Contractor License Bonds in California; Solar contractor

Now you see them, now you don’t! Has your bonding company ‘disappeared’? With all the recent emphasis on ‘green’ tech, it is no surprise to many that the CSLB is ‘shining’ its light on solar energy contractor’s regulations. As licensed contractors you have the right to work in California. You also have an obligation, really a self-serving need, to make a call on suspect contractors knowing SWIFT action will follow…

Tens of thousands of contractors carry bonds through Surety Company of the Pacific (SCP) — or at least they did until a few weeks ago. Effective March 2nd, SCP was merged into American Contractors Indemnity Company (ACIC). As a result of the merger, ACIC has directly assumed the surety bond obligations of SCP, which no longer exists as a separate surety company.

According to the Contractors Board, all SCP bonds are now ACIC surety bonds. Therefore, as a result, the CSLB has updated its bonding history to reflect this change. If you had a bond through SCP, and you visit the CSLB web site, you’ll see that your SCP bond was cancelled effective 3/2/09 and replaced with a new ACIC bond with the same effective date. Not to worry, this did not create a gap in your license bond since your old bond was automatically converted. The CSLB has emphasized that for contractors caught in this change, there was “no interruption in coverage”.

Yet, more important news from the CSLB.

There is a move afoot to simplify the “C-46” (solar) definition. As presently written, this classification covers all manner of solar systems including “forced air, forced circulation water, thermosiphon, integral collector/storage….” You get the idea. As proposed, the new definition would replace a lengthy paragraph to read: “a solar contractor installs, modifies, maintains, and repairs thermal and photovoltaic energy systems.” As it relates to the solar industry, CSLB issued a statewide Consumer Alert to warn unsuspecting property owners of scams in the popular “green” contracting trades.

In good times and bad, scam artists prey on unsuspecting homeowners – often senior citizens. For the vast majority of hard working contractors these relatively few unethical or illegal operators cast a bad light on the industry. It is therefore in everyone’s best interest to be aware of potential unlicensed activities and report these to the CSLB as quickly as possible.

For example, according to the CSLB, an anonymous tip led to the arrest of a Clovis man who was allegedly scamming an elderly homeowner in Fresno County. Quick action by the Contractors Board and the Fresno County District Attorney’s Office apparently stopped an 82-year-old hearing-impaired property owner from losing thousands of dollars. At the site, District Attorney investigators discovered that the homeowner was told he was getting a deal with materials left over from another job. But, he was not given a price for the project until after work had begun and was then told that the price was thousands of dollars more than he expected.

Authorities arrived before any money was paid and determined that the suspended license being used on the job actually belonged to someone in another state. The contractor was arrested and charged with illegally using another’s license, contracting without a license, illegal advertising, and Worker’s Compensation violations. Fresno County authorities also seized his equipment.

A common contracting scam used by transient paving crews is to take exorbitant amounts of money for substandard materials and work, and then quickly move on to more victims. They often ask for payment up front, and will cash checks and leave the area before victims suspect they’ve been ripped off.

Investigators from the CSLB’s Statewide Investigative Fraud Team (SWIFT) believe there may be similar traveling crews and have asked that any suspect activities be reported to SWIFT investigators immediately at (916) 255-2924.