SACRAMENTO - If you've ever hired someone to paint your home, install a deck or patio, or help out with any other type of home repair, you know you're inviting someone you don't even know onto your property and into your home. Can they be trusted, do they know what they're doing, are they reliable? These are questions homeowners ask and things they worry about.
"It's not easy taking on the role of employer, so to speak, and hiring someone to work on repair projects at your home," said California Statewide Law Enforcement Association (CSLEA) President Alan Barcelona. "You want to hire a contractor who is licensed by the state because they've gone through background checks and training. However, even then, homeowners need to be sure, if the contractor brings helpers, that the contractor has workers' comp insurance. And what kind of backgrounds do the hired help have? You don't want someone who will walk off with things inside your when your back is turned."
Every week, investigators with the Contractors State License Board (CSLB) work to eliminate the pool of "bad apples," also known as unlicensed contractors, in an effort to eliminate the risks for homeowners. They do this by conducting undercover stings at homes, businesses and other property throughout the state of California.
One such sting was held August 30, 2016 in Tehama where investigators invited people suspected of contracting without a license to an abandoned restaurant and sought bids on painting, flooring, fencing and paving jobs. Investigators quickly found six people who placed bids high enough to require that they have a state license, and didn't. One of those suspects had methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia in his possession. Two brothers who placed bids did so using their father's contractor license number.
CSLB investigators also conducted an undercover sting in Napa August 30-31, 2016. There, they posed as homeowners in need of a new deck, landscaping, painting and concrete. In the course of their two day sting, they cited 13 people suspected of illegal contracting.
First-conviction penalties for contracting without a license include up to six months in jail and/or up to $5,000 in fines. Despite widespread publicity about CSLB undercover stings, investigators rarely set up shop and leave without finding suspected unlicensed contractors. While it is "consumer beware," CSLB investigators are working to protect consumers and also level the playing field for those licensed contractors who play be the rules.