Watch out for Unlicensed Contractors
A woman hired a recommended contractor to remodel her kitchen and dining room. When she asked if he was licensed, the contractor provided a number. Months into the $32,750 project her contractor stopped showing up at the job site. With much of the work still unfinished, and exposed electrical wiring, the woman found out that the license number the contractor had given her belonged to someone else. A spokeswoman for the Contractors State License Board stated that there are thousands of people out there breaking the law by contracting without a license. Californians spend an estimated $10 billion annually on home remodeling and construction projects, which make it very tempting. Last year more than 700 unlicensed contractors across California were investigated.
How To Protect Yourself
The following is advice from the license board:
- Any contractor working a job worth $500 or more must be licensed in California. Ask to see a contractor’s “pocket license.” Check the number with the Contractors State License Board at www.cslb.ca.gov, or call (800) 321-2752
- Know the limits for deposits. Contractors cannot ask for more than 10% of the total coast of the job or $1,000, whichever is less, unless the contractor has a special bond.
- Make sure your contract is as specific as possible. Check the website of the license board for advice on contracts and binding agreements, or call to ask for a copy of the Consumer Guide to Home Improvement Contracts.
- Know about the complaint process. Consumers have up to four years from the time of an alleged violation to file a complaint. You can fill out an online form or call (800) 321-2752.
- Be as informed as possible about the construction and remodel process. Consumers can order pamphlets on everything from screening contractors to filing court claims by calling or checking an online list of publications.
To protect the public, the state requires that would-be contractors work first as journeymen or apprentices for four years before they can apply for a license of their own. Once licensed, they must carry workers’ compensation insurance if they have employees and a $12,500 bond. Violations are happening everyday, which is why it important to file a complaint with the contractors board if you are having similar issues with your contractor licensed or not.