Contractors State License Board Encourages Vigilance When Making Wind Storm Repairs
CSLB tips to assure repairs don’t turn into costly headaches
SACRAMENTO — As gusty winds settle down around California, the Contractors State License Board (CSLB) is urging home owners to be vigilant when it comes to contracting for property clean-up or repairs. Sometimes what appears to be the cheapest solution to remove a fallen tree or fix a downed fence may be much more costly in the long run.
"A state-licensed contractor is the right choice, especially in an urgent situation," said CSLB Registrar Steve Sands. "A CSLB-licensed contractor who is skilled in the specific trade you’re seeking will have a license bond, and is unlikely to leave you in the lurch when it comes to properly completing the job at a fair price."
Consumers can use CSLB’s instant license check to find the license status of any contractor they plan to hire, and to get tips on wise home repair and improvement choices in several languages. CSLB’s video, "Rebuilding After a Natural Disaster," is also available online.
Any construction job valued at $500 or more for labor and materials must be done by a state-licensed contractor. California law requires licensees to carry workers’ compensation insurance coverage for their employees, and C-39 Roofing contractors must have workers’ comp even if they certify they have no employees.
It is also against state law for any contractor to ask for or accept a down payment greater than 10 percent of the contract price or $1,000, whichever is less. (There is an exception for about two dozen contractors who have special bonds that ensure consumer protection; this information is noted in the display page for those contractors on CSLB’s website.)
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.
- Only pay 10 percent or $1,000, whichever is less, as a down payment.
- Never 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. Make sure any changes to the original contract are noted in writing, and that you sign or initial them.
The Contractors State License Board operates under the umbrella of the California Department of Consumer Affairs. More information and publications about hiring contractors are available on the CSLB website or by calling 800-321-CSLB (2752). You can also sign up for CSLB email alerts. CSLB licenses and regulates California's more than 300,000 contractors, and is regarded as one of the leading consumer protection agencies in the United States. In fiscal year 2010-11, CSLB helped recover nearly $45 million in ordered restitution for consumers.
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