We often focus on issues contractors face in keeping or obtaining their licenses. However, we also hear from consumers, some with issues that go beyond our ability to answer or provide advice. While we often work for attorneys I am not a legal advisor. Answering the questions about contractor’s licensing is why this column exists and provides expert assistance to anyone who asks…
Q: I hired a contractor to do remodeling on my home. While things started out fine, they quickly deteriorated. When all was said and done, I had a mess on my hands to the tune of several hundred thousand dollars in damages. The contractor will not answer my calls or emails so I contacted an attorney I know he said I might end up spending over $100,000 to get the contractor into court – and still might lose the case. This attorney told me not to bother contacting the Contractors Board because “they won’t help you resolve this problem”. It appears you deal mostly with contractors but I came across your column on line and hope you can answer my questions: 1) Do you think I should use an attorney to fight this contractor? 2) Do you think I should contact the CSLB? 3) What is the process I’ll need to go through if I use the Contractors Board? 4) Do you believe they’ll be able to help me? Thank you for your time.
A: You’re correct, in that many of my readers are contractors; however, I do receive some questions from other professionals as well as homeowners like yourself. In response to question #1, I cannot give you legal advice nor tell you whether to use this attorney (or any attorney) since I’m unfamiliar with the facts of this case. However, anyone likely would recommend thinking twice about spending over $100,000 to hopefully get back this amount or more in damages.
I imagine your goal is to have these problems fixed by another contractor without having to pay additional money to the new contractor — or an attorney. Whether you decide to use an attorney or not, my answer to question #2 is YES. You should file a formal complaint with the CSLB against the contractor. They will likely first attempt to mediate the problem and see if the contractor will fix these issues at your home. If this is unsuccessful, the Board has the capacity to further investigate and determine if there are damages as you describe and what it would cost another contractor to make these repairs.
In answer to your #3 question, I would recommend visiting ‘cslb.ca.gov’ and click on the “Consumer” section. Then click on “Filing a Construction Complaint”. This section has an overview about how CSLB addresses complaints and the procedures that are followed. I cannot tell you if they’ll be able to help you; There is no cost to you as a homeowner for filing a complaint with the Contractors Board.
Q: I bought a painting business two years ago and the previous owner stayed on the license as a Responsible Managing Officer (RMO). I have been running the business for two years and I also have a B.A. and Masters degree in Business. Would I qualify for a Waiver of the exams based on my experience and education?
A: While it sounds like you have the requisite amount of experience and education to qualify to replace the previous owner as the RMO, you will still be required to take the law and trade exams. Get back in touch if we can assist you.