Who should certify your CSLB experience

Who should certify your CSLB experienceSo who should certify your CSLB experience and who shouldn’t?

And how should your trade experience be outlined on the license application.

Other questions are:

  • How many certifiers do I need?
  • Can my dad, mom, uncle, or brother be my certifier?

These are common questions that I’m asked all the time. And although it seems like this aspect of the license application is somewhat of a daunting task, it’s really not that bad.

Who should certify your CSLB experience?

  • If you are submitting experience as an employee, do not check the “self-employed” box in Line two. Enter the employer’s business name, license number, and business address. The certifier in this case could be the license holder, officer on the license, foreman or supervisor, fellow employee, or anyone who has first-hand knowledge of that experience.
  • If you are submitting experience as self-employed, do check the “self-employed” box in Line two, and leave the employer name, license number, address boxes blank. The certifier in this case could be a business associate, another journeyman, or a contractor listed in the same classification or above. I would avoid checking the “client” box because most people are not working for the same client 40 hours a week for four years. If you are, you should probably be on the payroll.

How many certifiers do I need?

You only need one unless your certifier is not certifying a full four year period. If you have one certifier that has first-hand knowledge of only two years of experience, then you would need a second certifier to cover the remaining two years. Submitting more than one work experience page for the same time period with different certifiers is not a benefit to you. It does not increase your chances of the application being accepted (aka “posted”).

Can your dad, mom, uncle, or brother be your certifier?

Yes. As long as they have first-hand knowledge of your experience and are qualified to know if your experience is at the journeyman level. The title they would select would most likely be “Business Associate” unless they are licensed. Then you would select the Contractor box and enter their license number.

What if you can’t use your employer as your certifier because it might put your employment status in jeopardy?

You could use a fellow employee or foreman/supervisor as your certifier. Submit a letter with your application stating that you do not want the CSLB contacting the employer directly because it could jeopardize your employment. The CSLB isn’t in the business of getting people fired from their jobs.

How should your trade experience be outlined on the license application?

The application states: “In the space below, list all specific trade duties applicant performed or supervised in the classification for which he/she is applying.”

This implies that the certifier has to fill out the experience outline. Although the implication is there, it is acceptable for you to complete the experience outline and have your certifier sign-off on it.

The outline should be generic, straight forward, and trade specific. Begin the outline with “Experience includes….” Then describe the trade duties you perform/supervise on a daily basis. Do not list administrative duties. These include, reading plans, getting permits, contacting clients, etc.

So who should certify your CSLB experience and who shouldn’t?

Hopefully I’ve laid it out in a way that explains it in a clearer, more understandable way. If you have questions regarding this topic, feel free to contact me. And remember, I do offer an application review service for only $100.

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Critical Classification Application Under Review

Critical Classification Application Under ReviewI’m often asked, pretty much daily, what should an applicant do when they are dealing with a critical classification application under review.

If you are applying for the C10 Electrical, B General Building, A General Engineering, C20 HVAC, etc. and your application is under review, this email Q&A and I had with a C10 applicant might also help you or somebody you know.

Q. Based on my application you looked at, what are the odds of them accepting it without requiring more documentation?

A. Slim to none. They’ve been asking all applicants with a critical classification for additional documents.

Q. If the odds are very low they accept as is then what do they increase by if I include documentation (1099s, permits, materials receipts, tax returns) with the application on the first submittal or should I wait for them to ask?

A. You should submit any/all documents you have with the app. If they find it acceptable, they’ll schedule you for the exam. If not, they’ll ask for more documentation.

Q. I have lots of different documentation but not a fully complete timeline record of EVERYTHING. Do they show any leniency to applicants who include lots of information from the start?

A. Not that I’ve experienced.

Q. I do have enough documented experience over the last ten years to get a B but would only consider that if it was a stepping stone which made it easier to get the C-10 later. Do you think this would help me to get the C-10 if I put off applying for 2 to 3 years? Could having a B potentially work against me getting a C-10 in two to three years?

A. To get either you’ll have to provide the written documentation. The B requires experience in framing and at least two unrelated trades. The C10 could be easier to get if your experience is directly and solely related to the c10. If you were to get the B and then apply for a c10 in a couple three years, it might be harder to show at least 4 yrs of c10 experience. Also, if you have the B you cannot bid on or sign contracts for a single trade like the c10.

Q. Would it help to get sign offs on shorter term experience from more B contractors who I have done electrical for?  This goes back to the more information included with the original submittal, does it decrease the odds of them requiring more documentation / increase the chances they accept the application as is.

A. Submitting more work experience forms does not generally help or hurt. They’ve made the certifier a moot point because of the documentation requirement.

Q. Does it carry any weight if I include some projects done for homeowners and include their permits, check written to me, materials receipts, and invoice?

A. That would help. But the permit would have to be in your name in order for you to get “credit” for it.

Q. Do you think submitting a 1099 for experience where the employer box is checked is a red flag and should be used as self-employment experience instead? I know that the experience with the C-10 i work for definitely is an employee relationship rather than a contract type, I show up when he tells me to show up and act on his direction under his supervision.

A. How does the CSLB look at 1099s in this regard? As a 1099 “employee” you are working as self-employed. Only if you are on payroll for the company would you be considered an employee.

Q. Based on the letter you attached in your previous email showing request for more info to that applicant,  if I were to get a similar letter and respond with not enough documentation then would that void my application or would there be another opportunity to submit more? When does the application usually drop dead?

A. If you did not submit enough documentation to satisfy the licensing department they would send you an “options letter.” This letter gives you the option to withdraw the app, use some other qualified individual to act as the qualifier on your license, or go to a formal investigation. If you choose the formal investigation, they will send you to the exams and an investigator will be assigned. That investigator will ask you for more/the same documentation that the licensing unit asked for. The investigator will also contact your certifiers to verify your experience. If the investigator does not approve of your experience you can either withdraw the app or they will deny your app. A denial means you’d have to wait a year before reapplying, and you’d have a denial flag on your name in their system.

Q. If I do submit my application and it ultimately gets tossed then can I re apply later with other documentation? Does the CSLB keep a copy of previous applications on file and refer back to those in this sort of scenario?

A. As answered in Q6, a denial has a one year waiting period. If you withdraw the app on your own, you can reapply at any time. The new app would be subjected to the same documentation and you’d have to re-submit everything plus any new documentation.

Q. The above question sorta relates to if it helps to apply for a B first and what experience is submitted with that. I would hate to shoot myself in the foot.

A. The issue is… when you apply for an additional classification, they will not accept experience that you submitted previously for the original classification. If your contracts are only for C10 work, you’ll want to apply for the C10 with the initial license.

Q. If I do include lots of documentation with the application before they ask then could this tick off the reviewer by being overwhelmed with paperwork or does it make me look more serious and more well prepared? (sort of already asked this question above)

A. Better to send everything with the initial submittal. Saves them from having to send you a letter requesting the docs and having to sit on the application until you reply to their letter.

Q. How would you approach this if you were in my shoes?

A. Create a chronological binder with all the documentation I had, submit it with the application, cross my fingers.

Q. Do you think I should just suck it up and do another year working for the C-10 guy (1099) or would you suggest a different route to document experience if you think I should wait to have a better documented history?

A. This all depends on the documentation you have now. If you feel it shows a solid four years (minimum) of experience, I’d say apply now. If you went thru the app process and the cslb said you needed one more year, withdraw your app work another year, then resubmit everything.

Q. Guessing you have seen others in my same predicament so what has made the biggest differences for them being able to get their applications accepted?

A. How well prepared your documentation is.

Q. The C-10 guy I work for has mentioned partnering with me a few times. Would there be some mid-term benefits to going this route and getting on his license then applying for my own later? I am not sure how this works but have heard of others getting brought in that way. The guy is a bit hard to work for / with so this would be a last resort but good to know the answers if it comes to that.

A. This scenario is included in the cslb “options” letter. You could use someone else to be your qualifier. After X amount of years, you could apply to replace that qualifier on the license.

So if you find yourself with a critical classification application under review, let me know and we can discuss your specific circumstances. I offer a very affordable consultation service. Click here if you’d like to discuss what you can do.

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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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Contractors State License Board Profiling

Is the Contractors State License Board profiling out of State applicants?

CSLB Profiling

UPDATE: Turns out the application was for a “critical classification” so the CSLB was true to form in asking for additional documentation. The applicant was able to prove his experience and his exam date has been scheduled!

It seems they are. Case in point: An applicant for a non “critical classification” was required to submit pay stubs, w-2’s, contracts, permits, etc. He also submitted copies of his licenses from Washington State and Colorado. I’m sure the CSLB would say that this app was part of the minimum 3% to receive a secondary review, that would be incorrect. That secondary review is to take place after the app has been posted. This particular app hadn’t been posted. So, it stands to reason, if it hasn’t been posted and isn’t a “critical classification” why are they requiring the additional documentation and a wage determination? There is only one reason… he was profiled because of out-of-state experience. What right, rule, law, or regulation does the CSLB have to treat applicants with out-of-state differently? None, nada, zip, zero!

Furthermore, he was also told that his two out-of-state licenses could be faked and would not be used to determine his eligibility. When he asked the tech what a wage determination was, he was told “I don’t know” by the application technician.

How can the CSLB make an hourly wage determination? What is that formula? What rule or regulation gives the CSLB the authority to do this? Will they be determining what he would have made if he was working in California? Or will they determine what he should have make in the two other States?

It wouldn’t surprise me if the CSLB attempted to determine what someone should have been paid in another State. Their level of arrogance is mind boggling.

So remember my rules of engagement:

1) Do not take no for an answer

2) Do not let the CSLB push you around. Push back!

3) Insist the licensing unit processes and makes a determination regarding your app

4) Get EVERYTHING in writing

5) Submit a complaint with your State Representative if you think you’re being treated unfairly. You can find your State Rep here: http://findyourrep.legislature.ca.gov/

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CSLB Explains B General Experience

Finally, something in writing from the CSLB that explains the B General Experience requirements.

B Acceptable Experience per CSLB

And there is nothing in the law that backs this up!

What you see here was sent to a client of mine from Indiana. The highlighting was done by the Contractors State License Board application technician.

The bottom two lines clearly state [Experience in framing and at least any two…], but there is nothing in any law or regulation that states this. Now it’s always been this way, it was this way when I worked at the CSLB from 2001 to 2005, but just because it’s been this way for a long time doesn’t make it right. This is a CSLB underground reg that needs to be corrected and/or stopped!

The law does state: “The application is, as determined by the registrar, for a classification that is closely related to the classification or classifications in which the licensee is licensed, or the qualifying individual is associated with a licensed general engineering contractor or licensed general building contractor and is applying for a classification that is a significant
component of the licensed contractor’s construction business as determined by the registrar.” “As determined by the registrar” is the key phrase here. Other than in this CSLB provided text, where is it stated that Framing is a requirement?

As determined by the registrar is a dangerous statement. The registrar could “determine” any number of policies or procedures that would have a very negative effect to applicants, licensees, construction companies, and the industry as a whole. I think “As determined by the registrar” needs to be removed from the law.

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.

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Email from a License Guru Blog Reader

Below is an email from a License Guru Blog reader describing her CSLB experience review nightmare.

CSLB Red Tape“I have been following the license guru blog for about 7 months now which is just 3 months short of the full year my husband has been getting the run around from the investigator assigned to his file.  On 06/13/13 the application was submitted and from there everything that you could possibly imagine in your worst nightmare happened.  The investigator began with requests for additional documentation to support the work experience forms that were submitted by two previous employers.  So the dog and pony show began.

We would get the documents and then submit them  only to find out that she needed one more thing…something she did not request the first go around,  and on and on this went on with the two employers, her, us and then she asked for more 1099’s which led to more people being sent forms for work experience, permits, pretty much everything but them signing in blood.  Even with certified mail it seemed she just did not have all the items to find the 4 years of experience she needed.  Or her other excuse was she could not contact the people….which is totally a lie since each and every person never received phone calls from her and we checked with them and found that she had not left messages or attempted.  Finally it was to the point that she made it her mission to deny this application.  Literally a day before his test date she said you might as well just not take it since you will not be approved for your work experience anyway.  It was amazing the total inexperience and lack of support.  Something that we felt needed to be brought the attention of her supervisors.  So, we called a meeting and did just that.  We went with the full binder of documentation with all supporting documents on a job by job basis from each previous employer and we also asked for each employer prior to that day if they would mind being called on our meeting day if necessary to speak with CSLB or answer any questions.  All agreed and were on stand by.  Also realize we ended up pulling 1099’s over 12 year period…and had letters written to explain what each job entailed along with building permits and copies of receipts.  I mean we were prepared!  When we got into the meeting we sat down with the investigator and two supervisors.  She said, “So what are we hear for today?”  Of course I wanted to say are you freaking kidding me?  But I let my husband start and so he said Basically we are confused why this is taking so long to verify my work experience.  All of this information is so detailed and we have letters, permits, 1099’s, W2’s, and even have pictures (even thought she said they were not acceptable) we brought them to show the quality work he has done.  She said, “Well i have only been able to verify 14 months and there is just not all the pieces to support the rest.  So that is when I said, I have prepared this binder with all the documents that have been sent to you.  But it has been organized in a way to show each job, timeframes, support, pictures, etc.  So, I handed it to the Supervisors and they started to view and started to ask the investigator what she could not verify.  She flipped through her mess of folders, which was all scribble and unorganized and when I said what is missing with employer #1, as she looked for that persons name she said oh I don’t see that one.  Hmmm was that one returned to me?  And so the meeting rolled on with much more of this same thing…her fumbling, us proving, Supervisors eyebrows raising, questions  about why this had not proceeded, etc…finally the last straw was when she called out one employer as not being able to specify that my husband did structural work for them.  She literally put words into the employers mouth and how we know that is what transpired next.  A phone call was made per the request of her supervisors to call the employer in question (one that would support 3 years of experience) the employer got on the phone and the investigator started the manipulation right in front of us.  She said remember when i asked you about what “my husband” did for you?  I asked if he did structural work and you said that he did sheetrock and remodels.  The employer said yes that is true, so the investigator said so he did not do any structural work on the jobs he did for you.  The employer said well wait a minute i guess the way it was asked of me made me think of it as new construction work, so no our work has not been brand new construction…but the work he has done is basically taking everything on old construction down to wood and foundation and rebuilding with new electrical, plumbing and framing, pretty much the works.  Plus he has supervised a crew to do so…so yes if that means structural then absolutely.  Well, bingo it was pretty much a given that the original conversation with no one to witness was most definately manipulated.  After the phone call, I just stated that I did not feel as if the investigator really understood her job, and that she was not in any way helpful.  The Supervisor asked if I could leave the binder.  I said I was uncomfortable with that since it was clear that the investigator had obviously lost documents previously sent via certified mail and that I would prefer they make another copy of all the documents that she should already all have at the meeting today.

So they sent her to make some copies.  Meanwhile they agreed that there was plenty of documentation and that we would not need to go to the hearing….it would be moved on from the investigator to the next step.  Upon her arrival back into the room one of the Supervisors was clearly irritated with her and said they were hiring for investigator positions and wondered if I was interested in applying!  He went on to say he was very impressed by the documentation binder that was presented by us and our presentation of it.  The investigator gave out a loud scowl and stormed out of the room.  Well I guess she does not like me!

Anyway,  we are still waiting for the final paperwork to come back…we have called and CSLB says it is in final stage and paperwork should be coming to tell us about securing the bond so that the license number can be issued.  That was 2 weeks ago!  I can’t believe this and I also realize now that majority of people that have this happen would just give up.  It has been a fight and something I would not wish on my worst enemy.

Any recommendations on what to do now?  When you check his application number online it just says application denied, do not schedule exam, but that has been that way since right after his exam was scheduled and he passed!  Amazing, what to do?  I feel like this is borderline unethical, and borderline against the law!  In addition there have been 3 major jobs that have come and gone that my husband could have bid on had he been licensed.  Possible loss of income not to mention the hours spent on phone, document preparation, mail and on and on.

Very tired and very frustrated.”

I want to thank this reader for sharing her CSLB experience with us. She has shown that the CSLB does not know how to handle people who are prepared and willing to stand up to them. As of this posting, the app is still in limbo. My guess is, the CSLB is trying to resolve this without making themselves look any worse than they already do.

If you find yourself in this situation…. put together a neatly prepared, organized binder and request a meeting with the CSLB. And remember…. DOCUMENT EVERYTHING, including phone calls!! Always ask the CSLB to put their requests in writing! This is vital!

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Contractors State License Board Exams Part 2

Don't Tread On Me Flag

Continuing the conversation with Betsy Figueira regarding Contractors State License Board Exams Part 2.

Phil,

I have submitted an IT request to correct the website statement regarding exam waivers –

  • Within the last five years, you have passed both the Law and Business Examination and the trade examination in the same classification for which you are applying, and the license for which you took the examinations was not denied due to lack of work experience.

Regarding your other concerns about applicants taking examinations and then ultimately not getting licensed, that can happen under multiple scenarios – an applicant can fail to provide the required bond or workers’ compensation documentation, an applicant can fail to be cleared by the Criminal Background Unit, an applicant can fail to provide requested experience documentation, etc.  As a governmental agency that processed tens of thousands of applications annually, we have procedures that address the vast majority of our applications – allowing them to test as soon as possible to avoid delays in licensure… which I believe most of them are appreciative of.

If you know of an applicant who does not want to take the examination until all of his/her other licensure requirements have been met, please have them submit a written request to me to have the examination process set aside while the entire rest of the licensure process is complete.  I will consider the request.  Of course, even if such a request is granted, we would still need to confirm that all of the licensure requirements are still valid after the applicant has passed the examinations and is at the point of licensure issuance.

Also, be please be aware that pursuant to CCR Section 816 (c), “nothing in this Rule shall be interpreted to limit the Registrar’s authority to require an applicant to provide any other information necessary to determine the applicant’s qualifications.”

Betsy Figueira CSLB, Licensing Division Manager 916-255-3369

My opinion (which I didn’t share with Ms. Figueira):

Contractors State License Board Exams Part 1

Website update:

It’s a banner day when the CSLB actually admits (almost) to making a mistake. Requesting to have the website updated to remove the “license denied due to lack of work experience” is a victory. This non-admittance to a mistake basically proves that cslb staff makes decisions on a whim without regards to the law. Somebody at a high level had to request that text be added to their website.

My “other” concerns:

Her list of why licenses are denied is correct, but she was side-stepping my comments/concerns that certain classifications are being unfairly targeted. Again, there is no specific rule, regulation, or law that gives the cslb the authority to do this.

Her comment about “procedures” for the thousands of applications they process a year is, well, ridiculous. Again, she side-stepped my comments that there are many instances, rules, regulations, laws that state that the applicant will be sent to the exams AFTER they have determined that the applicant meets the minimum requirements. Obviously they follow the procedures they want, and ignore the rules, regulations, and laws they don’t want.

She believes most of the applicants are appreciative. Granted, I do not speak with every applicant who has been sent to the exams and their app to investigation. I can only speak to the number of people who have called me with questions about what they should do. And listen to how they are unhappy with how they’ve been treated by the cslb. So unless Ms. Figueira has taken it upon herself to speak with every applicant, or even some of them, about how they feel regarding the run-around these applicants are receiving, her “belief” is, at best, a guess on her part.

CCR Section 816 (c):

This is my all time favorite regulation! “nothing shall be interpreted to limit the Registrar’s authority.” If you are a cslb employee or manager in licensing, this means you have carte blanche to do whatever you want. How much better can it get if you are a State agency? They actually wrote a regulation that says they can make up the rules on a daily basis. Today ~ they have 8 critical classifications that they will scrutinize beyond belief. Tomorrow ~ you might have take a lie detector test, or make a personal appearance in front of an experience review committee. If the Registrar’s authority is limitless, where does it end?

We live in a democracy! A democracy I volunteered to protect. How can we allow any governmental agency the power of limitless authority?

If you would like to comment on Contractors State License Board Exams Part 2, please feel free to use the comment link below, or send me an email. If you’d prefer to remain anonymous, just let me know.

Navy history…. The flag above is the first Navy Jack.

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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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How to Get a California Contractors License Part 5

IN THIS SERIES OF POSTS, I’LL TELL YOU HOW TO GET A CALIFORNIA CONTRACTORS LICENSE. HERE IS PART 5.

Now lets discuss different titles or positions and business entities:

RME or RMO Contractors21) What is the difference between an RMO and RME?

RMO or Responsible Managing Officer is the qualifier for the license and may or may not hold any ownership in the company. An RME or Responsible Managing Employee is the qualifier for the license and may not hold any ownership in the company.

22) Can an RMO be a qualifier on more than one License?

Yes. An RMO can be the qualifier on up to 3 corporate licenses as long as he or she holds at least 20% ownership in each company. The CSLB has passed a new law giving them more enforcement power over qualifiers who qualify more than one license. Those qualifiers need to have an active role in all projects done under the licenses for which they qualify. If enforcement action is taken against a qualifier on any one license, it will have a negative effect on every other license that he or she qualifies.

23) Can an RME be a qualifier on more than one License?

No. An RME can only qualify one license at a time. He or she may have a Sole Owner license but it must be inactive while the person is acting as an RME. By law, an RME must work a minimum of 32 hours a week.

24) Can an individual have more than one license?

Yes. An individual can have as many as 10 Sole Ownership licenses.

25) Can a Sole Owner also be an RMO or Qualifier on another License?

Yes. An individual can be an RMO on another license as long as he or she holds at least 20% ownership or more of the company. As I stated in #22, if you are going to qualify three licenses at the same time, be careful not to spread yourself too thin as you will be required to have an active participation in all projects done under all licenses you qualify.

The finale, Part 6, coming soon!

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How to Get a California Contractors License Part 4

IN THIS SERIES OF POSTS, I’LL TELL YOU HOW TO GET A CALIFORNIA CONTRACTORS LICENSE. ON TO PART 4.

Contractors State License Board Wall License

16) DOES THE CSLB RECOGNIZE LICENSES FROM OTHER STATES?

Yes. The CSLB has reciprocity agreements with Utah, Nevada and Arizona. It is possible to get a CA license if you hold a license in one of these states by only having to take the CA Law & Business exam. The key is, you must have been licensed in the other State for a minimum of 5 out of the last 7 years. Note, if you are applying for one of the 8 critical classifications, be prepared to submit additional experience verification documents with your application.

17) WHAT HAPPENS IF I GET CAUGHT OPERATING WITHOUT A LICENSE?

It is a misdemeanor in CA, and the fines can range from $200 to $15,000. A citation would be issued that would remain at the Board for up to 10 years. So if or when you apply for your license, your application will be delayed for an extended period of time while they review the circumstances of the citation.

18) AM I REQUIRED TO BE FINGERPRINTED?

Yes. Fingerprints are required for all new applications, adding officers to an existing license, replacing the qualifier, etc.

19) WHAT IF I HAVE A MISDEMEANOR CONVICTION FROM YEARS AGO? CAN I STILL GET MY LICENSE?

Yes. You can still get your license but the application processing time will be greatly increased. All fingerprints go through the CA Department of Justice and the FBI before being sent to the CSLB. At the CSLB the records will be reviewed by the Criminal Background Unit or CBU. At the time of this video, the current backlog in the CBU is around 2 months. Which means that receiving a test date and obtaining your license could take as long as 4-6 months.

20) ARE THERE ANY FINANCIAL REQUIREMENTS TO QUALIFY FOR A LICENSE?

Yes. The CSLB requires that you maintain at least $2500 in working capital. There is a check box in the application that ask’s you this question. But the CSLB does not require you to provide banking information to prove this.

Stay tuned… Part 5 coming soon!

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