New 2008 Construction Laws Provide Added Protection for Consumers
New laws expand contractor responsibilities, penalties
SACRAMENTO — As the New Year rolls in, the Contractors State License Board (CSLB) reminds consumers that new laws will strengthen the legal protections that are available to them when they are involved in new construction or remodeling projects. This also means that contractors need to learn and heed the new and revised state laws that govern professions within the construction industry.
About two dozen changes to California construction law become effective January 1, 2008. Four of these laws will be important for consumers:
- An amended Business and Professions (B&P) Code that was enhanced by Assembly Bill 14 expands state anti-discrimination law in the Civil Rights Act of 2007. A licensed contractor who refuses services based upon a prospective client's medical condition or sexual orientation can face disciplinary action. This is in addition to existing anti-discrimination law stating that construction-related services must not be denied based upon race, color, sex, religion, ancestry, disability, marital status, or national origin. (B&P §125.6)
- Beginning January 1, 2008, general contractors and subcontractors working under residential construction contracts and amendments can be held liable for construction defects, injury or negligence, regardless of whether that language is included in a contract. (Civil Code §2782)
- The Registrar of Contractors soon will be authorized to order financial restitution for a consumer who becomes an "injured party" as the result of a licensed contractor aiding an unlicensed person, or who allows an unlicensed person to use his or her license. Licensed contractors who violate this law are already subject to civil monetary penalties and disciplinary action against their license. (B&P §7114)
- Beginning in 2008, Landscape Contractors (C-;27) licensed by the Contractors State License Board will be able to enter into prime contracts to construct and install outdoor cooking centers and fireplaces, as long as the projects are included in a residential landscape project, and the fireplace is not attached to the dwelling. Landscapers are currently authorized to be the prime contractor for pool, spa or hot tub projects that are included in a landscape project. However, other properly licensed specialty or general contractors are still required for tasks that are beyond the scope of the landscape contractor classification. (B&P §7027.5)
All California contractor laws are available in the Contractor State License Board's (CSLB) 2008 Law and Reference Book, due for release in early January. The complete content of each legislative change is available by looking up the California code and section number on the following state Website: www.leginfo.ca.gov.
The Contractors State License Board operates under the umbrella of the California Department of Consumer Affairs. The CSLB licenses and regulates California's 315,000 contractors, and investigates more than 20,000 complaints against contractors annually. In Fiscal Year 2006-2007, the CSLB obtained nearly $45 million in ordered restitution for consumers.
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