Get it in Writing

Get it in Writing

get it in writing

How many of you have been called by the CSLB or were able to speak to a “classification deputy” or application technician and were told (over the phone) that you needed to provide certain information or documentation?

Get it in Writing

If you were told to provide information or documentation (over the phone), I suggest you require them to put it in a letter and mail the request to you.

Get it in Writing

I was told by an applicant today that he was asked to provide his web address. That’s right, his web address. What could they possibly want that for? They won’t accept pictures or your work, or affidavit’s from clients, customers, or co-workers. So why would they want to look at your website. If anything can be fabricated… it’s a website!

Get it in Writing

Why does the CSLB prefer to make these ridiculous requests over the phone? Deniability! “Oh, we never said that!” If you get it in writing, they can’t deny it. If they refuse to send their requests in writing, they don’t have the right to ask in the first place.

Get it in Writing

The CSLB is so bent on documentation they should play the same game their forcing everyone else to play. You want my web address? Send me a written request. Don’t let them make the rules. You paid your application fee, and there is nothing in the rule book that says you can’t ask for what you want, and nothing in the rule book that says they can’t put their requests in writing.

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CSLB Waiver Application

  • Q. Under what law or regulation does the CSLB have the authority to state the last line of the third bullet point?

  • A. None!

Under what circumstances am I not required to take the examination?

You are not required to take the examination if the qualifying individual meets one of the following requirements:

  • You are currently a qualifier on a license in good standing in the same classification(s) for which you are applying;
  • You have been a qualifier within the past five years in the same classification(s) for which you are applying;
  • 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.

CSLB Applying for a license waiver

The webpage above is located here: http://www.cslb.ca.gov/Applicants/ContractorsLicense/NoExamApplication/ApplyingForLicense.asp

What they are saying is that if you pass your exams and the application that you submitted to take those exams was denied due to lack of work experience, those passing exam scores then become invalid.

Exam waivers fall under Business and Professions Code 7065. There is nothing in that regulation that states “and the license for which you took the examinations was not denied due to lack of work experience.” So for the CSLB to put this on their website is overstepping at the least, a violation of law at the most.

  • Q. So why have they been posting applications and scheduling them for the exams, then referring them to enforcement (AIU) for investigation of experience?
  • A. So that they can come back later and tell you that your passing test scores are no longer valid when you reapply for your license.

Once again, it shows the CSLB has no regard for the rule of law. They are akin to the POTUS, as he said in the Rose Garden the other day… “I do what I want!”

It’s time for the Contractors State License Board to wake up and realize that they don’t get to make arbitrary laws, rules, and regulations.

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CSLB Application Denials and the Appeals Process

Let’s take a minute to discuss CSLB Application Denials and the Appeals Process.

application denialIt’s a boring subject I know, but it’s good information to have if you find yourself stuck in the AIU vortex.

If your application is denied by the Application Investigation Unit, Section 485 kicks in.

§ 485. Procedure upon denial

Upon denial of an application for a license under this chapter or Section 496, the board shall do either of the following:

  • (a) File and serve a statement of issues in accordance with Chapter 5 (commencing with Section 11500) of Part 1 of Division 3 of Title 2 of the Government Code.
  • (b) Notify the applicant that the application is denied, stating (1) the reason for the denial, and (2) that the applicant has the right to a hearing under Chapter 5 (commencing with Section 11500) of Part 1 of Division 3 of Title 2 of the Government Code if written request for hearing is made within 60 days after service of the notice of denial. Unless written request for hearing is made within the 60-day period, the applicant’s right to a hearing is deemed waived. Service of the notice of denial may be made in the manner authorized for service of summons in civil actions, or by registered mail addressed to the applicant at the latest address filed by the applicant in writing with the board in his or her application or otherwise. Service by mail is complete on the date of mailing.

Added Stats 1972 ch 903 § 1. Amended Stats 1997 ch 758 §

The key here is that 60 day deadline to file your appeal request. I would suggest filing your appeal as soon as possible to get the appeal process started.

From here Section 487 applies and it outlines the Hearing process.

§ 487. Hearing; Time

If a hearing is requested by the applicant, the board shall conduct such hearing within 90 days from the date the hearing is requested unless the applicant shall request or agree in writing to a postponement or continuance of the hearing. Notwithstanding the above, the Office of Administrative Hearings may order, or on a showing of good cause, grant a request for, up to 45 additional days within which to conduct a hearing, except in cases involving alleged examination or licensing fraud, in which cases the period may be up to 180 days. In no case shall more than two such orders be made or requests be granted.

Added Stats 1972 ch 903 § 1. Amended Stats 1974 ch 1321 § 10; Stats 1986 ch 220 § 1, effective June 30, 1986.

The important part in this section is that the hearing shall be conducted within 90 days of the hearing being requested. Unless you, the applicant, request or agree to a continuance. I wouldn’t agree to a continuance because I wouldn’t want to give the board the ability to delay the process any further. If the OAH grants a request for extension, you’re stuck with it. The CSLB likes to say that the process can take 4-6 months, but I think this is a scare tactic. Section 487 suggests that a hearing could take place in as little as 3 months.

After a hearing request is submitted, Section 488 comes in to play.

§ 488. Hearing request

Except as otherwise provided by law, following a hearing requested by an applicant pursuant to subdivision (b) of Section 485, the board may take any of the following actions:

  • (a) Grant the license effective upon completion of all licensing requirements by the applicant.
  • (b) Grant the license effective upon completion of all licensing requirements by the applicant, immediately revoke the license, stay the revocation, and impose probationary conditions on the license, which may include suspension.
  • (c) Deny the license.
  • (d) Take other action in relation to denying or granting the license as the board in its discretion may deem proper.

Added Stats 2000 ch 568 § 2 (AB 2888).

This one is interesting because of item (c). This suggests that the CSLB could deny the license… again. What’s curious is that it was a denial that led you down the appeal/hearing path in the first place.

So there you have it, some interesting facts about CSLB application denials and the appeals process.

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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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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 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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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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CSLB Work Experience Seminar Part 2

CSLB work experience seminar part 2 includes pictures from the meeting and the video taken by the CSLB. I’m in the front row wearing the blue shirt.

I asked at one point if every critical classification applicant would be required to provide additional verification documents. Rick Villucci didn’t exactly answer the question. But I got the feeling that the answer is yes. If you are applying for a critical classification, you WILL be asked to provide that additional experience.

CSLB experience seminar

CSLB Work Experience Seminar Part 1

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CSLB Contradicts Itself

How are we suppose to follow the rules when the CSLB contradicts itself?

I received the Contractors State License Board Winter newsletter today, and within 2 minutes I found a statement where the CSLB contradicts its own laws. If the people who are responsible for implementing the laws can’t provide accurate information to the public, how are we suppose to trust them?

cslb contradicts itself

I mean, they are the ones that expect perfection from every applicant. All those t’s must be crossed, and all those i’s must be dotted, or you can forget getting a license. Apparently they don’t hold themselves to the same standards!

Click here to view the cslb newsletter.

What I’m referring to specifically is the page titled “Angry about Unlicensed Competition? There’s a Form for That.” Within this article they state that “Those without a license can advertise as along as the ad states that they are not a state-licensed contractor, and the combined total of a project’s labor and materials costs is $500 and under.

Now here’s a section from the CSLB website: “It is illegal for an unlicensed person to perform contracting work on any project valued at $500 or more in labor and materials.” This can be found here: http://www.cslb.ca.gov/consumers/reportunlicensedactivity/WhatIsIllegalContractorActivity.asp

Can you see the discrepancy? Is it less than 500? Or is it 500 or more?

This reminds me about a CSLB app tech who told me a client needed an Individual Bond because he held 10% ownership. I had to “teach” the cslb tech that the law requires an Individual Bond when the qualifier owned LESS than 10%.

What have we learned today? Don’t believe everything the CSLB tells you because the CSLB contradicts itself!

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