Question: My husband was a licensed contractor in Oregon. Eight years ago we bought a lot in Queen Creek to build our retirement home. My husband retired two years ago and we came to Arizona full-time to build and live in our Queen Creek home. Three months after we moved into our Queen Creek home, however, my husband unexpectedly passed away. I cannot afford to live in our Queen Creek home by myself, and I may move back to Oregon to live with my daughter. Will I be able to sell the Queen Creek home even though my husband was not a licensed Arizona contractor?
Answer: Probably. Under Arizona law an owner of land can build a home on that land without obtaining a contractor’s license, but only if the owner intends to occupy the home, and does not intend to sell or rent the home. If the owner of the home sells or rents the home within one year after completion of the home, the law presumes that the owner never intended to occupy the home. This presumption is rebutted, however, if there is a “change in circumstances,” e.g., the owner loses his job and is no longer able to make the mortgage payments, or the owner builds a home in the high altitude of Flagstaff which aggravates a heart condition. Therefore, because of the unexpected death of your husband, you should be able to sell the Queen Creek home now, despite the lack of a contractor’s license by your husband. A.R.S. §32-1121(A)(5).
Note: You will have to disclose to any buyer of your home that the home was not built by a licensed contractor. Furthermore, a regular home inspector may not have the sophisticated training to discover significant construction defects, and you should recommend to any buyer of your home that they have a home inspection by an engineer or a licensed contractor.