Owner Builder Experience

owner builder experienceIn October of 2010 I wrote an article discussing owner builder experience.

In that article I stated that owner builder experience was a red flag, so to speak.

Well that was then, this is now. With the current processing systems in place at the Contractors State License Board (CSLB), ALL experience, including owner builder experience is good experience.

If you have building experience on property that you own, and you need that experience to build your portfolio that will be submitted with your application, by all means, submit that owner builder experience.

The CSLB will ask you for documentation to back it up, so be prepared to show cancelled checks, copies of receipts for materials purchased, copies of all permits, etc.

You will also need to complete the project sheet that is contained within the CSLB application. Things to be aware of on that project sheet? Do not list that most or all of the work was done by contractors or sub-contractors. The CSLB will only give you credit for the experience that you did yourself. If the project sheet makes it appear that you did some, or little-to-none of the work, they will credit you with very much experience time.

Do they accept supervisory experience? Yes they do, most owner builders are non-journeyman level people and therefore don’t have the skills to have the title of supervisor. So stating that you supervised the owner builder project will most likely not be credited in your favor.

The amount of experience time the CSLB will grant for owner builder experience hasn’t changed. If you submit a project that took you one year, they will most likely grant you 4-6 months credit. That’s because they calculate what it would take a licensed contractor to complete the same project.

If you have experience to submit that was obtained as an employee, and you want to also submit your owner builder experience, you will need to submit a work experience form for each time period and for each separate owner building project.

So owner builder experience isn’t the red flag that it used to be. Now it’s an additional way of proving your experience to the CSLB. Good luck.

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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

 

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CSLB Streamlines License Experience Review Process

Industry Bulletin released today: CSLB Streamlines License Experience Review Process

CSLB streamlines application process“SACRAMENTO — The Contractors State License Board (CSLB) is the government agency that oversees California’s construction industry and protects consumers by ensuring that license applicants have the minimum qualifications required by law. An important part of this process is verifying and investigating the experience claimed by an applicant. CSLB has a legal mandate to investigate a minimum of 3 percent of applications received for the claimed experience.

Previously, applications and experience claims were reviewed and processed by CSLB’s Licensing division and the formal experience investigations were conducted by CSLB’s Enforcement division. In some cases, this divided process resulted in a duplication of efforts and longer processing times.

To streamline the process and provide more efficient services to license applicants, the experience investigation program now has been transferred to CSLB’s Licensing division.

The transfer will not change CSLB’s policy as it relates to the experience qualifications required of applicants. As mandated by law, CSLB will continue to require four years of journey-level experience within the last 10 years immediately preceding the submission of the application. In the case of experience verification and investigation, the applicant still must provide documentation to substantiate the experience claimed on his or her application.”

Where do I begin?

Why does the CSLB continue to stick with this 3% mandate nonsense. First they created their list of “critical classifications” (not approved by the legislature), then they claim that by REQUIRING those applicants to provide documentation, they are part of the minimum of 3% of all apps received?

Let’s get Real CSLB!

The 3% law is meant to be a sampling of all apps received. REQUIRING certain applicants to provide experience documentation is NOT a sampling. Your REQUIREMENT to have applicants that are applying for one of your illegal “critical classifications” is, in itself, ILLEGAL! 3% minimum and mandatory are two completely separate things.

No Need for the Law!

It’s more than obvious that the rule of law does not pertain to the CSLB! There is a legal process that they must go through if they are going to change what is already written into law. It just floors me that they think they can just make up the rules whenever it suits them!

Smoke and Mirrors? Or a Dog and Pony Show?

I’m not sure which one we’re dealing with here. Smoke and Mirrors? The bulletin could be meant as a smoke screen of… We ARE the CSLB, this is what WE do! Or it could be a Dog and Pony show because they have no clue what they’re doing and they want us to think they do. Either way… what they’re doing is illegal. Plain and simple!

What are the qualifications of the people reviewing the applications?

That’s what I want to know. I know for a fact that one of their “investigators” has a background in marketing. The other investigator? Who knows. Unless and until they bring in people who have ACTUAL construction experience, the applicants will be paying the price.

 Experience investigation program now has been transferred to CSLB’s Licensing division

How many apps have been “reviewed” by licensing, only to be transferred to Enforcement because the “investigator” had no clue what they were reviewing? Far too many!! Who is going to back them up now?

CSLB Streamlines License Experience Review Process?

I can tell you right now, that this decision will NOT streamline the process. They are going to generate such a backlog, it’s going to be mind boggling.

Darkest before the Dawn

It’s been said that it gets darkest before the dawn, well folks, we may be approaching dawn and I fear it’s going to be a very ugly day now that the fox is in charge of the hen house.

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10 Ways Contractors Are Building With Energy Efficiency in Mind

It is not a secret for anybody in the design and construction industry that buildings alone are responsible for around 40% of the total energy consumed in the US. However, if such buildings (commercial and governmental ones) are empty for most of the year, how do they manage to consume so much energy when nobody is around?

energy efficiencyIn fact, around 70% of the time a building is unattended but still consuming energy is related to holidays, weekends, or off hours. Can you imagine that? Can you justify spending almost 3/4 of your operational costs into something that is empty? I can’t.

If you are in charge of the buildings operational costs, you should know that the three main energy spenders during a building’s off hours are heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems, lighting and plugged-in appliances. Combined, they are responsible for up to 75% of the building’s energy usage. If you lease, you also should know there is a great opportunity for you to move to a better, healthier, and more efficient building. The current the economy has created such a tight competition for commercial tenants, where, in order to stand out from the crowd, they have been forced to offer you spaces that are healthier, brighter, and sustainable.

Here are 10 ways contractors are building with energy efficiency in mind:

    1. LEED Building — Thanks to a more competitive economy and the increase of sustainability experts, contractors are having a better understating of the benefits of a green building. The result is a project that is more energy efficient.
    2. Inverting Values –  Instead of embracing the old-fashioned culture of cutting down the costs, contractors are now working with architects and designers to understand how much a building actually needs to be operational, eliminating the waste without compromising the building’s performance.
    3. Funds – With so many incentives available thru federal and local governments to promote green energy usage, building owners are now taking advantage of the extra money to invest in green technology. Consequently, contractors have become aware not only of the incentives but also the benefits of green technology.
    4. Education — More and more, manufacturers are offering workshops, seminars, and professional training to trade professionals in order to educate them on their green products, and how such products can benefit contractors, end users and the environments.

[Read more…]

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How to get a California Contractors License Part 1

In this series of posts, I’ll tell you how to get a California contractors license.

Let’s begin with the Licensing Process:

1) Who must be licensed:

All businesses or individuals who construct or alter any building, highway, road, parking facility or other structure in CA must be licensed by the CSLB if the total cost including labor and materials is $500 or more.

2) What are the advantages to having a contractor’s license?

There are many reasons to get a contractor’s license:

A. You can do jobs that are over $500.
B. You can take the customer to court if you are not paid. (Without a license, a contract over $500 is considered illegal.)
C. You can legally advertise your construction business.
D. You can pull building permits.
E. You are eligible for special discounts from many material suppliers.
F. You can join builders’ associations that offer job boards, plan rooms, and group insurance.

3) What are the licensing classifications?

The classifications are broken down into 4 categories.

1) A-General Engineering
2) B-General Building
3) C-Specialty classes
4) D-Limited Specialty classes

4) What experience is required?

At least four years of journey level experience is required to qualify for the exam. Credit is given for experience as a journeyman, foreman, supervising employee or contractor or a combination of experience and education.

5) What if I do not have four years work experience?

You may still qualify by substituting apprenticeship or technical training or other education for work experience. For example, you could receive a credit of up to two years for a college degree in business. You don’t necessarily need a college degree. Transcripts showing course work in construction technology, drafting, accounting, etc., can also be substituted for a portion of the four-year requirement.

contractors licensing faqs_1

Part 2 of how to get a California contractors license. coming soon…

 

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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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Contractors State License Board Beefs Up Public Works Unit

Contractors State License Board Beefs Up Public Works Unit

By Garret Murai, December 30, 2013

The California Contractors State License Board (“CSLB”) has announced that it’s beefing up its Public Works Unit to help ensure that contractors bidding and performing work on public works projects are complying with wage and worker’s compensation laws.

The CSLB’s worker-focused expansion follows the California Labor Commissioner’s record-breaking prevailing wage enforcement actions this year.

And if recently enacted legislation is any indication, labor law will continue to be a hot topic this coming year.

[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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CSLB News Release

A CSLB News Release was issued today.

It’s good to see the Contractors State License Board (CSLB) getting out and doing these stings. There were several of them that were bidding as B-General Building Contractors. I wonder if any of them have looked into, or attempted to get their license but couldn’t because of the new application processing procedures. And this could be a sign that the underground economy is expanding.CSLB News Release

It Was Raining Illegal Contractors at Hayward CSLB Sting OperationNine suspects cited, given court dates for contracting without license, illegal advertising.

SACRAMENTO

– A stormy day didn’t deter unlicensed contractors from converging on a Hayward home to bid for construction work during a Contractors State License Board CSLB undercover sting operation on November 20, 2013, carried out with the assistance of the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office. Nine suspects were issued Notices to Appear NTAs in Superior Court on charges of contracting without a license and false advertising.

Investigators from CSLB’s Statewide Investigative Fraud Team SWIFT posed as homeowners at the single-family home and fielded a multitude of offers to do work that included electrical, plumbing, fencing and flooring projects. It wasn’t difficult for CSLB investigators to identify those who might be illegally contracting in the area simply by checking online bulletin boards such as craigslist, business cards or flyers posted at hardware stores, and local publications, including Penny Saver.

Nine of the 10 people who showed up to give a bidwere cited. All nine face misdemeanor charges for both contracting without a license Business and Professions Code section 7028, which carries a penalty of up to six months in jail and/or a fine of up to $5,000 if convicted, and illegal advertising Business and Professions Code section 7027.1. State law requires contractors to place their license number in all print, broadcast, and online advertisements. Those without a license can advertise to perform jobs valued at less than $500, but the ad must state that they are not a licensed contractor. The penalty is a fine of $700 to $1,000.

The lone person who did not bid had a good reason – he had been cited for illegal contracting during a CSLB sting in July and avoided getting caught again.

“It doesn’t matter what the conditions – rain, cold, or even after a natural disaster – unlicensed contractors always seem to come out of the woodwork,” said CSLB Registrar Steve Sands. “And they come to take advantage of a situation, no matter if they’re qualified or not to do the job.

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CSLB Application Investigation Unit

What you can expect when you are dealing with the CSLB Application Investigation Unit

I received a call today from one of my readers. He told me that his application was sent to the Application Investigation Unit or AIU. He received the AIU letter just days before his test date. Fortunately, he made the correct choice and took the exams… because he passed! Congratulations on passing the State tests your first time.

Just to refresh you, the application is reviewed by a license technician. At this level, the tech can ask for corrections to the app, or additional experience documentation depending on if the classification is considered to be “critical class.” In the reader’s case, he was asked to send them transcripts of his 5 yr Architectural degree. The License Classification Deputy, which is usually at a minimum (or supposed to be) an Enforcement Representative, or ER1 is the person that makes the determination that his 5 yr degree was worth 3 yrs towards the 4 yr minimum requirement. So his app was posted and test date assigned.

CSLB Application Investigation Unit

Now the Application Investigation Unit steps in. [Read more…]

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