Selling your home or buying a foreclosure and restoring it, is hard enough. The last thing you want is to discover that your contractor is a really a con man. Unfortunately this is, increasingly, the story. Workmen who’ve absconded with the advance having left some ‘tools’ in your basement to get started. Contractors who, once you’ve signed on the dotted line, switch to working on your home only once a week, dragging the job out. And of course, contractors who just don’t get the job done right, the first time.
If you’re looking to have your home painted, there’s no reason to take chances. The margin for error – in this case contractor fraud – is just too high.
So what’s a home-owner to do?
- Make sure your contractor is legal. Unlicensed contractors lack accountability.
- Check for the contractor’s license. Unlicensed contractors have a high rate of involvement in construction scams.
An Informed Consumer is the Best Consumer. Did You Know?
- It is illegal for an unlicensed painter to perform contracting work – whether it’s exterior paint or interior paint – if labor and materials cost $600 or more.
- In California, hiring an unlicensed painting contractor means entering into an illegal contract.
- Accidents on site? You’re liable for their injuries. Unlicensed workmen have no workers compensation insurance.
- Unhappy with a paint job? You will not be able to appeal to the State Contractors License Board (SCLB). Courts may not consider your contract with an unlicensed painter as legally binding.
- Property Damage? If a painter isn’t licensed, chances are they won’t have liability insurance, either.
How Can You Tell When Your “Licensed” Contractor is a Poser?
Unlicensed painting contractors do pose as licensed contractors. In the USA, it is required by law, that every estimate, invoice, and advertisement must carry the contractor’s license number. Be on the safe side of caution and make sure it’s still valid and active:
- Go to the Contractors State License Board’s website (www.cslb.ca.gov).
- On the left side click on “check a license” or “HIS registration”.
- From the next window you can view the License Status, Workman Comp Insurance, Liability Insurance and Bond Company.
The Contractors State License Board (CSLB) is the first line of defense against construction scams and fraudulent painters.
- The Statewide Investigative Fraud Team (SWIFT) is set up to monitor and combat illegal activity.
- SWIFT has teams, state-wide, that conduct ‘stings’ on a regular basis and sweep construction sites for illegal operators.
- SWIFT also conducts joint operations and sweeps with other state agencies. This raises the penalties and fines for violators by increasing the scope of violations to include taxes, illegal payrolls, workers compensation and worker safety.
Be an informed citizen. If you’re hiring a painter, make sure he’s on the right side of the law. It will save you time and money. Never be fooled by contractors who tell you that custom painting jobs can only be done well by unlicensed, small painters. Talk to companies like Custom Painting Inc. that have served the Bay Area in California since 1982 and get the full range of painting services, including specialty and custom jobs.