Where is my contractor?
June 2008 (Palm Springs, Calif.) — An article in the Sunday, June 1, 2008, edition of the L.A. Times Real Estate section titled “Worker has no license? Be wary”, by Times Staff Writer Robert Lopez, tells the familiar story of a homeowner’s plight. In spite of taking a cautious approach when hiring a contractor to remodel her kitchen and dining room, she found herself in a predicament. Several months into the remodel, her contractor stopped showing up and leaving her floor ripped apart and electrical wiring in the attic unfinished. Now, more than three years after the contractor abandoned her job, she is still paying to fix things that weren’t done right. “It’s been one problem after another.”
Although the “contractor” she hired gave her his license number, that license had expired several years ago and didn’t even belong to the person/company she hired. When she went to the Contractors State License Board (CSLB) she found she was far from alone in her situation. Pamela Mares, a spokesperson from the CSLB is quoted in the article as saying “It’s safe to say that there are thousands of people out there breaking the law by contracting without a license.” And “There’s a lot of money out there, and they know it.”
The article states there is an estimated $10 billion annually spent on home remodeling and construction projects. In the fiscal year 2006-07 the agency received more than 15,000 complaints regarding contractors with 11,500 of those complaints being formally investigated resulting in 105 contractors referred to local prosecutors and 195 licenses being suspended.
Hiring a contractor is a daunting task to even the savviest of homeowners. The California Real Estate Inspection Association (CREIA) urges homeowners to use prudence and hire the best, most reliable contractor you can find. Carefully check the contractor’s credentials and insurance and verify his/her track record with other customers.
Once you have selected a contractor there’s another safeguard you can employ to avoid an unpleasant ending. You can hire an independent, code certified, CREIA New Construction Specialist (CNCS) to periodically inspect the work as it progresses. Although this may appear redundant, since municipal inspectors inspect the work for code compliance along the way, municipal inspectors have many inspections each day and cannot devote the time to do a thorough inspection; significant defects are often not discovered. Additionally, it is uncommon for a municipal inspector to go under a building or in an attic.
Established in 1976, CREIA is the largest and oldest state inspection association in the country. CREIA inspectors must adhere to CREIA's Code of Ethics and follow the Standards of Practice developed and maintained by the Association. Recognized by the State of California, these Standards of Practice are considered the source for Home Inspector Standard of Care by the real estate and legal communities.
CREIA is dedicated to consumer protection and education. To locate a qualified CREIA inspector near you click here or call CREIA at (800) 388-8443.
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