New CSLB Video Now Airing on Santa Barbara City and County Cable Channels
"Rebuilding After a Natural Disaster" gives Jesusita fire victims the tools to start over.
SACRAMENTO — A new step-by-step video produced by the Contractors State License Board (CSLB) that helps explain to victims of the Santa Barbara County Jesusita wild fire and victims of other natural disasters how to safely rebuild their lives and homes is now airing on cable TV throughout the county.
"Rebuilding After a Natural Disaster" takes homeowners through the process of developing a rebuilding plan, hiring a contractor, financing, contracts, and actual project work. It also reviews some of the perils that homeowners can face and how to avoid them.
The video shadows a couple who lost their home in a fire as they are coached through the entire rebuilding process by an expert. Since most disaster victims won't have access to their own personal expert, this new video provides the next best thing. Some of the topics covered include: why the lowest bid isn't necessary the best bid, what to look for in your contract, how to check references, and whether contractors charge for a bid.
"Even in the best of times, major contracting projects are a tough thing to go through alone," said CSLB Registrar Steve Sands. "CSLB's new video provides valuable tips that we hope will empower homeowners to have a positive experience while putting their lives back together. We extend our thanks to both the city and county of Santa Barbara for agreeing to air this video on their cable channels."
"Rebuilding After a Natural Disaster" is airing on cable in the city of Santa Barbara (CITY-TV Channel 18) and throughout Santa Barbara County (CSBTV Channel 20).
CSLB is maintaining a high profile in the Jesusita fire zone, routinely canvassing damaged neighborhoods, offering help and advice to fire victims and coordinating efforts with other local, state and federal agencies. Undercover operations are also being set up to target phony contractors who may try to victimize homeowners a second time.
Contractors working on any job - from demolition to roof repair to rebuilding - totaling $500 or more for labor and materials must be licensed by CSLB. To become licensed, a contractor must pass a licensing examination, verify at least four years of journey-level experience and pass a criminal background check. Contracting in a declared disaster zone without a proper license is a felony.
Consumers can verify a contractor's license status and find out if the contractor's license is active and in the right classification for the work to be done through CSLB's Web site at www.cslb.ca.gov or through its toll-free automated telephone system at 1-800-321-CSLB (2752). These resources also indicate whether there are any legal complaints against the contractor, if the business name and address are correct, and if there is workers' compensation insurance coverage for employees. Consumers can download tips and publications on a variety of subjects, including disaster scams, how to hire a contractor, and home improvement contracts from the CSLB Web site.
CSLB urges consumers to follow these tips when hiring a 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 1-800-321-CSLB (2752).
- 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 three bids, check references, and get a written contract.
In 2009, CSLB, which operates under the umbrella of the Department of Consumer Affairs, marks its 80th anniversary of protecting consumers by regulating California's construction industry. Today CSLB licenses about 315,000 contractors. In any given year, complaints are filed against only 3% of licensed contractors. In fiscal year 2007-08, the CSLB helped consumers recover $35.2 million in ordered restitution.
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