The California Professional Association of Specialty Contractors (CALPASC) is urging homeowners to think twice before hiring unlicensed contractors. California law holds that significant residential remodels and new construction fall under Cal/OSHAsafety regulations. As such, the homeowner is treated as an employer and required to furnish a safe place of employment.
This is in contrast to “domestic household services,” such as home maintenance, both inside and outside of the house, which are exempt from Cal/OSHAregulations, as are projects where homeowners are doing the work themselves.
According to CALPASC CEO Cees Molenaar, “Homeowners who are remodeling their homes often are in the dark about this requirement. They assume the contractors they hire are licensed professionals and carry the necessary insurance to abide by Cal/OSHA regulations. Unfortunately, today’s growing underground economy creates opportunities for contractors and subcontractors to take advantage of homeowners.”
Homeowners are often unaware of the consequences of hiring unlicensed contractors and assume homeowners’ policies cover unlicensed contractors, which is not the case. Besides the obvious lack of professional ethics and not abiding by California’s legal standards, unlicensed contractors often generate inferior work products and services and subject homeowners to financial exposure if an injury occurs.
Hire only licensed contractors, and ask to see their license and a photo ID to verify their identity.
Always check the California license status at www.cslb.ca.gov to make sure the contractor is in good standing. Don’t pay more than 10 percent or $1,000, whichever is less, as a down payment. Don’t pay in cash, and don’t let payments get ahead of the work. Get at least three bids, check references and get a written contract.