Yet ANOTHER Reason not to Contract without a License

Businessman signing document

A Virginia Court of Appeals upheld a criminal conviction for performing construction work without a license.

October 25, 2021
Christopher G. Hill - Construction Law Musings

Remember when I stated that you cannot lawfully perform construction work in Virginia without a contractor’s license? Remember when I said that you risk non-payment if you do so? If you needed another reason, a relatively recent Virginia Court of Appeals decision upholding a criminal conviction for performing construction work without a license should be that reason.

In Riddel v. Commonwealth, the Court took up an appeal from the conviction of Jeff Riddel where Mr. Riddel was verbally asked by homeowners to inspect and then repair their septic system. Mr. Riddel then contracted with Fairfax Suburban Septic to pump out and repair the system. Mr. Riddel then delivered the homeowners an invoice from Fairfax Suburban Septic and instructed the homeowners to pay Fairfax Suburban Septic directly. After payment, the homeowners became aware that the work was not completed and that neither Mr. Riddel nor his subcontractor was licensed to perform septic work in Virginia.

During the trial, Mr. Riddel argued on a Motion to Strike the Commonwealth’s evidence that (1) he merely arranged for licensed contractors to perform the repairs to the septic system, arguing that Virginia Code §§
54.2-801 to 802 permitted Riddel to arrange the work without a contractor’s license and (2) no written contract to perform a septic inspection or repairs existed. The Circuit Court denied the motion and Mr. Riddel was convicted under Va. Code 54.1-111 for performing the work without a license. Needless to say, he appealed.

Mr. Hill may be contacted at chrisghill@constructionlawva.com



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