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CSLB Press Release - 12/03/12

Contractors State License Board Reminds Storm Victims to Check the License First Before Making Repairs

CSLB tips help prevent storm repairs from becoming costly headaches


SACRAMENTO — The Contractors State License Board (CSLB) is urging California home owners to be vigilant when it comes to contracting for cleanup or repairs from this weekend’s heavy rain and high winds. Sometimes what appears to be the cheapest solution to repair flood damage, remove a fallen tree, fix a downed fence, or patch a leaky roof may not be the best choice.

"Anyone who needs to repair post-storm damage should be looking for a legitimate, qualified tradesperson — especially in an urgent situation," said CSLB Registrar Steve Sands. "A licensed contractor who is skilled in the specific trade you're seeking is insured and bonded, and is not likely to leave you in the lurch when it comes to properly completing the job at a fair price."

Consumers can use CSLB's online resources, available on www.cslb.ca.gov or CheckTheLicenseFirst.com, to review the license status of a contractor they plan to hire, and to get tips on the best approach to home repair projects. Any construction job valued at $500 or more in labor and materials must be done by a state-licensed contractor. California Business and Professions (B&P) Code requires licensees to carry workers' compensation insurance coverage for their employees, and to be bonded.

For tree trimming and removal jobs where the tree is 15 feet or higher and the job is more than $500, the contractor must be state-licensed. The B&P Code allows a gardener who does not have a state license to work on incidental tree pruning if the tree is less than 15 feet and the job costs less than $500.

State law requires all Roofing (C-39) contractors to carry workers' compensation insurance, even if they do not have employees, to ensure that consumers are protected in the event of an accident or injury on the homeowner's property.

CSLB urges consumers to follow these tips when soliciting bids from any home improvement contractor:

  • Hire only licensed contractors, and ask to see the license and photo identification.
  • Don't rush into repairs, no matter how badly they're needed.
  • Be careful when using online bulletin boards like craigslist.org. Unlicensed operators may try to mislead you into thinking they are licensed.
  • Don't pay more than 10 percent or $1,000, whichever is less, as a down payment.
  • Don't pay in cash, and don't let the payments get ahead of the work.
  • Get at least three bids, check references, and get a written contract.
  • Contact CSLB if you have a complaint against a contractor.

The Contractors State License Board licenses and regulates California's 300,000 contractors, operating under the umbrella of the California Department of Consumer Affairs. It is regarded as one of the leading consumer protection agencies in the United States. In fiscal year 2011-12, CSLB helped recover nearly $36 million in ordered restitution for consumers. More information and publications about hiring contractors are available on CSLB's website or by calling (800) 321-CSLB (2752). You also can sign up to receive automatic CSLB email alerts.