licensed general contractor writing

Stories from a licensed general contractor

Referring to me as ‘the writer’ might be a bit misleading as most of this information is readily available via the Internet. Perhaps a better description might be that of a compiler and story teller.

My name is Mark Frauman and like several thousand others, I am a licensed general contractor in the state of California. I received my license in 1981 (“B” #404777). In over three decades as a licensed general contractor, I’ve certainly seen, heard or read about most of the pitfalls that plague the relationship between consumer and contractor and which form both the incentive and content of many of the articles.

My qualifications for this undertaking are not unique, but certainly rare. Unlike a number of my compatriots, in over 30 years of licensed contracting experience, I’ve never had a complaint filed against me. That doesn’t mean I haven’t had my share of problems – just that I’ve found less stressful and more constructive means of resolving those issues.

While I have completed a large number of residential projects, I’ve also founded several commercial construction endeavors. My first construction related experience came about soon after my service in the Air Force when I founded what became the largest solar micro-utility company in the state (and yes, I was a bit too far ahead of the game on that one). We specialized in large commercial applications like funding and constructing a solar energy system for the dormitories at UCLA that was used as the Olympic Village during the 1984 LA Olympics. When that industry went into what would become a two-decade hiatus, my investor partners and I purchased and renovated over 1200 rental units until the real estate recession of the early 1990’s made that a non-profit endeavor. During this same period, I also contracted with the then-fledgling cell phone industry to install equipment at cell phone sites throughout the region.

Licensed General Contractor

Hailey BethAfter a stint in land development and new home construction in Arizona, I began HB Contracting in Orange County California which focuses on residential and commercial improvements and remodels and is named for my granddaughter; Haley Beth (affectionately nicknamed ‘Bean’). Bean is also the name of our apprentice who will provide a visual aid or opinion on the subject of our articles.

I do wish to stress that much of what is contained in the articles is simply my personal opinion or analysis of the subject matter. While I can definitely back up anything I write, I am not a lawyer and there is no intention of giving out anything resembling legal advice.

As to content, I currently have over 100 subjects I’ll be posting shortly so the odds are most issues will be covered. But I’m always looking for new ideas and great war stories to write about so please feel free to send me a note.

The Relationship Between Consumer and Contractor

When it comes to the relationship between consumer and contractor, there is a ton of information and advice freely available. Unfortunately, many consumers fail to take advantage of all this free material or they find it too confusing and overwhelming to shift through for answers. What I’ve attempted to do is take a large portion of that information and organize it into somewhat logical topic groups I call a “Series”. Within each Series, there’s a further breakdown into individual subjects or articles. While there’s a lot of them, the articles average about 500 words each and take less than 2 minutes to read. As anyone who really knows me will attest, cutting explanations down to under 2 minutes is quite an accomplishment for me.

At the time of time of this writing, the Series include the following:

  • Licensing Due Diligence
  • Finding A Contractor
  • Getting It In Writing
  • Problem Resolution
  • Getting Help
  • Mechanic’s Liens
  • Buyer Beware
  • Tips & Tales

As I get feedback and recommendations from readers, I’ll add articles and new Series.

Anyone who has done any research on these subjects will recognize quite a bit of this material – various consumer protection websites tend to agree on the ‘hot issues’ and focus in on those same points. In many cases, I quoted their message verbatim if I felt they did a great job of getting the point across. Sometimes there is too much emphasis on the same obvious points and not enough on issues that result in the conflicts I see out there on a regular basis so in these articles, we’ll focus on real situations from the first step of the process and what to do when it happens to you.

With over 30 years of experience, I certainly have seen or heard quite a few ‘real situations’ or ‘war stories’ and will include them as either part of an article and other times part of the “Tips & Tales” series.

Please note – for the most part, I’m avoiding the use of individual’s names and/or companies. I don’t want to have to seek legal protection every time I “name names” and likewise, I don’t want these articles to divert from their objective and become a means by which contractors or consumers promote their own interests. If I do include a name, it’s because I either have personal knowledge of them or have followed the same recommendations contained within these articles to check them out.

So what makes me qualified to provide this advice – that’s coming next.

Knowledge is power

Stories, Advice, Recommendations and Suggestions from a General Contractor

When it comes to the age-old conflict between consumer and contractor – knowledge is not only power, but saves money.

It’s been called many things and goes by many names.

Its reputation of inflicting tremendous anxiety and conflict is well earned and documented. And yet, we know there will always be new stories of those who willingly faced their fear in pursuit of making a dream come true or just getting things back to the way they were.

The names we call it include the four “Rs”: Remodel, Renovation, Rehabilitation, and/or Restoration; along with the popular home improvement, room addition, tenant improvement and just plain old maintenance. But by whatever name you call it, if you own or manage residential or commercial property the odds are pretty good that you’re going to be dealing with a contractor at some point. Standing between you and your objective is one of the most nerve-racking experiences known to a property owner – the selection, retention and control of a contractor.

But conflicts and stress are NOT the inevitable result of working with legitimate contractors. By exercising caution, doing your due diligence and finding a contractor that communicates and ‘gets it’, you’ll minimize the aggravation on the way to that dream remodel. It is our hope that this group of articles full of recommendations, stories and insights will help you get there with a minimal amount of side trips for stress reduction therapies.

The articles are designed to provide information on avoiding the pitfalls and possible solutions and resources should a problem arise. As there’s really nothing new when it comes to consumer protection and awareness, the key advantage offered in these articles is the insights and perspective of someone who has been licensed as a General Contractor in California for over 30 years.

My goal is simple – I want to ‘win’ by providing both consumers and contractors an informational resource to help tone down the friction.

  • If I successfully prevent one consumer from being ripped off; I win.
  • If information in these articles helps a consumer select a legitimate, well qualified contractor instead of an unlicensed and unscrupulous operator; I win.
  • If either party avoids a conflict because they recognize other options or the potential downstream effects of their action; I win.
  • If someone overcomes the fear factor and gets the dream project they really want; I win.

You can help me ‘win’. Should something in the articles help you in some way, please let me know I’m on the right track. Also, if you have a story that should be shared – especially one in which you found a rather unique way to work things out rather than get into a nasty fight – please send it to me and it might make one of our ‘Tips & Tales’. You might win too by helping someone else.