It’s Remodeling Season: What You Need to Know Going In

shutterstock_70184671Warm weather makes newly painted walls dry faster, projects less likely to be rain-delayed and spawns desire for that outdoor kitchen. But before you put big bucks towards a better abode, the Contractors State License Board (CSLB) reminds you to do your due diligence before hiring any contractor to perform work in or on your home.

While most contractors are honest, hard-working professionals, consumers must always protect themselves from unlicensed, unscrupulous contractors who prey on them. You’d never buy a car without thoroughly researching it; do the same before investing in your home. Here are some tips from CSLB:

  • Check the license: For your protection, hire only state-licensed contractors. Verify a license by calling CSLB toll-free at (800) 321-CSLB (2752) or visit cslb.ca.gov. Any contractor doing $500 or more in work (including materials and labor) must be licensed by CSLB to work in California. Confirm that your contractor carries general liability insurance and workers’ compensation insurance for employees that might be working in your home. Otherwise, you could be liable for their injuries.
  • Get at least three bids: Obtain at least three price estimates and ask for references on work the contractor has completed locally. Check out the finished projects in person if possible.
  • Get it in writing: In California, there must be a written contract for all home improvement projects over $500 in combined labor and materials costs.Contractors cannot ask for a deposit of more than 10 percent of the total cost for the job or $1,000, whichever is less. Ask for a current list of contact information for not only the contractor, but also the subcontractors and suppliers.
  • Manage the project and monitor payments: Never pay in cash and don’t let payments get ahead of the work. Keep all receipts, and don’t make the final payment until you’re completely satisfied with the finished job.

CSLB’s quick and comprehensive video is a must-see for those about to undertake home-improvement projects: www.cslb.ca.gov/Consumers/Hire_A_Contractor/Do_It_Right_Video.aspx

Also keep in mind the recent State Civil Code law change—effective January 2014—that requires anyone applying for a building permit that will alter or improve a single-family residence built in 1994 or earlier to replace all plumbing fixtures with water-saving designs. Replacement is a condition of receiving final permit approval from a local building department. In an Industry Bulletin published for contractors, CSLB clarified that building permits issued for property maintenance and repairs (such as re-roofing, water heater replacement, window replacement and some others as determined by the State Building Code) do not trigger the new requirements. Be sure to check all the details here: www.cslb.ca.gov/Media_Room/Industry_Bulletins/2014/January_17.aspx.

Small Claims Court: DCA Guidebook Explains How to Navigate This Valuable Consumer Resource

One of the Department of Consumer Affairs’ most popular titles—The Small Claims Court: A Guide to Its Practical Use—has been recently updated and is available now for download!

Some people think going to court is difficult or frightening, but it doesn’t need to be. DCA’s handbook, written by DCA’s Legal Affairs Division, is designed to help anyone who is suing or being sued in small claims court, or deciding whether or not to file a case. Although your local small claims court clerk or small claims adviser should be your first go-to for questionsshutterstock_74941255, our guide is a handy backup. It includes:

  • A glossary of legal terms.
  • A checklist for plaintiffs and defendants.
  • An explanation of what small claims court is and how to decide if it’s your best option.
  • Factors to consider before filing.
  • Resources for locating the party you’re filing against.
  • Guidance on what to do if you’re the defendant.

It also contains advice on how to make the most of your day in court.
Get your copy here: http://www.dca.ca.gov/publications/small_claims/small_claims.pdf.

Latest Consumer Connection Magazine Highlights New Medical Marijuana Bureau

spring 2016

The first issue of 2016 is out, and it’s packed with great information.

Last year, the passage of the Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act added another new regulatory entity—the Bureau of Medical Marijuana Regulation—under the jurisdiction of the California Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA). Although it doesn’t officially open its doors until 2018, the DCA team is already hard at work getting its structure in place.  This issue outlines what the new laws do and how DCA will implement them, and also addresses some common questions and answers for consumers, businesses and potential licensees.

Also last year, the California State Athletic Commission (CSAC) took the lead in addressing the issue of youth pankration (mixed martial arts fighting). Now, CSAC is leading the way again, this time addressing the risky—and sometimes deadly—practice of extreme weight cutting. Read about this along with recommendations on how to manage prescription costs; how to protect your hearing; what to do if your car is a lemon; new laws that impact Californians; crowdfunding and more.

Visit the DCA website to download or read the magazine. You can also pick up a printed copy in the DCA Headquarters lobby at 1625 North Market Boulevard in Sacramento. Or, to have it mailed to you at no charge, call (866) 320-8652 or send an e-mail request to consumerconnection@dca.ca.gov. Get connected!