Contractors Board Warns California Storm Victims Against Hiring Unlicensed Contractors
SACRAMENTO — The Contractors State License Board (CSLB) warns California storm victims to use caution when hiring a contractor to repair or rebuild their homes. The CSLB has found that some unscrupulous or unlicensed contractors take advantage of homeowners who are anxious to repair their homes after major storms.
Consumers can protect themselves by using CSLB's resources to check a contractor's license status and history and by following a series of important tips.
"Don't hire the first contractor who comes along. It's better to wait for a licensed contractor than to rush into repairs with an unlicensed contractor, "said CSLB Registrar Steve Sands. "Take your time and protect yourself against con artists who will take your money and run -- or incompetent contractors who will perform shoddy work. Hire only licensed contractors and check them out with the Board."
Consumers can verify a contractor's license status 24 hours a day using the CSLB's Web site at www.cslb.ca.gov or toll-free automated telephone system at (800) 321-CSLB (2752). They can also download or order helpful publications, such as "What You Should Know Before You Hire A Contractor," free of charge.
Contractors working on any job -- from debris removal to roof repair to rebuilding -- totaling $500 or more for labor and materials must be licensed by the CSLB. To become licensed, a contractor must pass a licensing examination, verify at least four years of journey-level experience, and carry a license bond.
The CSLB urges consumers to follow these tips when dealing with a building contractor:
- Hire only licensed contractors and ask to see the license
- Don't hire the first contractor who comes along
- Don't rush into repairs, no matter how badly they're needed
- Verify the contractor's license at www.cslb.ca.gov or (800) 321-CSLB
- Don't pay more than 10 percent or $1,000, whichever is less, as a down payment
- Don't pay cash, and don't let the payments get ahead of the work
- Get three bids, check references, and get a written contract
The CSLB, which operates under the umbrella of the California Department of Consumer Affairs, licenses 278,000 contractors in California and investigates 25,000 complaints against licensed and unlicensed contractors every year.
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