Armed with legislation enjoying the backing of Utah's established home contractors, state regulators hope to crack down on the large number of unlicensed builders - if they can get the funding to do the job.

Boyd Hansen, first vice president of the Home Builders Association of Utah, said the legitimate home-building industry is being harmed by unlicensed construction firms, and the new legislation would help correct the situation.But state officials say even if they are responsible for ensuring builders are licensed and insured, lack of funding and manpower has left them unable to do that job effectively.

Without additional money, the state should get out of the regulatory business altogether, said Judd Weiler licensing coordinator for the state Occupational and Professional Licensing Division.

"We're asking the Legislature to appropriate from the licensing fees money for compliance," he said. "We've either got to have compliance or do away with licensing."

The Occupational and Professional Licensing Division is seeking passage of the Uniform Building Standards Act and the Construction Trades Licensing Act - measures the agency says would correct an oversight in 1987 legislation that put building code enforcement under the division's jurisdiction.

"It will at least make the new contractors who come in be financially responsible and will probably weed out the fly-by-nights," said Hansen.

In addition to strengthening the state's policing capability, the legislation would expand from 10 members to 19 the state's Contractors Licensing Advisory Committee, which reviews requests for amendments or variances to the building codes.

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