Recent Changes in Home Improvement Contract

While contractors bid, build and work their businesses daily it can be difficult to stay ahead of changes in licensing rules and regulations. Changes occur through new legislation, new interpretation of rules and Board policy. Some recent changes in home improvement contract requirements are a good example. Can you ‘give’ your license to a child when you’re ready to call it quits? I will also give contractors the ‘keyword’ to quick answers on a wide range of licensing and industry issues just a keyboard away…

Q: Can my daughter, who has worked with me in this company since 1990 get her own license? I am looking to retire and would like for her to take over the business.

A: Thank you for your email. Based on the information you provided, I would say your daughter could get her own license if she is taking over “the family business”. 7065.1(b) allows “immediate family members” to qualify for a contractors license with a waiver of the license exams if they’ve “been actively engaged” in the licensee’s business for 5 of the previous 7 years. A part of this code section states “the license is required to continue the existing family business in the event of the absence or death of the licensee”. The Contractors Board has determined that “absence” includes retirement.

Q: I just completed a contract on a home. Some of the area to be repaired was in the sub-floor and walls so I could not tell how much repair would be needed before I began the job. Therefore, the contract was for time and materials. Now the homeowner is complaining that some of my time was “overstated”. It wasn’t; however, he refuses to pay the full amount. What can I do?

A: You are the third person this week to call me with a “time and materials” question. B&P Code Section 7159 details the requirements for Home Improvement Contracts. Much of this code section is very precise and includes some exact language and even the type sizes for some wording. One of the items required is the “Contract Price” which must be followed by the amount of the contract in “dollars and cents”. Since “time and materials” is open ended — and therefore unacceptable — the homeowner may have a legitimate basis for refusing to pay the entire amount.

In the future, you might consider stating a price with the understanding that there will likely be additional work. This can be covered on a “change-order” form, yet another requirement in 7159.

Q: I have a criminal record from 2002. The court expunged it last month. Can I still apply for a California contractor license? How long will it take? Do I still need to tell the State about this issue? I have the required 4 years work experience.

A: You can certainly apply for a license and just as certainly you should divulge all information about your criminal background. The FBI and CA Department of Justice retain information even if a record is expunged. I cannot tell you how the CSLB will ultimately decide on your application; however, it will likely take them 5-6 months to conduct a review due to this criminal record. If they deny your application, you can appeal their decision.

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