Board, a government-appointed entity. The board will award operating licences based on the firm’s qualifications in five categories: general construction, building, residential, sub-trade, and civil contracts.

A list of qualified contractors will be available for public review when the licensing process is completed.

Mr. Tibbetts has said the registry will serve as a one-stop shop for contractors who now have to get separate licences from various trade boards.

Annual registration fees will range from $500 to $5,000, and will cost $100 for individuals. Qualified contractors must also pass exams administered by the Builders Board or similar agency.

The board will be allowed to consider previous conduct of the company, including whether that business or its owners have filed for bankruptcy within the last five years.

Liability insurance of $500,000 at minimum will also be required for sub-contractors.

Mr. Hawley said the inclusion of public liability insurance for contractors is as crucial as pension or health insurance coverage for other employers.

‘If I, as a contractor, say that the necessity for proper insurance prices me out of the market, I should not be in the market,’ he said.

The proposal allows the Builders Board to suspend or revoke licences from companies or employees whose work does not display the level of competence expected. The board will be made up of three contractors, two architects, a lawyer, the Cayman Islands Planning Director, the Director of Labour, and two members of the general public.

Individuals who violate the law can be fined up to $2,000 with an additional $250 per day fine if they continue working with being registered. Companies can be fined $10,000 plus $2,500 per day if they don’t register.

There will be an appeals process put in place to dispute fines.