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With permits to build High Desert homes at a record low, the last thing local contractors need is higher costs just to keep their doors open.

But that’s exactly what Jim James, owner of James Gang Construction in Victorville, got when he opened his latest insurance statement.

The Contractors State License Board mandates that contractors are bonded by a licensed surety company for a minimum of $12,500, to protect customers in case the job isn’t finished or not done up to par.

A year ago, James was paying $400 every two years for the needed bond.

This year that bill shot up to $1,343 each year, for a 670 percent annual increase.

Other local contractors confirmed their bond fees went up significantly this year as well, though they declined to have their name included in this story.

“We don’t have a choice but to come up with the money otherwise we lose our licenses,” James said. “It’s a real hardship right now, right before Christmas and with school just starting back up

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