A consumer alert about unlicensed contractors and the damage they are doing to our Central Coast economy and possibly to your home or business.
Since the end of 2012, the California Contractors State Licensing Board has been enforcing new laws designed to protect consumers from unlicensed contractors.
"The unlicensed contractors have literally been taking advantage of the market", says Water Fixers of Santa Maria owner Victor Kernes, that is affecting a business like ourselves and many other of our associates in a very, very deep and financial way."
Kernes is one of 300,000 licensed, insured and bonded contractors in California.
He says homeowners and business owners need to know the new laws before they start looking for a contractor.
"Basically if any contractor comes into your home to repair, service or change out any type of equipment, install anything new, make any significant repair you have to now have a six-page "Home Improvement" contract to enter the home", Kernes points out adding there is no longer an exclusion for contractor work that is below $500.
The Contractors State Licensing Board routinely holds sting operations targeting unlicensed contractors.
"Think of it like a doctor, would you hire a doctor without a license?" says Rick Lopes of the CSLB, "not only do those people have to pass a criminal background check and exams to show that they are minimally competent to do the work, there's also protections in place if something were to go wrong that the Contractors Board can work with them to try and get the problems taken care of."
Unlicensed contractors are part of an underground economy estimated to be worth tens of billions of dollars yet they pay no taxes, often have no insurance or follow workplace safety laws putting homeowners and business owners who hire them at risk.
"If you have an unlicensed contractor come to your business or to your home to perform work and something goes haywire with the work they have performed, they catch your house on fire, or flood the house, slip and fall on something they have left out inappropriately, a water leak somewhere, you as the homeowner you as the business owner will be liable", Kernes says.
For more information about the CSLB and tips on how to prevent being taken advantage of an unlicensed contractor, go to: http://www.cslb.ca.gov/.