CSLB AIU Vortex

The CSLB AIU Vortex continues to spin. And it’s not a pretty sight!

I received an email from one of my readers today and wanted to share it with you. Our conversation went as follows.

cslb aiu vortexMy fiancé has been undergoing the investigation process with the AIU and it’s looking as though they are going to deny his application. His prior employer has cooperated fully with the investigator but they seem to only want w-2s, paycheck stubs, and so forth. I was wondering if you had any knowledge or experience with the appeal process. How long does it take and so forth? Also, can you recommend any lawyers that have experience with this process? If we plan to go that route.

I replied:

Yes, the joys of dealing with the CSLB and the AIU. Did they allow you to submit any other forms of experience verification?

In the last year, I haven’t heard of anyone going thru the appeal process. The CSLB says it can take 4-6 months. I don’t have a referral at the ready, but I can ask my contacts if they have an atty referral for the appeal process.

She replied:

Yes, they gave their basic cookie cutter letter stating that we could send in invoices and estimates and materials receipts and so forth. Once we sent that paperwork in, they contacted my fiancé’s prior employer and sent him a paper to fill out verifying work experience and pay. After all that, the investigator said that the information was not enough and that he needed verifiable documents such as w-2’s, pay check stubs, and time cards. I have reviewed the CSLB’s website and found proof that if the employer verifies then that should be enough but I’m not sure if they are just forcing these investigators only to ask for w-2’s. If it turns out that the application does get denied, we are definitely thinking of appealing. It has been a long process and it seems pointless to give up now. [Read more…]

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Contractors License Schools

I thought I’d take a moment to discuss Contractors license schools.

Any internet search of the phrase “contractors license schools” will bring up dozens of businesses that offer to help you pass your State contractors license exams. What you’ll find at some of the so-called schools is that they offer a “2-day crash course.” At this 2 day crash course you will review the materials they shipped to you when you signed up. This means you will have been studying at home for a period of time, then you’ll take two days off of work (unpaid most likely) and review the same materials you’ve been studying at home.

Now, maybe it’s just me, but I just don’t see the advantage of spending two days, off the job unpaid, in a “classroom” reviewing what I’ve been studying at home?

A few years back, a friend of mine interviewed for a job at one of the bigger “contractors license schools” and was offered a position. He had a teaching credential and was a substitute teacher here locally. What’s interesting is that he had ZERO construction experience. He ended up not taking the job. But it makes me wonder, who do they have “teaching” these 2-day crash courses? If, by chance, the instructor does have construction experience, does he have experience in all of the 43 trade classifications? Highly unlikely. So, that means that the instructor may not have any experience in your trade. So what benefit is it to you to sit in this room for 2 days? I can’t see a single scenario that makes it beneficial to anyone.

Another thing about the contractors license schools that most aren’t aware of is that they only offer books and classes on the Law & Business exam. This has always bewildered me. Why only offer assistance for one part of the process?

Yesterday I was at the Contractors State License Board dropping off some documents for a licensee where I noticed a 3-ring binder on the seat of the car next to me. It was from one of these contractors license schools. Showing from under the binder was a scratch paper with numbers and next to the numbers were the letters A, B, C, D… as if this applicant had memorized the answers to his practice tests. Now I have always said… Do not memorize the answers to your practice tests, but looking at this piece of paper I couldn’t help wonder… is that what this “school” is telling their customers? I hope not, because if they are they are doing their customers a great dis-service.

I recently received an email solicitation from one of the schools. See the image below. They offered the 2-day class, Law/Bus and trade prep materials with DVD’s, an offer to “process” your paperwork (I don’t know what that means), Individual help and attention, and a 100% money back guaranty. Not to mention the “with this price of $345 you will get” heading.

All of that sounds wonderful, but is it the best value for your money? Let’s break it down.

  • 2-day class – we discussed this above
  • prep materials with DVD’s – I offer a complete kit with law/bus & trade with dvd’s and cd’s and online practice exams for less money
  • “process” your paperwork – does this mean they’ll complete your app or review it or submit it to the CSLB? Can’t tell. If you purchased my kit, I’d review your application and submit it to the CSLB at no additional charge, and for less money
  • Individual help and attention – that should be their everyday business practice, not something special. I treat all of my clients like they are the only client I have. And, if you’re sitting in their classroom with a bunch of other guys, what kind or individual help and attention are you getting?
  • 100% money back guaranty – I looked all over their site and could not find the details of the guaranty. If it’s anything like guarantee’s from other schools, you’ll have to jump thru about 12 hoops before you see your money again.
  • What you get for $345 – you get tax and shipping too! So the total price for the offer is actually 367.28!

My complete kit, with dvd’s and cd’s, and free app review, and individual attention cost less than that! Plus, they don’t have a former CSLB application technician on staff! My experience and background alone is priceless… and that is included in everything I provide.

Bottom line… don’t believe the fancy email, phone call, or post card solicitation you receive. There are better choices to make.

Contractors Licence Schools ad

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CSLB Application Processing Part 2

Here we are again, CSLB application processing part 2, where I received a screen shot of an application timeline.

This poor guy is being bounced around like a golf ball in a blender. You can see in the image below that the application was submitted on 4/30/13. After being sent to the case management unit for a flag that was cleared on 7/17, almost three months later, the app was then sent to a licensing supervisor on 8/1. I’m assuming this was either a classification clarification or experience related. On 8/5 the supervisor returned the application to the technician with instructions to reject the app to the applicant for a correction. Then on 9/18, the application was sent back to the licensing supervisor for review again. I’m assuming to review the classification clarification or experience outline. The application was also sent to a “License Deputy” for review. Again, I’m assuming it’s for experience. On 10/1 the app is returned to the application technician with instructions to post the app and schedule him for the exams.

You would think that should be the end of it. It’s been to a supervisor twice and to a “licensing deputy.” But no… the app is referred to the Application Investigation Unit or AIU on the same day they schedule the exams. This is the part that really fries my shorts. Why do they insist on scheduling applicants for the exams AND send them to the AIU to verify their experience? If they are not qualified for the exams, and they require the applicant to prove his experience with the AIU, why send them to exams in the first place?

Moving on, the application is “out for investigation” on 10/7, but an “investigator” in the AIU will take at least a month before he/she contacts the applicant. On 10/22 the applicant passes both the law and business and trade exams.

Here we are, it’s January 15th, and the application is still “out for investigation.” Full disclosure… the applicant hasn’t told me yet what communication he’s had with the investigator, if any. So it could be that he’s submitted documents to be reviewed and is waiting for a determination to be made. Or, he may still be waiting to hear from the investigator.

Bottom line… anybody could look at the process this application has gone through and wonder if the Contractors State License Board is truly inept or just dysfunctional. Why did a “licensing deputy” review and apparently approve the application and then sent it to enforcement? Does the “licensing deputy” have the necessary training and experience to adequately review an application? The timeline below suggests, No.

If you find yourself in this situation, contact your State Assembly Member’s office and file a complaint with them. You can also file a complaint directly with the CSLB. Click on this link to download the pdf. CSLBClientServicesComplaintAndSuggestionForm I know that is kind of like asking the fox to look over the hen house, but at least the Registrar’s office is aware of what’s going on under his nose.

CSLB Application Processing Part 2

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How to get a California Contractors License Part 2

In this series of posts, I’ll tell you how to get a California Contractors License. This is part 2.

contractors licensing faqs_2

6) HOW DO I PROVE MY WORK EXPERIENCE?

You ask someone in the building trades who has direct knowledge of your work to sign a “work cert” (Certification of Work Experience). You do not need a work cert for each and every job. One person may sign for all four years of required experience. The best way, according to the Contractors State License Board, is to use employed experience and to provide pay stubs proving that experience.

7) CAN I QUALIFY WITH “SELF-EMPLOYED” EXPERIENCE?

Yes! But be prepared to show proof of your experience. The CSLB is reviewing/investigating more and more applications, especially the 8 “critical classifications.”

8) CAN I USE OWNER/BUILDER EXPERIENCE?

Yes, but I recommend that you don’t.  O/B experience is reviewed separately to evaluate the amount of experience time you will be granted. On average, the time you are granted is at least ¾ of what you submitted.

9) WHAT HAPPENS IF MY APPLICATION IS NOT APPROVED?

The application will be returned with a letter asking you to supply additional information or make corrections. You will have 90 days to comply with the letter.

10) IS THERE AN EXAMINATION REQUIREMENT?

Yes. The qualifying person must pass the Law & Business and Trade exams, unless he or she meets the requirements for a waiver of either one or both exams. If you’ve taken and passed an exam within the last five years, you do not need to re-test. If you are applying for reciprocity, you’ll only have to take the law and business exam.

Stay tuned for How to get a California Contractors License Part 3.

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CSLB Application Processing

Has the CSLB Application Processing system completely run afoul?

I apologize if I spend too much time discussing this topic, but it really fries my shorts when State agencies abuse their power.

I received an email from an applicant who applied to add a classification to his existing license. You will see in the image below that the CSLB Licensing Unit requested additional documentation. The applicant submitted the documentation, it was accepted, the application was posted and he passed the trade exam. Six days after passing the exam, his application was sent to the infamous Application Investigation Unit, or AIU. Why??

The AIU is going to ask for the same documentation. Doesn’t this suggest that the Licensing Unit is incompetent? They chose to take on the role of experience verification experts. Are they incompetent? Do they not feel that they can perform these duties sufficiently and accurately? They did send the application to the investigation unit after they approved his experience documents, so that suggests the answer is No.

Being a Navy vet, I’m used to following set rules and guidelines. The CSLB needs to create a set of (reasonable) rules and guidelines and follow them. Making up the rules as they go along is wrong for any business, but for a State agency to do it is just flat unacceptable!

CSLB Application Processing

 

 

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CSLB Work Experience Seminar Part 2

CSLB work experience seminar part 2 includes pictures from the meeting and the video taken by the CSLB. I’m in the front row wearing the blue shirt.

I asked at one point if every critical classification applicant would be required to provide additional verification documents. Rick Villucci didn’t exactly answer the question. But I got the feeling that the answer is yes. If you are applying for a critical classification, you WILL be asked to provide that additional experience.

CSLB experience seminar

CSLB Work Experience Seminar Part 1

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CSLB Application Scrutiny Continues

The CSLB application scrutiny continues to be a hot topic with many people I’ve heard from recently.

CSLB Application Scrutiny ContinuesThis week alone, I’ve heard from five people whose applications are being hit hard by the licensing and enforcement units. These applicants have submitted 100’s of documents to prove their experience only to receive a withdrawal request letter in their mailbox. One applicant received a letter asking for the additional documents AND the withdrawal request letter, thing is, he HAD submitted his additional documents with his application. So much for streamlining the process.

[Read more…]

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CSLB Application Seminar

Yesterday, 12/4/13, I attended a CSLB application seminar where they discussed application procedures.

Many license schools and services were invited to attend, or participate online, a seminar that covered application procedures for all classifications including the eight on the critical classifications list.

Some of the information was basic, and since the room was mostly full of people who prepare license applications for a living, some of it was redundant. But that’s ok, they had to start somewhere.

CSLB Application Seminar

There was one common thread to the conversation; the CSLB would “prefer” to receive applications from people who have experience obtained as an employee of a licensed contractor. In a perfect world, that would spectacular! Everyone’s job would be easier, including the applicant. But we don’t live in a perfect world, and therefore, there are plenty of applicants who have gained their experience as “self-employed.” Another tidbit of info that was given was that a handyman is not a journeyman. While that may be true by definition, the CSLB does accept self-employed experience. And if that self-employed experience was obtained by following the law and only doing work that was under the $500 limit for labor and materials, then how could a handyman obtain the necessary experience to allow him/her to obtain a license? So, it seems, that even though they will accept self-employed experience, as allowed by law, they’d “prefer” not to. [Read more…]

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How to fill out the CSLB Work Experience Form

How to fill out the CSLB Work Experience Form. The first step toward receiving a California Contractors License.

2013 has been full of changes when it comes to the CSLB License Application. It used to be the experience outline could make or break your application. Now, it’s only a minor player for eight of the 43 license classifications.

Although, a properly formatted CSLB work experience form for all 43 classifications is important, preparing a proper experience outline for the eight critical classifications is just the first step.

How to fill out the cslb work experience form

[Read more…]

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Contractor Talk Post

Wow…. here’s a post/question/comment/complaint I received in the ContractorTalk Forum. I’m am so floored by how the CSLB is treating applicants, I’m beside myself. Read on…

Phil – I think you’re right about flagging Asian last names. As I explained to you in my private message, I’m being asked for all kinds of documentation for my Class B. And, I have an Asian last name. Go figure.

They didn’t take my business classes, algebra, advanced math or my CA real estate license and appraisal courses into consideration at all. First I was told that they can’t call my employer out of state, so they want 1099’s and check stubs. Fine. Sent them. The Licensee Deputy approves and then they send me to an Experience analyst. She tells me that the 1099’s are useless, because I, “could have earned the money doing anything”. So why did you ask me to hunt down an old, handicapped prior employer 3,000 miles away to get the darn things?

She tells me that my application shows c6 work and not Class B. She sends me a form asking if I want to withdraw my application. I emailed Andrea S. and asked her since when cantilevering decks, framing additions, siding and roof work is millwork. She said it was millwork and not general building! How ’bout that? She asks me to provide permits and contracts. I explain that as a journeyman employee I’m not required to have either, and that legally my contractor employer isn’t even required to keep those docs for more than 3 years. They then asked for client contacts, which I don’t have as an employee.

She says that I need to go back to the elderly, sick employer 3,000 miles away and get a notarized letter from him outlying my duties. I included hours worked, duties by year for the 10 years through apprenticeship (4yrs) and journeyman level (6 years). What else should he document in the letter?

I do think I’m being targeted. When I explained that I felt that shuffling me from department to department for 10 months now is excessive, and I don’t understand why they ask for documentation that they then tell me they can’t use (like the 1099’s and pay stubs), I’m told that I need permits and the notarized letter from my certifier. Wasn’t his certification enough? No, because he was a foreman and not a contractor. Again, I have no legal reason to have permits as a journeyman. I think they just don’t want to license me – possibly because I’m Asian.

I even included letters from people who can verify that I’ve done extensive work on my own homes. I offered to send in 200 material receipts to verify the work and was told that they weren’t needed. What else can I send in to help with this?

contractor talk post

My reply:

I may actually be speechless!!! Oh wait… no I’m not.

Your experience with the cslb just floors me!! How incompetent can one state agency be? Seriously?!? You give them what they ask for, what they have listed in their ridiculous list of acceptable items, then tell you they won’t accept them. I truly wonder (often) why the patients are running the asylum!

My advice is to contact your State Representative! Show the rep the letter the cslb gave you with the options. Show the rep what you provided, per their list, and show the rep the response you received from the cslb.

It has been pointed out to the Board, directly, that the licensing unit is asking for docs that most applicants aren’t required by law to need or obtain. Yet, they keep asking for them. Then they have the nerve to reject those docs.

I wish I had proof in hand that the cslb is profiling Asian applicants, but they are just smart enough not to have put anything in writing… as far as I’m aware. I was just told that the license techs were verbally told to pull apps with Asian last names. So suggesting to a State Rep that you’re being profiled would most likely be flat out rejected by the cslb. For me… I’d mention it anyway. Let the cslb hear the accusation so they know what they’re doing is out in the public.

Like I said… I was almost speechless.

If you feel you’ve received biased, unfair, ridiculous treatment from the CSLB, let them know about it. Submit this form. CSLB Client Services Complaint Form

via California Licensing – Page 70 – Contractor Licensing – Contractor Talk.

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