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!

Please follow and like us:
error

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…]

Please follow and like us:
error

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

Please follow and like us:
error

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.

Please follow and like us:
error

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…

 

Please follow and like us:
error

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

 

 

Please follow and like us:
error

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…]

Please follow and like us:
error

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.

Please follow and like us:
error

CSLB Qualifying Experience – Final Part

Conclusion to: CSLB Qualifying Experience – Final Part, I will be discussing the CSLB Qualifying Experience outline and process. Final Part

Below are a set of powerpoint slides that were shown at the recent Contractors State License Board Licensing Committee Meeting held at the CSLB office in Sacramento on October 21, 2013.

Along the way, I’ll add my advice and opinion where necessary. Click on the images to enlarge.

CSLB Qualifying Experience - Final Part

Slides #25-26

These slides are self explanatory. You should refrain from using words like; he, she, I, we, us, or your personal name. The experience should always begin with… Experience includes…. then list your daily trade duties performed in the field. Remember…. do NOT list administrative experience.

CSLB Qualifying Experience - Final Part Slides #27-28Slide #27 gives some stats of applications received, processed, rejected. I think these numbers are way too low and don’t encompass what exactly is taking place.Slide #28 states this application processing procedure ensuring that the applicant has the proper experience. Isn’t that what the test is for? Could anybody just walk in and take the exams without any trade experience? I say, let the exams be the lithmus test!After that the slide states that the application processing procedure benefits the applicant in both cost and time. This one blows me away! How is it benefitting the applicant in cost when the chance of their $300 application filing fee disappears? According to them, it happens to 34.2% of the applications every month. And that number doesn’t include the applications that were withdrawn or denied after it was sent to formal investigation.
CSLB Qualifying Experience - Final Part Slide #29States this process frees up enforcement division resources to pursue the most questionable applications. Again, who is determining what “most questionable” is and what is their criteria? The application that uses “he” or “she” in the experience outline? Then it goes on to state that it takes less time than a formal investigation… let’s see… it’s currently taking “non” formal investigations almost 2 months for the applicant to receive the reject letter, return the docs, and have them reviewed. Looks like a push to me. Either way, you’re going to be waiting 3-4 months before your application is even posted and an exam date issued. From there, you’re waiting another 3-4 weeks before you sit for your exams.

That concludes this series of posts “CSLB Qualifying Experience – Final Part” regarding the Contractors State License Board Licensing Committee meeting and powerpoint slide presentation. The bottom line is… have all of your ducks in a row before you submit your application. And I would recommend that you have me review your application and your work experience history first. Paying me $75 could save you $300 and months of heart ache.

Please follow and like us:
error

Experience Verification of a Young Journeyman-Contractor Talk

Below is a question from a young journeyman who has to provide experience verification.

Hey License Guru I have a a few questions. My story been working with my dad since I was 15 doing gen contractor stuff like framing etc part time until I graduated HS then i did it full time. I am 23 now. I did work for his friend a while back who is also a licensed contractor. Thing is I dont have much in the way of paperwork showing i did. My dad just started paying me with pay checks a few months ago. Before that he has been giving me personal checks for the last few years. I checked my app status and it says now SPEC PROJ – EXPERIENCE VERIFICATION

Are they asking for my general experience so far or what I did for my dads friend. He was the one who did my experience verification/qualification form. For whatever reason he did not list his license number instead opting to put himself as an client Saying because I listed as self employed? He guided me through the application process but I had some reservations about it. It didnt feel right but I didnt know enough to really know.

So I ask 1. What does SPEC PROJ – EXPERIENCE VERIFICATION mean?

2. If it is what I think it is what happens if my dads friend the certifer does not have any reciepts/paystubs for me working for him? I think it said letters saying I did will not suffice? What if he puts down he is a licensed contractor and includes his license if he did not included it before. Would they accept that?

3. If I get rejected what happens. How long is the waiting period for me to apply again? will they have records of all the stuff I had previously? Would they catch any contradictions between applications if on the next go round I get put as working with my dad?

4. Any other tips on what to do since Im young I’m assuming they are going to scrutinize me more than they normally would.

experience verification young journeyman

My reply:

[Read more…]

Please follow and like us:
error