After a series of severe damaging storms and with more wind and rain expected to impact California, the Contractors State License Board (CSLB) is reminding homeowners to use licensed contractors for any construction repairs above $500.
After a disaster, CSLB’s mission is to help ensure unlicensed or unscrupulous contractors do not take advantage of consumers.
Homeowners should use CSLB’s Find My Licensed Contractor feature to build personalized lists of licensed contractors in their area. They should always check all contractors’ license numbers on the CSLB website and check each contractor’s pocket license to confirm the person representing the construction business is listed as personnel of record on the license. A CSLB-issued state license is required for any construction job of $500 or more (labor and/or materials).
“Disaster survivors take a huge risk when they hire unlicensed contractors,” said CSLB Registrar David Fogt. “Most are not properly insured and likely don’t have the skills or knowledge to perform the work.”
Homeowners should be aware that CSLB offers a designated Disaster Help Center section online, which provides publications that can be downloaded or ordered. These include “Debris Removal and Construction Scams,” “After a Disaster, Don’t Get Scammed,” and “What You Should Know Before Hiring a Contractor.” In addition, information can be requested by calling CSLB’s Disaster Hotline, 800-962-1125, staffed Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., or via the automated assistance line, 800-321-CSLB (2752).
Californians seeking information about the state’s response and recovery efforts should visit the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) website.
Tips for Hiring a Contractor
- Don’t rush into repairs or cleanup, no matter how badly they’re needed.
- Don’t sign over any payment checks from your insurance company.
- Work with your local building department to make sure you understand the rebuilding process and take advantage of all services they can provide.
- Hire only California-licensed contractors. Ask to see the license. The license number must be on all ads, contracts, and business cards.
- Get three bids, check references, and get a written contract. Don’t necessarily take the lowest bid, especially if it’s much less than other bids.
- Don’t rush into decisions and don’t hire the first contractor who comes along.
- Don’t pay more than 10 percent down or $1,000 — whichever is less.
- Don’t pay cash, and don’t let the payments get ahead of the work. Only pay for work as it is completed to your satisfaction.
- Keep a job file of all project papers, including correspondence and copies of all payments.
- Avoid making the final payment until you’re satisfied with the job.