The Municipality of Anchorage has some advice for people who have damage from the Nov. 30 earthquake and need repairs: make sure you do your homework before you hire someone for the job.

Gary Hile, Anchorage's chief of building inspections, said he's heard reports of people going door-to-door soliciting work. While that's not illegal, Hile says residents need to be careful, and make sure that anyone they pay to make repairs to their home is properly licensed.

"I recommend that people verify," Hile said. "And by verifying they can either go to the State of Alaska website or the municipality website and do a database search to see if they are licensed and (confirm) that their license is current."

Hile said contractors who perform work in the Anchorage Bowl are required to have a license from both the state and the municipality. That also carries a requirement they be bonded and insured.

"So that's protection for you if you ever have to go back on that contractor, if they do inferior work for example," he said.

Municipal code also requires that contractors be properly licensed for the work that they perform. Typically, Hile said, general contractors are not licensed to do work on plumbing, electrical or mechanical systems. That work requires specialized licenses, which should also be listed on the city website.

Contractors under an additional category, General Contractor-Handyman, are even more limited in the type of work they are able to perform. Hile said that license is limited to projects that do not exceed $10,000 including all materials and labor. Per municipal code, a handyman is not able to do any work that is structural in nature or requires a permit.

Hile said a permit is required for any structural work that is performed within the Anchorage Building Safety Service Area, which is basically the Anchorage Bowl, no matter how small the job. Permits need to be displayed in a conspicuous place before the work can begin and Hile said homeowners should verify that contractors have the permits they need.

Residents who want to check on what permits are required, whether a contractor is licensed or other related questions can call the Municipality of Anchorage Building Safety Department at 343-8211.

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