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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CSLB Spring 2015 Newsletter

The CSLB Spring 2015 Newsletter was sent out today.

Here are my highlights… or lowlights.

CSLBs Illegal Critical ClassificationsIn the Chair’s opening statement he said: “You can expect CSLB to continue its vigorous regulation of California’s construction industry, and to aggressively pursue unlicensed contractors and unscrupulous businesses through sting operations, construction site sweeps, and other strategies. We want to build more partnerships with licensees, industry groups, and government agencies to present a united front against individuals and businesses who try to hide from state laws or take advantage of consumers.”

Once again, they’re missing the bigger picture. Cause and effect, if you will. “…vigorous regulation of California’s construction industry, and to aggressively pursue unlicensed contractors…” The Contractors State License Board is playing a HUGE part in creating the large amount of unlicensed contractors with their “vigorous regulations.”

For over two years now they have been putting applicants through the wringer with their “profiling” of specific applications. They continue to quote the regulation that requires them to perform a secondary review of at least three percent of all apps received. What I’m hoping/praying will happen is that the State Legislature or an attorney will finally call the CSLB to the mat on this.

They are not randomly selecting applications as the law states, they specifically profiling and targeting these classifications. Last week I was told by a CSLB employee that they should no longer use the term “critical classifications.” I guess they realized that using this term was illegal. DUH!!! They can’t just decide on the whim of a single power hungry CSLB employee to profile specific individuals.

That’s all for now. More later.

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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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Contractors Exam Prep Kits Slashing Prices

The Contractors License Guru is slashing prices on our California Contractors exam prep materials to all time lows.

At these prices, I’m practically selling them at cost. All of my kits are now less than $300… and that’s including tax and UPS ground shipping!

We will also offer a FREE contractors license application review with the purchase of our Complete Study Kit. A $75 value.

Contractors Trade Manual with Discs

Contractors Law & Business Kit with Discs

Contractors Law & Business Kit with Discs

Order your kit today from the Contractors License Guru!

Our kits are sold by many schools and services around the State, but you won’t find these prices anywhere else.

A complete kit for the Law & Business Exam and your specific Trade exam WITH audio lectures, WITH video lectures, WITH discs covering Math and Health & Safety, WITH online practice exams for 6 months?!?! I dare you to find a lower price for this all inclusive contractors license exam prep kit.

Let’s compare!

Contractors Intelligence ~ Their DVD only kit starts at $295. That doesn’t include tax or shipping. And they only offer 3 months of online practice exam access.

Contractors State License Service ~ Here is a transcript of an online chat I had with one of their counselors:

The program will include: Home-Study Law and Trade: $495 Study Materials Two Day Crash Course One day Sat. Live Instruction on Law One day weekday self-paced on Trade Construction Math Review DVD Health and Safety DVD 30 Day Online Law and Trade Practice Question Subscription Application Preparation Guaranteed Pass

First thing that you pay is your tuition then within 90 days your application fee then 4-6 weeks your fingerprint then when pass exam within 30 days your bond and 2yr license fee.

He was very giving of this information. Too bad it isn’t all true. Giving timelines as if they were fact is very misleading. They also state their “successful Mizener Method is our exclusive home-study material” but what they don’t say is that they are re-selling the same materials I offer. Only at a much higher cost. And they only offer 30 day online practice exam access.

ContractorExam.com ~ $249 for the “Comprehensive Tutorial” for either the Law/Business exam OR the trade exam, and that doesn’t include CD’s, DVD’s, or online practice exams.

Contractors Licensing Consultants ~ Their kit costs over $450 with tax and shipping but it doesn’t include any online practice exams. My kit for the Law/Bus and Trade with online practice exams costs less than $300… Total! Out the door!

UPDATE: ContractorsLicense.com ~ Their complete kit is $399, and that doesn’t include tax!

There you have it! Now that you can compare kits and prices, it’s clear who offers the best value for your money!

Order your kit today from the Contractors License Guru!

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Contractors License Schools

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Contractors Licence Schools ad

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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 3

In this series of posts, I’ll tell you how to get a California Contractors License. On to part 3.

How do I get a california contractors license12) What happens if I fail the exams?

The Law and Trade exams are scored separately, and you can take either exam as many times as necessary for 18 months (at $50 per retake). If you don’t pass within 18 months, you have to reapply. If you passed one of the exams it still counts for up to 5 years.

13) Is Workers’ Compensation Insurance Required?

Yes. Unless the entity has no employees, then a certificate of exemption can be filed with the Board. *The law now requires that roofing contractors must have W/C whether or not you have employees.

14) What is the cost to apply for a license?

The application filing fee is $250, the Initial License Fee is $150. Both of these fees can be paid when the application is submitted. If the applicant chooses to remove his or her application after submittal, only the Initial License Fee will be refunded.

15) Can I apply for more than one classification at a time?

No. You need a license number before you can apply for an additional classification. So, for example, first you might get a B license as a general builder, and then later add an classification such as a C-10/Electrician.

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.

Coming up… How to get a California Contractors License Part 4.

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How to get a California Contractors License Part 2

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

contractors licensing faqs_2

6) HOW DO I PROVE MY WORK EXPERIENCE?

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

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

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

8) CAN I USE OWNER/BUILDER EXPERIENCE?

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

9) WHAT HAPPENS IF MY APPLICATION IS NOT APPROVED?

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

10) IS THERE AN EXAMINATION REQUIREMENT?

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

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

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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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