Contractor Licensing Digging up the Dirt

Licensing – Digging up the Dirt


While reviewing the information on a contractor posted on the Contractors State License Board website, you reached that rather innocuous line titled “Additional Status”. But rather than being blank like so many others, this one is filled in with the following line: “Click here for Complaint Disclosure Information”. Clicking on the Complaint Disclosure link will bring you to another page where any complaint or violation involving that license is listed. Before we click on the violation link and read the juicy details, let’s go over what this information means – and what it doesn’t mean.

It usually has to get pretty bad to end up with something on this page. Think about how many times you might have been wronged by someone and you took it to the rather drastic step of contacting and filing a formal complaint with a state agency. Most consumers who aren’t happy try lots of other steps first (like the BBB or getting a lawyer to write a nasty letter) before they seek a solution using the state bureaucracy. So the odds are that if the complaint is coming from a consumer and it reaches the level of appearing on this page, then there’s probably one very unhappy client out there.

We’ll get into the process of filing a complaint and how it’s handled (or insufficiently handled) by the Board in a later Series; but let’s get back to some basic definitions and explanations of what can be found on this page. The page will list the Case Number, Date and Status of each violation. Status is what happened as a result of the Board’s investigation. The license may have been suspended as punishment or revoked if for repeat offenders or when the violation was sufficiently bad as to end up with some jail time in some cases. It can also reflect when the violation was resolved (usually by the word “Complete”) which means the contractor did what was necessary and resolved whatever problem existed.

Clicking on the Case Number will bring you to another page that provides you with three pieces of information on the violation: 1) the Code or law that the contractor is accused of violating – usually California’s Business and Professions Code; 2) the Violation which is a code number like 7107 for those who want to really get into the generic details of the law; and 3) a description of the violation – for example, 7107 refers to “Abandonment without legal excuse of any construction project”.

An example of a ‘lesser offense’ might be 7110 which in the case of a contractor I know who has this on his record, refers to the fact that he violated building law by not getting a permit.

But all is not as it seems. Let’s dive deeper into those violations with a couple of good war stories to find out what really happened and to help put this whole violation process in perspective. That’s next.

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