CSLB Continues Underground Economy

CSLB Underground EconomyThe CSLB continues underground economy by making the requirements to obtain a license more restrictive.

They like to taut their sting operations and talk about where the “illegal contractors” are coming from. But what they aren’t talking about is how they are clamping down on what they will and will not accept as experience.

I was told recently by a CSLB employee that those in power are considering restricting who can be a certifier. It was suggested that they may only accept certifier’s who are contractors and/or contractor employers. They would no longer accept clients as certifiers or business associates as certifiers.

IF they do this, they better go thru the legislature because the law states who can be a certifier. The CSLB track record since Rick Villucci gained power is to do whatever they want without getting legislative approval.

Remember the “critical classifications” as the CSLB called them? CSLB staff has been directed to no longer use that term. Why? Because the Rick Villucci regime did not have the legal authority to segregate (profile) applications based on the trade that was being applied for.

Here’s a recent press release from the Contractors State License Board…

CSLB Drives Home Message to Unlicensed Contractors in Ventura County

Nearly 70 percent of illegal contractors from outside of county during two-day Moorpark sting 

SACRAMENTO  – Unlicensed contractors won’t let a long drive dissuade them from trying to steal work from legitimate contractors. A sting operation conducted in Moorpark last week by the Contractors State License Board (CSLB) once again showed that to be true. Ten of the 14 individuals cited for illegal contracting came from outside of the area, including the outer reaches of Los Angeles County.

“Unlicensed contractors will beat a path to your door if they think there’s a big paycheck in it for them,” said CSLB Registrar Cindi Christenson. “Many times, they will turn in very low bids to get the job. But homeowners take big risks if they fall into that trap. Always remember to check CSLB’s website to see if the person you plan to hire is licensed and in good standing.”

Investigators from CSLB’s Statewide Investigative Fraud Team (SWIFT), assisted by Ventura County Sheriff’s Office deputies, held the sting at a ranch-style home near Moorpark College on April 8 and 9, 2015. Seven unlicensed contractors were caught each day and were given Notices to Appear in Ventura County Superior Court on charges of misdemeanor illegal contracting.

“The Moorpark Police Department and Ventura County Sheriff’s Office appreciate our partnership with the Contractors State License Board,” said Captain John Reilly of the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office. “Our joint efforts in this operation send a clear message that unlicensed contractors operating in Ventura County will be targeted and prosecuted.”

SWIFT investigators used tips from a variety of sources, including the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office, a nearby city building department, and a state agency, to create a list of suspected unlicensed contractors who might be interested in submitting a home improvement bid. Project bids were given to investigators for installation of a tankless water heater, installation of vinyl fencing, flooring, tree removal, and interior painting.

All suspects turned in bids that were in excess of the limit allowed by state contracting laws. Any project that is $500 or more in combined labor and material costs must be performed by a state-licensed contractor, per Business and Professions Code section 7028. The highest bid, for the vinyl fence, was for $10,000; most were in the $2,000-$5,000 range.

All 14 suspects were cited for contracting without a license, as well as an additional charge of illegal advertising (Business and Professions Code section 7027.1). State law prohibits unlicensed contractors from advertising for construction-related work valued at $500 or more, although they can advertise for jobs below that amount if the ad states that they are not licensed.

First-conviction penalties for contracting without a license include up to six months in jail and/or up to $5,000 in fines. Penalties are more severe with each successive violation.

Suspects have a court date of either June 17 or June 18, 2015, in Ventura County Superior Court, 800 South Victoria Avenue, Ventura CA 90039.

What You Need to Know About Enforcement Actions by the Contractors State License Board

What You Need to Know About Enforcement Actions by the Contractors State License Board

I questioned whether to even write this post.

Because, of course, YOU would never find yourself hightailing it out of town  with the California Contractor’s State License Board (“CSLB”) sniffing down your tail pipes.

Then again, mistaken identities occur all the time. So, here’s what you need to know if the CSLB mistakes you for one of “those” contractors.

What violations are subject to CSLB enforcement actions?

The CSLB can take enforcement actions based on any one of numerous violations set forth under the California Business and Professions Code (“B&P Code”), including:

  1. B&P Code §7107: Abandonment of a construction project or operation without legal excuse.
  2. B&P Code §7108: Diversion or misapplication of funds or property received for prosecution or completion of a construction project or operation.
  3. B&P Code §7108.5: Failure to pay a subcontractor not later than 7 days after receipt of each progress payment, unless otherwise agreed to in writing or in the absence of a good faith dispute over the amount due.
  4. B&P Code §7108.6: Failure to pay transportation charged submitted by a dump truck carrier, unless otherwise agreed to in writing or in the absence of a good faith dispute over the charges claimed.
  5. B&P Code §7109: Willful departure from or disregard of accepted trade standards or plans and specifications.
  6. B&P Code §7109.5: Violation of a safety provision under the California Labor Code (Labor Code section 6300 et seq.) resulting in death or serious injury to an employee.
  7.  B&P Code §7110: Willful or deliberate disregard of building, safety, labor, workers compensation, unemployment, the Subletting and Subcontracting Fair Practices Act, or violation of the California Health and Safety Code or California Water Code relating to digging, boring, or drilling of water wells.
  8. B&P Code §7110.1: Requiring a release from an unpaid laborer in violation of the California Labor Code (Labor Code section 206.5).
  9. B&P Code §7110.5: Being found by the California Labor Commissioner to have willful or deliberately violated the Labor Code.
  10. B&P Code §7111: Failure to make and keep records showing all contracts, documents, records, receipts and disbursements for a period of 5 years after completion of a construction project or operation.
  11. B&P Code §7111.1: Failure or refusal to respond to a written request by the CSLB to cooperate in the investigation of a complaint against the licensee.
  12. B&P Code §§7112 and 7112.1: Omitting or misrepresenting a material fact when obtaining or renewing a license or adding a classification to an existing license.
  13. B&P Code §7113: Failing to complete a construction project or operation for the price stated in the contract or in any modification to the contract.
  14. B&P Code §7113.5: Avoiding or settling of an obligation for less than the full amount through: (a) composition, arrangement, or reorganization with creditors under state law; (b) composition, arrangement, or reorganization with creditors under any agreement or understanding; (c) receivership; (d) assignment for the benefit of creditors; (e) trusteeship; or (f) dissolution, unless discharged or settled in bankruptcy under federal law.
  15. B&P Code §7114: Aiding or abetting an unlicensed person with an intent to evade the License Law.
  16. B&P Code §7114.1: Signing a falsified certificate of experience or certifying false or misleading experience.
  17. B&P Code §7114.2: Displaying a canceled, revoked, suspended, or fraudulently altered license, using a fictitious license or document simulating a license, lending a license to another person, or knowingly permitting the unlawful use of a license.
  18. B&P Code §7115: Failure to comply with the License Law or engaging in collusion under California Public Contracts Code section 7106.
  19. B&P Code §7116: Willfully or fraudulently injuring another.
  20. B&P Code §7116.5: Engaging in conduct that subverts or attempts to subvert an investigation by the CSLB.
  21. B&P Code §7117: Acting in the capacity of a contractor under a license that is not his or hers or with personnel not identified under the license.
  22. B&P Code §7117.5: Acting in the capacity of a contractor under an inactive, suspended, or expired license.
  23. B&P Code §7117.6: Acting in the capacity of a contractor in a classification other than a classification currently held.
  24. B&P Code §7118: Entering into a contract with an unlicensed contractor.
  25. B&P Code §7118.4: Failure, by a contractor who has made an inspection to determine the presence of asbestos, to disclose orally and in writing that there is an ownership or financial relationship with a contractor performing corrective work.
  26. B&P Code §7118.5: Knowingly or negligently entering into a contract with a person who is not certified to engage in asbestos-related work.
  27. B&P Code §7118.6: Knowingly or negligently entering into a contract with a person who is not certified to engage in hazardous waste remediation.
  28. B&P Code §7119: Willful failure or refusal to to diligently prosecute a construction project or operation without legal excuse.
  29. B&P Code §7120: Willful or deliberate failure to pay money when due for materials or services rendered or false denial of any amount due or the validity of a claim with intent to secure a discount or delay.
  30. B&P Code §7121: Employing or associating as an officer, director, partner, manager, qualifier or one of the personnel of record of a licensee, a person whose license was previously denied, suspended, or revoked, or who had knowledge of or participate in acts of an organization which had its license previously denied, suspended, or revoked.
  31. B&P Code §7121.5: Employing or associating as an officer, director, partner, manager, or qualifier, a qualifier of an organization which has had its license revoked or suspended, regardless of whether he or she had knowledge of or participated in any acts of the  organization which led to its license being revoked or suspended.
  32. B&P Code §7123: Being convicted of a crime substantially related to the qualifications, functions and duties of a contractor.
  33. B&P Code §7123.5: Overpricing work following an emergency or major disaster.

What happens when a complaint is filed or enforcement action initiated against my license?

The CSLB may initiate enforcement action on its own. However, more typically, a complaint is filed against a license. The License Law states that “any person” may file a complaint against a license. Usually, however, a complaint is filed by an owner or another contractor, subcontractor, material supplier or employee.

Complaints based on patent defects must be filed within 4 years after the act or omission. Complaints based on latent defects must be filed within 10 years after the act or omission. And complaints based on misrepresentations of material facts, or based on criminal conduct, must be filed within 2 years of discovery.

When a complaint is filed it is processed at the CSLB Intake and Mediation Center nearest the location where the alleged violation occurred. If the complaint is found to fall within the CSLB’s jurisdiction the CSLB will send confirmation of receipt of the complaint to the complainant and a notice to the contractor.

  1. Notice of Possible Violation: The notice to the contractor will usually request information as to whether a settlement has been reached, whether a settlement was offered but not accepted, whether the contractor contends that no violation exists, or if there is further information the contractor would like to share with the CSLB.
  2. Investigation: If a complaint is not resolved, a CSLB consumer services representative (CSR) will contact the complainant and the contractor to request additional information and documentation and attempt to mediate the dispute. If the CSR determines that further investigation is necessary, he or she can assign the case to an enforcement representative (ER) who will conduct an investigation by requesting further information and documents, and conducting interviews, to determine whether there is clear and convincing evidence of a violation of the License Law.
  3. CSLB-Sponsored Arbitration: In certain cases, the CSLB can refer the parties to the CSLB-sponsored arbitration program. The CSLB-sponsored arbitration program is only available if: (a) the dispute involves damages greater than $12,500 but less than $50,000; (b) the contractor has a license in good standing; (c) the contractor does not have a history of repeated or similar violations; (d)  the contractor does not currently have a disciplinary action pending against him or her; and (e) the parties have not previously agreed to arbitrate or are willing to waive a contractual agreement to arbitrate. The CSLB-sponsored arbitration program is voluntary, unless the damages are equal to or below $12,500, in which case arbitration can be mandated. If the  parties participate in the CSLB-sponsored arbitration the arbitrator’s decision is binding.
  4. CSLB Enforcement Action: Once an investigation is concluded the CSLB may take one or more of the following actions: (a) issue a warning letter; (b) issue a citation; (c) file an accusation; or (d) close the complaint because the parties’  settled, for lack of evidence, or because it found no violation. In rare instances, the CSLB may seek injunctive relief with the courts or refer the matter to a local prosecutor for the filing of criminal charges.

What is a warning letter?

If a violation is found but the contractor’s actions are not egregious and the contractor’s history does not reflect a patter of violations the CSLB may just send a warning letter to the contractor. A warning letter remains a matter of record and could support more serious action against a contractor if further violations occur.

What is a citation?

If a contractor is found to have violated the License Law, the CSLB may issue a citation imposing a civil penalty payable to the CSLB as well as an order of restitution requiring the contractor to either correct deficiencies and/or pay for the damages of the complainant. Civil penalties on a single construction project, no matter the number of violations, cannot exceed $5,000. However, if a contractor is found to have contracted with an unlicensed contractor or have aided and abetted an unlicensed contractor a civil penalty of up to $15,000 may be assessed.

A contractor may appeal a citation by giving notice to the CSLB within 15 days of service of the citation by the CSLB. If a contractor appeals the citation, a hearing is held before the Registrar of Contractors who may revoke, modify, or affirm a citation. A mandatory settlement conference before the hearing may also be conducted.

If a contractor does not appeal or fails to appeal a citation within 15 days of service of the citation by the CSLB, the citation becomes final. If a contractor fails to comply with a citation it will result in the automatic suspension of his or her license 30 days after noncompliance with the terms of the citation. A contractor may contest the determination of noncompliance by giving notice to the CSLB within 15 days of service of a notice of noncompliance by the CSLB. If a contractor continues to fail to comply with a citation it will result in the automatic revocation of his or her license 90 days after the date of automatic suspension.

What is an accusation?

The most serious violations are subject to the filing of an accusation. In an accusation, the CSLB seeks to suspend or revoke a contractor’s license, and begins with the CSLB filing an accusation which is similar to a complaint filed in superior court and includes an allegation of claims. A contractor has 15 days from service of an accusation by the CSLB to file a notice of defense.

The Administrative Procedures Act (Government Code sections 11500 et seq.) govern accusations, including limited discovery of names and addresses of witnesses, statements taken, investigative reports, and documents sought to be admitted as evidence. A mandatory settlement conference before the hearing may be conducted.

At the hearing before the Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) the burden is on the CSLB to prove by clear and convincing evidence that a contractor’s license should be suspended or revoked. The rules of evidence, however, are typically more relaxed. Following the hearing, the ALJ will issue a proposed decision.

The CSLB may adopt the proposed decision in whole or in part or may enter its own ruling. The CSLB can also request that additional evidence be heard. The decision of the ALJ becomes a final decision 30 days after service of proposed decision unless reconsideration is requested.

A contractor who is unhappy with a decision can seek judicial relief by filing a petition for peremptory writ of administrative mandamus in the superior court. The peremptory writ provisions of California Code of Civil Procedure section 1094.5 govern writs and require the superior court to conduct an independent review of the record. The parties may also appeal the decision of the superior court to the court of appeal.

Contractors who lose an accusation may be required to pay the CSLB’s investigative and enforcement costs which can be in the tens of thousands of dollars. A contractor whose license is suspended may be reinstated upon proof of the contractor’s compliance with the conditions of suspension or, in the absence of such conditions, the discretion of the CSLB. A contractor whose license is revoked may not reinstate their license for a minimum of one year or up to a maximum of five years. A contractor will also be required to file a disciplinary bond.

How does the CSLB address complaints against unlicensed contractors?

Unlicensed contractors, as opposed to licensed contractors, don’t have a license which can be suspended or revoked. When the CSLB receives a complaint against an unlicensed contractor the CSLB may issue a citation including an order of abatement to cease and desist and a civil penalty up to $15,000, file a criminal action with the local district attorney’s office, or initiate injunction proceedings in the superior court.

Unlicensed contractors have 15 days from service of an administrative citation by the CSLB to appeal a citation. If an unlicensed contractor appeals a citation, a hearing is held before the Registrar of Contractors who may revoke, modify, or affirm a citation. A mandatory settlement conference before the hearing may also be conducted.

view post: What You Need to Know About Enforcement Actions by the Contractors State License Board

 

Bonney Plumbing Reach Settlement

Contractors State License Board, Bonney Plumbing Reach Settlement

Company agrees to multiple terms, including consumer restitution and new business plans

SACRAMENTO – The Contractors State License Board (CSLB) and Bonney Plumbing Heating Air & Rooter Service (Bonney), of Rancho Cordova, have agreed to a stipulated settlement to end an administrative case that could have led to revocation of the company’s three contractor licenses (#696355, #983208, and #987387), as well as the sole ownership license of long-time company owner Richard Mark Bonney (#397205).

CSLB filed an accusation against the licenses in September 2014, after receiving several consumer complaints about the company overcharging customers, failing to pull necessary building permits, misrepresenting work that needed to be done, and using unregistered salespeople when contracting for home improvement work. Several of the customers were in their 80s and 90s.

The founder and initial qualifier of Bonney Plumbing, Mark Bonney, disassociated from the company’s main license (#696355) in November 2014. The complaints were filed for work done while Mr. Bonney was responsible for the company’s operations.

Under the settlement, CSLB has agreed to withdraw its accusation to suspend or revoke Bonney’s licenses; instead, CSLB is issuing six citations, per Business and Professions Code section 7099. Those citations carry a total fine amount of $12,000, and will be disclosed on CSLB’s license look-up feature for five years.

“We are pleased that Bonney’s new owners addressed this matter promptly,” said CSLB Registrar Cindi A. Christenson. “The company has agreed to provide restitution for financially injured customers, and develop a series of business plans to avoid the potential for future contracting law violations.”

As part of the settlement, CSLB also will have increased authority to review Bonney contracts and related documents.

The Bonney Plumbing case highlights the need for consumers to understand the difference between a service and repair contract and a home improvement contract.

A “service and repair” contract is used when immediate or emergency work is needed and the total cost will be under $750, such as for a broken air conditioner or plumbing issue; and the “home improvement contract,” which is any job that is not an emergency and will cost $500 or more in combined labor and material costs.

via Contractors State License Board, Bonney Plumbing Reach Settlement

Design Professional Liens – A Blueprint

Design Professional Liens: A Blueprint

Blueprint

If you work in the construction industry in California you’re likely familiar with mechanics liens.

But there’s one other type of lien available on construction projects in California: The design professional lien.

So, here’s a blueprint of what you need to know.

What is a design professional lien?

A design professional lien, like a mechanics lien, creates a security interest in real property for services rendered by a design professional prior to commencement of construction. If the design professional is not paid, the design professional can file a lawsuit to foreclose on the design professional lien to have the property sold and the proceeds from the sale used to satisfy the amount of the design professional lien.

Analogy: A design professional lien is like the deed of trust recorded on your home to ensure you pay your mortgage. If you fail to pay your mortgage, the bank can foreclose on the deed of trust to have your house sold, and the proceeds from the sale used to satisfy the amount outstanding on your mortgage. But, with one big difference. While a deed of trust can only be recorded if the homeowner agrees to it, a design professional lien can be recorded without the consent of the property owner, which makes it a powerful payment remedy for design professionals.

On what types of projects can a design professional lien be recorded?

Private projects only.

Who can record a mechanics lien?

“Design professionals,” define as licensed architects, licensed landscape architects, registered professional engineers and licensed land surveyors who provide services pursuant to a written contract with a property owner for the design, engineering, or planning of a work of improvement.

Does a design professional, like certain mechanics lien claimants, have to serve a preliminary notice in order to record a design professional lien?

No. However, there are certain other conditions required before a design professional can record a design professional lien:

  • Written Contract with Property Owner: The design professional must have provided services pursuant to a written contract with the property owner.
  • Building Permit or Other Governmental Approval: A building permit or other governmental approval in furtherance of the work of improvement must have been obtained in connection with or utilizing the services of  the design professional.
  • Construction Not Yet Commenced: Construction of the work of improvement must not have commenced.
  • Payment Default by Property Owner: The property owner must have defaulted on payment under the contract.
  • Notice to Property Owner of Default: Not less than 10 days before recording a design professional lien, the design professional must give the property owner notice demanding payment, stating that a default has occurred under the written contract, and the amount of the default.
  • Single-Family, Owner-Occupied Residences: A design professional lien is unavailable for services provided for a single-family, owner-occupied residence in which the expected construction costs are less than $100,000.

Is there a deadline to record a design professional lien?

Yes, once construction has commenced a design professional may not record a design professional lien and any design professional lien previously recorded but not foreclosed on by filing a lawsuit becomes null and void. In addition, a design professional is required to record a design professional lien no later than 90 days after the design professional knows or has reason to know that a work of improvement will not be commenced.

Note: California Civil Code section 8306(b)(1) actually states that a design professional lien “expires and is null and void and of no further force or effect on the occurrence of . . . [t]he commencement of the work of improvement for which the design professional provided services.” “Commencement of the work of improvement” is not defined and, as such, disputes can arise as to when “commencement” occurred.

How early can I record a design professional lien?

At any time following: (1) the property owner’s default on payment under the contract; and (2) the 10-day minimum required notice by the design professional.

What information is required to be included in a design professional lien?

Here’s what information is required:

  • The name of the design professional;
  • The amount of the claim;
  • The current owner of record of the site;
  • A legal description of the site; and
  • Identification of the building permit or other governmental approval for the work of improvement.

Are there restrictions on the amount I can demand in a design professional lien?

Yes, the amount demanded in a design professional lien must be the lesser of: (1) the amount of the design professional’s fee for services provided under the contract less any deposit or prior payment made under the contract; and (2) the reasonable value of those services.

Where and how do you record a design professional lien?

A design professional lien should be recorded in the county recorder’s office of the county where the project is located. The recording fee for recording a mechanics lien varies in each county recorder’s office but is usually between $25.00 and $40.00. You should bring in the original (with your originally-signed signature) and I suggest bringing three copies to get file-endorsed for your records.

Do you need to do anything after you record a design professional lien?

Yes, two things. First, you must file a lawsuit to foreclose on the design professional lien within 90 days after the design professional lien is recorded. You must also record a notice of pendency of action within 20 days after filing a lawsuit.

Second, if a lawsuit to foreclose on a design professional lien is not brought to trial within two years after the lawsuit is filed the court may in its discretion dismiss the action for want of prosecution.

Note: You can extend the deadline to foreclose on a design professional lien if you enter into a notice of extension of credit with the owner. In that event, a design professional must file a lawsuit to foreclose on the design professional lien within 90 daysafter the expiration of the notice of credit but in no case later than one year after completion of the work of improvement.

What happens if the property owner sells the property before the design professional records a design professional lien?

Unfortunately, you can only record a design professional lien if the property owner in which you have a written contract with is the owner of the project site at the time a design professional lien is recorded. However, you would still have other remedies available to you such as a breach of contract claim.

What happens if construction commences either before a design professional lien is recorded, or after a design professional lien is recorded but before a lawsuit to foreclose on the design professional lien is filed?

As discussed above, once construction has commenced a design professional may not record a design professional lien and any design professional lien previously recorded but not foreclosed on by filing a lawsuit becomes null and void. If that occurs, a design professional has two options depending on the circumstances.

  • Option 1: If construction commences before a design professional has recorded a design professional lien, the design professional can record a mechanics lien instead.
  • Option 2: If construction commences after a design professional has recorded a design professional lien but before the design professional has filed a lawsuit to foreclose on the design professional lien, the design professional can convert the design professional lien into a mechanics lien as follows:

(1)  Within 30 days after commencement of the work of improvement, the design professional records a mechanics lien for the unpaid amount of the design professional lien.

(2)  The mechanics lien states that it is a converted design professional lien.’

Note: You cannot resurrect a “stale” design professional lien if construction commences after the 90-day deadline to file a lawsuit to foreclose on a design professional lien. For example, if you recorded a design professional lien on January 1, 2015, you would have 90 days or through April 1, 2015 to file a lawsuit to foreclose on the mechanics lien. If, by April 2, 2015, you had not filed a lawsuit to foreclose on the design professional lien your design professional lien would be considered “stale” and unenforceable. If, thereafter, construction commences on the project, you would not be able to resurrect your now “stale” design professional lien and record a mechanics lien instead.

What if the property owner partially or fully pays off the design professional lien?

If a property owner partially or fully pays off a design professional lien the design professional must sign and record a document evidencing partial or full satisfaction and release of the design professional lien.

If you are the property owner is there anything you can do to release property from a mechanic’s lien?

Yes, several things. First, if a lawsuit is not filed to foreclose on a design professional lien within 90 days after the design professional lien is recorded, 90 days after the expiration of a notice of credit, or 1 year after the project is completed, the design professional lien is considered “stale,” and you can file a petition with the court to have the design professional lien expunged. You can recover all reasonable attorneys fees incurred in expunging a “stale” design professional lien.

Second, if a design professional lien is not “stale,” you can obtain a design professional lien release bond. A design professional release bond releases the design professional lien, and the design professional then has to make a claim against the release bond. A design professional lien release bond must be in an amount equal to 125% of the amount claimed in the design professional lien and premiums are typically 2-3% of the total bond amount.

Third, you can negotiate a settlement with the design professional in exchange for the design professional recording a release of its design professional lien.

Are attorneys fees recoverable in a lawsuit seeking to foreclose on a design professional lien?

No.

A post by Garret Murai

State accuses Bonney Plumbing

State accuses Bonney Plumbing of misleading, overcharging customers

Judge to determine if top-rated company will keep its license.

Below is an article from KCRA’s website about a local plumbing company.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KCRA) —The Better Business Bureau rates Bonney Plumbing an A+, and the company is one of the biggest plumbing contractors in Northern California — but KCRA 3’s investigative team has found the business may be in danger of losing its license.

The state of California is accusing Bonney Plumbing of deliberately misleading and overcharging customers.

Two years ago Leonard Granger was looking for a plumber. He needed to replace the water heaters at two homes. So he turned to Bonney, partially he says because the company is among the biggest of its kind in the Sacramento area.

“I saw their ads on TV and I listened to it on the radio,” Granger said. “When they said, ‘You can trust us from the very beginning — we’ll get the permits, we’ll go all the way through the job and conform with the state code and county code,’ and so forth, I thought, ‘Now that’s the outfit I want to work with.’”

The company is certainly high profile. The red-and-blue vans have been a staple since Mark Bonney started the company in 1978. Bonney Plumbing now has more than 100 of those vans, and 150 employees. The business promotes itself with ads on TV. The new pro soccer stadium at Cal Expo is even called Bonney Field.

With that pedigree, Granger hired the company to install the water heaters at his farm in Vacaville and another property in Dixon.

Receipts show Granger paid more than $2,000 for one job and about $1,800 for the other. Granger said Bonney’s employees told him Dixon city code and Solano County code both required expansion tanks to be installed with the water heater. He paid nearly $450 for both tanks.

“I’m not sure what that does,” said Granger, pointing out the tanks to KCRA 3. He added that he paid at least $150 for permits and “administrative fees” on each job.
“(Bonney Plumbing) did a wonderful job,” Granger said. “I have no complaints about the work.”

But months later, that all changed when Granger called the city of Dixon and Solano County to find out why his scheduled inspections hadn’t been completed.

“I called both offices and they looked through their files (and said), ‘We don’t have no reference of the work ever being done,’” Granger said. “’No permit ever permitted or anything.’”

Not only had the person doing the work for Granger not pulled the permits, but Granger building officials say he was charged more than he should have been.

Solano County officials told KCRA 3 that a permit for a replacement water heater should cost $100, not the $150 that Granger was charged for the permit and administrative fees.

For the permit in Granger’s Dixon home, the city said it normally costs anywhere from $36 to about $40. Bonney charged him $163 for the permit and administrative fees. This was on top of the cost of replacing the water heaters.
Bonney never pulled the permit for either job.

“Oh yes, it went from something like $1,300 to $2,000 with all the additional things they added on,” Granger said. “And I wasn’t aware of it. He says that’s all required.”

So, Granger filed a complaint with the Contractors State License Board. It turns out, he wasn’t the only one in a similar situation.

“In some cases, they actually charged the consumers for the permits and then never went and pulled them,” said Rick Lopes, with the board.

The board found Bonney never pulled the permits. It also found the expansion tanks that Granger was told were required for code compliance were not required by the city or county.

The state said the Bonney employees who did the work weren’t registered with the Contractors State License Board, either.

“These people are elderly and not always in the best care of their own faculties,” Lopes said. “And we’re concerned they (are) being taken advantage of.”

The board found three other cases, all of them involving customers older than the age of 80.

“What’s concerning to us about this (is), it looks (like) the work went beyond just the repair work,” Lopes said.

In one case, the state said a 94-year-old customer paid about $3,000 more for a water heater repair than what the state’s expert thought she should have been charged.

In another instance, an 80-year-old woman had her sinks and toilets clogged. After agreeing to replace her sewer line for just more than $6,000, the complaint alleges that her son stepped in — after Bonney had nearly completed the work — and stopped them. The board said this was because a Bonney employee said it would cost another $2,500 to finish.

None of the Bonney employees in these cases were registered with the Contractors State License Board, and in all four cases, the employees failed to pull the building permits.

“We’ve got evidence that leads us to believe that, you know, laws have been broken,” Lopes said. “And it deserves us taking a look at trying to take away the license.”

The board filed an accusation, the most serious action it can take, and referred the case to the state attorney general, who will plead the case before an administrative law judge.

“Our big concern here is to make sure that the people who were harmed receive restitution and that we make sure systems are in place,” Lopes said. “(We want) to make sure this doesn’t become a business practice — that we actually have things in place to make sure these kinds of things don’t happen.”

KCRA 3’s investigative team contacted Bonney Plumbing, hoping to get the company’s response.

A spokesperson would not appear on camera, but in a phone call, Bonney CEO Jimmy Crabbe said he believes the company has been wrongly accused.

He added that it would be “inappropriate to speak about a pending investigation.”

The company did send KCRA 3 a statement saying that in the wake of the Contractors State License Board accusation, it has “dedicated a new department of three additional people to monitor and safeguard the permitting process.”

Yet, the decision is in the hands of a judge to determine if Bonney will keep its license and pay back all the customers in the complaint.

Granger received a letter from Mark Bonney, admitting the company didn’t pull the permits for his job. Bonney gave Granger a $200 check for his “inconvenience.”

Still, Granger is happy the state took his complaint seriously.

“[The state] took my case and took it all the way along with the other people — all the way to the top,” Granger said. “And I really appreciate what they are doing for the little man in this state.”

The Contractors State License Board and the attorney general are still waiting for a hearing date on the accusation.

Mark Bonney has sold the company since the investigation began, but the board is still asking to revoke his license, as well as the licenses of those employees involved in the case.

The board also wants Bonney to pay restitution to the customers listed in the accusation.

[Read more…]

State Agency Appealing to Licensed Contractors

State Agency Appealing to Licensed Contractors to Help Fill Statewide Job Openings

Department of Housing and Community Development looking for candidates with construction experience

CSLB Press Release 2/6/15 – SACRAMENTO  –  The Contractors State License Board (CSLB) is alerting California’s construction industry about a job recruitment effort underway by another state agency, the Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD). Licensed contractors may find they meet the minimum qualifications for these jobs, and may want to consider the challenges and benefits these opportunities offer.

HCD is recruiting for Housing Inspectors to work under the state job classification of District Representative (DR) I or II in locations around California. The department is responsible for the preservation and expansion of safe and affordable housing, as well as ensuring an adequate supply of housing opportunities for Californians.

Some duties of the DR I and DR II include:

  • Reviewing and approving plans for building alterations and structures;
  • Conducting complaint  investigations to ensure compliance with state and federal health and safety code regulations;
  • Providing technical code interpretations and other professional assistance; and
  • Conducting field inspections within mobile home and RV parks

Benefits include working from home; use of a state vehicle, flexible schedule, as well as medical, dental, vision, retirement plans, sick leave and vacation. The salary for the DR II ranges from $60,000 to $74,532/year. The DR I range is from $54,660 to $67,824/year.

Note: Candidates will need to take an online examination before applying for a position. More information is available on HCD’s Housing Inspector Recruitment Flyer.

 

CSLB Ineptitude

The CSLB is showing their ineptitude yet again!

CSLB IneptitudeHere are the comments to a current application under their review:

12/26/2014 – application received
12/30/2014 – app to case mgmt for flag review
12/31/2014 – printed acknldgmnt lttr to applcnt
01/15/2015 – instructions returned frm case mgmt
01/15/2015 – aiu requested app to be posted
01/16/2015 – app sent to supervisor for review
01/23/2015 – app to case mgmt for flag review
02/04/2015 – instructions returned frm case mgmt
02/04/2015 – aiu requested app to be posted
02/05/2015 – application posted
02/05/2015 – application unposted
02/05/2015 – application posted
02/06/2015 – app to aiu for investigation
02/06/2015 – enforcement

The AIU, which I thought no longer existed, requested the app to be posted on 2/4 (initially requested to be posted by the AIU on 1/5). It was posted on 2/5, then unposted, then posted again, then sent back to the AIU on 2/6?!?!

What the fence post is going on in that building? Is anybody in charge? Does anybody have a clue as to what they are doing?

I talk to people on a daily basis who are being forced to endure the ineptitude of this agency, and I feel horrible for each and every one of them. People’s livelihoods are one the line here. Feeding families, putting gas in the car to get the kids to school. And this type of ridiculous, make your head spin, cluster junk is just not acceptable.

I told this applicant… if I were you, I’d be filing a complaint with my State Representative asking them to contact this group of DCA idiots to find out what the heck is going on in that building.

What was the name of that movie where the guy throws the tv out of the window and shouts “I’m mad as hell and not going to take this anymore”?

What Can and What Can’t General Building Contractors Do

I’m often asked: What can and what can’t general building contractors do?

Under California law “B” General Building contractors have specific guidelines to follow when it comes to trades they can perform.

general building contractorBusiness and Professions Code section 7057 states that a general building contractor only can take a prime contract that requires two or more unrelated building trades, and that framing and carpentry cannot count as one of the two trades. However, a general contractor may take a prime contract that is only for framing and carpentry, and no separate unrelated trade. If a B licensee takes a subcontract, it, too, must involve two unrelated trades (not including framing and carpentry toward the two) or a B can subcontract to only do the framing and carpentry.

There is no limit to the number of unrelated trades a “B” licensee can perform on a given contract, provided that there are two or more, and that framing and carpentry don’t count as one of the two that must be performed at a minimum.

Two trades that a “B” license holder may not perform as a prime or subcontractor are fire protection and water well drilling. B&P Code §7057 states (full text below) that general building contractors may not do this work unless they qualify for and add these classifications to their license, or unless the general building contractor holds the appropriate license classification or subcontracts with an appropriately licensed specialty contractor to perform the work. The “B” also may subcontract the fire protection or well drilling portions of the project to a qualified licensee.

B&P Code 7057: General Building Contractor

(a) Except as provided in this section, a general building contractor is a contractor whose principal contracting business is in connection with any structure built, being built, or to be built, for the support, shelter, and enclosure of persons, animals, chattels, or movable property of any kind, requiring in its construction the use of at least two unrelated building trades or crafts, or to do or superintend the whole or any part thereof. This does not include anyone who merely furnishes materials or supplies under Section 7045 without fabricating them into, or consuming them in the performance of, the work of the general building contractor.

(b) A general building contractor may take a prime contract or a subcontract for a framing or carpentry project. However, a general building contractor shall not take a prime contract for any project involving trades other than framing or carpentry unless the prime contract requires at least two unrelated building trades or crafts other than framing or carpentry, or unless the general building contractor holds the appropriate license classification or subcontracts with an appropriately licensed contractor to perform the work. A general building contractor shall not take a subcontract involving trades other than framing or carpentry, unless the subcontract requires at least two unrelated trades or crafts other than framing or carpentry, or unless the general building contractor holds the appropriate license classification. The general building contractor shall not count framing or carpentry in calculating the two unrelated trades necessary in order for the general building contractor to be able to take a prime contract or subcontract for a project involving other trades.

(c) A general building contractor shall not contract for any project that includes a fire protection system as provided for in Section 7026.12 or 7026.13, or the “C-57” Well Drilling classification as provided for in Section 13750.5 of the Water Code, unless the general building contractor holds the appropriate license classification, or subcontracts with the appropriately licensed contractor.

CSLB Issues 1000000th Contractors License

It finally happened! The CSLB issued the 1,000,000th contractors license!

1000000th Contractors LicenseI find it interesting that it went to a D49 Tree Service contractor. For some reason, I always felt that such a prestigious number would go to a B or an A contractor. Someone who was put thru the license application wringer. Not to diminish this newly licensed contractor, I congratulate him, but I’m sure he had it easy with a simple application and only having to take the law & business exam.

Here is the press release:

Contractors State License Board Issues 1,000,000th Contractor License

Milestone reached 85 years after first license issued

SACRAMENTO  –  The nation’s largest industry* reached a milestone in California over the weekend as the Contractors State License Board (CSLB) issued its one-millionth contractor license. License 1,000,000 was issued on Saturday, January 10, 2015, to a tree service company in Norwalk (Los Angeles County).

“This milestone says a lot about the resiliency of the construction industry,” said CSLB Registrar Cindi Christenson. “Despite ups and downs in the marketplace, this industry is a major reason the state has thrived, especially during the past century, and why California is the envy of many other states and countries. Construction has helped our state though a depression, economic downturns, wars, natural disasters, and many other challenges.”
CSLB was created on August 14, 1929, with the support of the state’s construction industry, so the public would be protected from irresponsible contractors. CSLB began as the Contractors’ License Bureau under the Department of Professional and Vocational Standards. The Department had complete control over Bureau operations.

The Bureau changed into its current Board format on September 15, 1935, enabling appointed industry representatives to have a say in the state’s construction industry regulations. Today, CSLB is a semi-autonomous board within the state Department of Consumer Affairs.

The law that created the Board also defined three contractor categories that remain in effect today. They are “A” General Engineering, “B” General Building, and “C” Specialty contractors. In 1939, those categories evolved into the original license “classifications” and CSLB also began to examine applicants on their trade qualifications.

Beyond building homes and major infrastructure and transportation systems, California’s construction industry was especially robust in the mid-1940’s after the end of World War II, and produced remarkable and iconic structures during the 20th century that include the California aqueduct; dozens of bridges, among them the Golden Gate and Bay Bridges; multiple dams; and countless low, mid-, and high-rise commercial and residential buildings.

Detailed below are the years when each 100,000 license milestone was reached. There currently are about 284,000 licensed contractors in California, in more than 40 different licensing classifications.

The New CSLB Registrar

The New CSLB Registrar is Cindi Christenson!

The CSLB announced today who the new Registrar is that will replace outgoing Steve Sands. The press release is below.Cindi Christenson CSLB Registrar

I was hoping they’d bring in someone with some construction background, but instead they just promoted the Deputy Registrar. She is a career state employee/lawyer. At this time, we have no idea if she has any clue as to what it’s like working in the trades. Her bio does say she has a degree in mechanical engineering, but I doubt that long ago degree translates to any actual construction experience.

Did I assume this is the candidate they’d choose? Yes. Do I feel let down by the CSLB yet again? Yes. My wish was that they’d hire someone who picked up a hammer to earn a living at least once in their life. Only time will tell if she is the person to undo the massive cluster junk that is taking place in the Licensing Department.

Press Release:

Cindi Christenson Named Contractors State License Board

Registrar of Contractors

CSLB Board announces selection to replace retiring Registrar Stephen P. Sands

SACRAMENTO  –   California Contractors State License Board (CSLB) Board Chairman David Dias today announced the selection of CSLB Chief Deputy Registrar Cindi A. Christenson to serve as the board’s new Registrar of Contractors, effective January 1, 2015, following a nationwide executive search.

“We are pleased and confident with our decision to promote Cindi Christenson who, as a 33-year career state executive, has successfully demonstrated her fiscal, policy, regulation, legislative, and operational management abilities,” added Dias. “She also will have the distinction of serving as CSLB’s first female Registrar of Contractors, among the known 15 executives who have served in this position since 1929.”

Ms. Christenson has served as second in command for CSLB’s more than 400 employees and eight consumer protection offices, with direct oversight of the board’s $60 million budget, operating policies and procedures, and executive team since 2009.

Before joining CSLB, Ms. Christenson was the executive officer for the California Board of Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors from 1996 to 2009 and, from 1988 to 1996, was that organization’s senior engineering registrar. She also worked with the state Department of Water Resources as an associate mechanical engineer from 1981 to 1988.

Ms. Christenson received her juris doctorate from the Lincoln Law School of Sacramento in 2003, and is a licensed mechanical engineer after earning her Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. She and her husband, Michael, are residents of El Dorado Hills, CA.