Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Is Your Contractor Licensed?

If you live in California, 2011 was an interesting year for contractor law. If you're remodeling, building or altering a structure you might want to read the following by "Brittany Levine" of the Orange County Register.

In 2010, unlicensed contractors are in store for tougher penalties. Starting Jan. 1, those caught contracting in California without a license for the first time will face six months in jail or a fine of up to $5,000 because of a new law that will take affect. Right now the offense is only considered a misdemeanor with no set jail time or penalties.

Second-timers must pay 20 percent of the contract price, or $5,000, whichever is greater and spend at least 90 days in county jail.

A third offense would be punishable with 90 days to one year in a county jail and a fine between $5,000 and $10,000, or 20 percent of the contract price, according to the law, Assembly Bill 370.

Anyone who uses an unlicensed contractor is a victim and is entitled to a refund, regardless of whether they knew the contractor was unlicensed, according to state law.

In October, the Contractors State License Board, which operates under the Department of Consumer Affairs, conducted a sting operation in San Clemente and caught 15 illegal contractors. This year, the CSLB closed 133 cases on unlicensed contractors in Orange County, either sending them notices to appear in county court or administrative citations, according to CSLB data. State law requires that all jobs valued at $500 or more for labor and materials must be done by a licensed contractor.

To get a license, contractors must pass several tests and get a background check from the Department of Justice. Those with offenses substantially related to contracting are not granted licenses. There are currently about 315,000 licensed contractors in California. Because unlicensed operators don't carry worker's compensation insurance, they often cost less. But if a worker is injured on the job, the homeowner could be liable. Also, if there is a contract disagreement homeowners have very few options, said a CSLB news release.

By Brittany Levine - The Orange County Register

As you can gather from Ms. Levine's article, the state is no longer playing slap and tickle with regard to non-permitted items and the use of non-licensed contractors. To do so, one would proceed at their own peril.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Commercial Property Inspection

The commercial inspection process is quite different from a home inspection. Where the home inspection requires an inspection process from soup to nuts so to speak. This would include flooring, electrical, plumbing, roofing, HVAC, windows, screens, doors, child safety issues, landscape and irrigation issues, smoke alarms, GFCI's and... Well, you get point.

The commercial inspection is more commonly referred to as a Four Point Inspection, (Roofing, Plumbing, Mechanical and Electrical systems). You would still look for issues with regard to visible structural and water intrusion issues but not concern yourself with the more aesthetic issues of the property as with the home inspection.

For many commercial and industrial inspections, the properties are quite large. This creates the need for an inspection team. In addition to myself, I bring in a commercial roofing contractor, commercial mechanical contractor and commercial electrical contractor. A recent 8000'sf commercial property inspection had 37 tons of central air equipment over (6) roof mounted package and split units, a roofing system with (5) different elevations and (3) different types of material and a 600 amp switch panel board with (6) interior sub panels.

Total time on location for a vacant property of this size was (6) hours. We discovered substantial issues with regard to each of the inspection disciplines. The client in this case was provided a full report package with general inspection report from myself and subcontractor reports for each area of expertise. The completed package with photography was delivered to the client via email with cover sheet and SLA - Service Level Agreement within 48 hours of inspection.

Have an upcoming commercial or industrial building inspection in California? Let "Progressive Inspection Service" handle the project for you with one phone call. You'll thank me later!