The bill would not affect those who build or work on their own homes.

AUGUSTA (AP) – State regulators want to know whether there’s a need to require hundreds of contractors in Maine’s home building and repair industry to be licensed in order to legally work in the state.

The Professional and Financial Regulation Department is conducting its review in response to a bill that was submitted earlier this year and held over until the 2004 legislative session.

“The legislation we are reviewing represents one of the more significant expansions of a licensing requirement in recent state history,” said Regulation Commissioner Robert Murray Jr. on Tuesday, adding that it could affect “several hundred individuals in the home building and repair industry.”

A bill sponsored by Rep. Scott Cowger, D-Hallowell, seeks to require that home construction and improvement contractors be licensed if they take on projects costing a homeowner $1,400 or more. It would create a seven-member board to oversee licensing.

The bill would not affect those who build or work on their own homes.

In its present form, the proposal affects one- or two-unit dwellings. The 17-page bill does not specify exactly which trades would be covered.

The purpose of the review is to see where problems with contractors exist and what is the best approach to correcting them, said Anne Head, director of licensing and regulation for the department.

“What we’re saying here is there may be a need to look carefully at people who do home renovating and new construction to make sure they know what they’re doing,” Head said.

The department also wants to investigate the impact of such a regulation on the cost of services, and whether public safety would be advanced, said Murray.

“I think there’s an understandable caution by everyone involved in this process not to burden business but to protect the public,” Head said.

The department is inviting comments from consumers and people in the home building industry. Comments can be sent to the commissioner’s office in Augusta.

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