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 Streamlines License Experience Review Process

Industry Bulletin released today: CSLB Streamlines License Experience Review Process

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

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

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

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

Where do I begin?

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

Let’s get Real CSLB!

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

No Need for the Law!

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

Smoke and Mirrors? Or a Dog and Pony Show?

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

What are the qualifications of the people reviewing the applications?

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

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

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

CSLB Streamlines License Experience Review Process?

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

Darkest before the Dawn

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

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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 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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CSLB Application Processing Part 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CSLB Application Processing Part 2

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CSLB News Release

A CSLB News Release was issued today.

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

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

SACRAMENTO

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

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

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

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

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

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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…]

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CSLB Qualifying Experience Part 2

To continue in this series of posts, I will be discussing the CSLB Qualifying Experience outline and process. Part 2

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 Part 2 Slides #9-10

#9 is the basic app review process. Nothing has really changed here.

#10 states they will determine if critical class or any other experience issue exists. There are 8 classifcations that are currently on the critical class list. If you are applying for one of these classifications, it should/could/would trigger the verifiable experience documentation letter.

The critical classes are: A-Gen Engineering, B-Gen Building, C-10 Electrical, C-16 Fire Supression, C-20 HVAC, C-36 Plumbing, C-38 Refrigeration, and C-57 Water Well Drilling.

 CSLB Qualifying Experience Part 2 Slides #11-12

#11 The 90-day rule is unchanged. You’ll have three months to prepare and submit your qualifying experience. But, if you’ve read my blog ahead of time, you should have already prepared your qualifying experience documents.

#12 If the newly submitted documentation (I think they are assuming that no one will submit their documentation when they first submit their license application? This may be because they aren’t telling anyone in the industry that they’ve been changing the rules) it is reviewed to determine if it is sufficient. As before, what is the CSLB’s definition of “sufficient”?

CSLB Qualifying Experience Part 2  Slides #13-14

#13 is suggesting that certifiers of applicants for critical classes are being treated differently. The law only requires that the certifier have first hand knowledge of the experience. The application allows for certifiers to be journeyman, fellow employee, and supervisor. So why does a critical class change that? This confuses me as the law is clear and the choices on the application are simple.

#14 is a big one for me, and should be for you too if you have an employer who doesn’t want you to get your own license. This happens quite often, and the CSLB is putting many applicants employment status at risk. As I stated with #13, the law is clear and the choices on the app are simple. You should be able to use your experience as an employee of a licensee, have your sup/foreman/co worker certify your experience, without putting your job at risk. I think this could border on employee rights violations or civil rights violations.

 CSLB Qualifying Experience Part 2  Slides #15-16

#15 so if the employer does not confirm your experience, and has subesquently fired you for applying for your own license (it happens!), they’ll allow you to submit additional documentation. I have talked to many who have sent them everything they had when first asked for it, so I’m confused as to why the CSLB thinks the applicant will all of a sudden come up with more.

#16 is pretty straight forward, but I do know that they have been accepting, or have accepted in the past, “testimonials” from people who know the applicants experience.

So there is part 2 of the CSLB Qualifying Experience Series. There will be at least one more, if not two, in the series. Stay tuned.Click on the following link to download a PDF of the acceptable CSLB Qualifying Experience list.Acceptable CSLB Qualifying Experience

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Renting Your Contractors License – Yes or No?

Is Renting your contractors license Illegal… Not if you are following the law!

renting your contractors licenseFor years, I have been asked if it’s okay for someone to become a qualifier on a license for a company who couldn’t otherwise obtain a license on their own.

I’ve always answered by quoting the Business and Professions Code that covers this issue. I also stress that they must have first hand knowledge of the work being done under the license they are qualifying. This direct supervision could be in the form of on-site visits, progress reports, photo’s, etc. You, as the qualifier, are responsible to ensure that the work being done meets plans, specs, and is to code. By not doing this, you are putting yourself at great risk of losing your personal assets, and being removed from any other license you may be qualifying. My recommendation is to do on-site visits. If the CSLB were to receive a complaint about a project that you are required to oversee, you better have your i’s dotted and t’s crossed. The only way to effectively do that is to make site visits.

Although the article below is stating that it is illegal to “rent” your license, it also states that you can qualify up to three licenses per year if you show that you own at least 20% ownership in that company. The CSLB shouldn’t ask a question, answer it with a No, then tell you the law says yes. Mixed signals only confuses the issue.

What the CSLB doesn’t do, is require that you prove you actually own 20%. You’re only required to list 20% on the license application. When I complete a clients application, I notify them of the 20% rule, but there is nothing to keep the company and qualifier from having a side letter stating that the qualifier doesn’t own any voting shares. That agreement will also state what the compensation will be to the qualifier. The qualifier is obviously not going to work for free, so compensation will be part of that agreement. I’m not sure why the CSLB has chosen to use the word “rent” other than to attempt to keep qualifiers from doing what the law allows.

In the case cited in the article, the qualifiers who accepted payment but didn’t maintain direct knowledge of the work being done did deserve to be punished. But I feel the CSLB needs to either have more control (lol me suggesting the government should have more control is funny) over qualifiers who qualify more than one license, or they should change the law. Doing nothing but catching the bad guy after the fact is not following their mandate to protect the consumer… Don’t Stop Now…There’s More!

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