Contractors State License Board Encourages Vigilance as Winter Storms Batter State
CSLB offers tips to ensure storm repairs don't turn into costly headachesSACRAMENTO —As flooding and other problems due to rain, snow, and wind bear down on the state, the Contractors State License Board (CSLB) is urging California home owners to be vigilant when it comes to contracting for storm damage clean-up or repairs. Sometimes what appears to be the cheapest solution to remove a fallen tree, fix a downed fence, or patch a leaky roof may not be the wisest choice.
"A state-licensed contractor is the right choice when looking for a legitimate, qualified tradesperson-especially in an urgent situation," said CSLB Registrar Steve Sands. "A CSLB-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 at www.cslb.ca.gov or www.CheckTheLicenseFirst.com, to check the license status of the contractor they plan to hire, and to get tips on wise home repair and improvement choices. Any construction job valued at $500 or more in labor and materials must be done by a state-licensed contractor. California Business & Professions 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. Business & Professions Code allows a gardener to do incidental pruning on trees less than 15 feet and under $500 without a CSLB license.
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.
- Don't pay more than 10 percent or $1,000, whichever is less, as a down payment. An exception exists for about two dozen contractors who carry special bonds that protect consumers. Those contractors are noted on the CSLB Web site.
- 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.
The Contractors State License Board operates under the umbrella of the California Department of Consumer Affairs. CSLB licenses and regulates about 310,000 contractors and is regarded as one of the leading consumer protection agencies in the United States. In fiscal year 2008-09, CSLB helped recover nearly $36 million in ordered restitution for consumers.
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