By Jeff Nilluka
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Being in the industry for more than 20 years and having my own business for almost seven, I have seen so much change and the economy plays a huge part in the change.
As soon as the economy shifts and people lose their jobs, many go to home repair. They may have helped their neighbor with a bathroom remodel or worked on their own home and think, “I can do this for profit until I find another job.” Unfortunately for the homeowner hiring these people, they take a recommendation from a friend or neighbor and don’t ask the worker for a license number, or don’t know how to check online if they are indeed licensed.
Taking a recommendation without knowing is like playing with fire and very serious. So serious that the California State License Board regularly does stings to catch unlicensed “contractors.” I get updates from the CSLB so I can see them all; however, they mostly take place in a more populated city. So when I saw that they did a sting right in Cameron Park, I was more than surprised and happy to see it.
In a sting, investigators from CSLB’s Statewide Investigative Fraud Team pose as property owners and invite individuals advertising as contractors to submit bids. Those individuals were either advertising in local papers, with business cards and flyers or through online bulletin boards, such as craigslist, and were asked to provide a bid.
Keep in mind these were all jobs higher than the amount of $500; if material and labor are less than $500 you do not need to have a license to do the work. If you were to hire a handyman for a small job they could perform the work; however, if it costs more than $500, the law states it must be performed by a CSLB-licensed contractor.
In the case of this sting, they were all significantly large jobs and an alarming 11 out of 12 were cited on misdemeanor charges of contracting without a license.
One of those caught was also caught back in 2007 in another sting operation in Roseville, where he was cited for three violations — contracting without a contractor license, misrepresenting a license number and unlawful advertising. A man with this individual, his supposed business partner, was found to be a convicted sex offender. Fortunately, CSLB does fingerprinting now on all applicants and has been doing it since 2005.
These laws not only keep contractors honest and legal, but also completely protect the homeowners. Always check a license. It’s as easy as going to cslb.ca.govand clicking on “Instant License Check” on the home page, or simply ask to see their pocket license.
Jeff Nilluka is a licensed contractor No. 875781 and the owner of Cambrian Construction in the El Dorado County. He and his wife Jenelle can be reached by their website at cambrian-construction.com or (916) 458-1771.