Atascadero non-licensed home remodeling sting nets 12

July 19, 2014

contractor arrestTwelve local home remodelers were among 94 statewide who face charges of contracting without a license after they were snared in a statewide undercover sting conducted this week, according to the California Contractors State License Board (CSLB).

CSLB investigators posed as homeowners seeking bids from people advertising on Craigslist for home improvements such as painting, electrical, decking, landscaping, flooring, drywall, fencing, concrete, and tree removal work. The investigators would then have the remodeler give a bid before citing those who broke the law.

Statewide, 82 people were cited for illegal advertising, state law requires contractors to place their license number in all print, broadcast, and online advertisements. Those without a license can advertise to perform jobs valued at less than $500, but the ad must state that they are not a licensed contractor.

Another 10 were cited for requesting an excessive down payment. In California, a home improvement project down payment cannot exceed 10 percent of the contract total or $1,000, whichever is less. This misdemeanor charge carries a maximum penalty of six months in jail and/or up to a $5,000 fine.

Those arrested at a home in Atascadero include a suspect who had an arrest warrant from Imperial County, two repeat offenders; one was issued a notice to appear in 2009, the other in 2010, a previously licensed contractor who was warned in 2012 not to contract without a license, and a suspect who offered to build a deck for free – with materials he’d find on craigslist for free – if he’d be allowed to live in a camper that was on the property. The names of those cited were not released.

In Atascadero, CSLB investigators partnered with the San Luis Obispo County District Attorney’s Office, the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Department, the California Highway Patrol and the Atascadero Police Department.


Watch a video of the Contractors State License Board stings in Rocklin and Corona on July 15-16:

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Sorry but homeowners can be SO STUPID!

Your home is probably the biggest investment/asset you will ever have. You wouldn’t use any old guy who SAID he was a doctor to do brain surgery, would you? So why use a guy for your home who “just happened” to be in the neighborhood, had leftover materials etc.?

In CA a contractor must be licensed to do a job over $500. Period. He can only collect 10% or $1000 of the cost of the job, whichever is less, up front. He has a “pocket license” like a drivers license he carries and the validity of his license can be checked online at

Get three estimates, get references, do your homework. Some people spend more time buying a car or even shopping than checking out a contractor who could destroy their home, sue them and make their lives a living hell. Go figure.

…. but $500 ? Come on you can’t even get a high school kid to paint a coral board fence for less than $500.

A word for the wise about unlicensed contractors. Make certain that you know the person if they’re unlicensed and that you know them well. I have a close friend who was approached about his landscaping and some debris removal. The guy said he would clean up and haul the debris for a very good price, I think it was around $200.

What happened is the guy showed up about 6 days after doing the job wanting my friend to turn over his home owners insurance information because he claimed that he had stepped on a nail while doing the yard work and the puncture had got badly infected and he had been hospitalized and treated with intravenous antibiotics which was true (the hospital part) and he had the bills to prove it. As it turned out, this handy man wasn’t too smart because when my friend looked into it, he found that the initial intake form at the hospital noted that the client stated that he had gone to a One Stop Clinic for a tetanus shot when he stepped on the rusty nail so my friend got the information from the One Stop Clinic as to the date that he received the tetanus shot. It turned out that the date was 3 days before he even stepped on my friends property.

My friend threatened to report him to the police for extortion and he went away but here is an example of what can happen with strangers. I would not ever hire and unlicensed contractor unless I knew him well.


So the hospital gave out information on this man’s intake form and the clinic gave out information on when this man had a tetanus shot? Seem hard to believe.

I asked the same question. He said that he had the guy sign a waiver form (the same kind the hospital gives you to confirm who can receive your records) stating that he was authorized to receive all medical records pertaining to the foot injury. The guy who tried to shake him down probably forgot about having the tetanus shot being on the intake form but it was on there. Its possible that the date of the reported visit to the One Stop Clinic was actually on the hospital intake form so I’m not certain if he actually went to Med Stop or not, it’s been a while since I heard the story. I just know that this all occurred and that the injury happened 3 days before the UC ever stepped on his property.

Don’t take me wrong. I have a handy man who can fix anything and he is unlicensed but I know him well. I just wanted to warn people about scammers.

How in the He77 did he get his medical records? Seems to me, the bad guy has a good case against the “One Stop Clinic”.

For those of you who are claiming that anyone who pay’s a contractor over $600.00 must pay SS taxes for that individual, that is just plain INACCURATE. A person who bids a job as a contractor is in fact an “Independent Contractor” not an employee. The law simply requires that you file a 1099 by year end informing the IRS that you paid the individual for services rendered.

The contractor only becomes an employee if they work for you on a regular basis and at regular hours that you have set for them. For instance a maid could “possibly” fall under this category if they clean your home every Tuesday and Thursday and will definitely fall under this category if they are living in your home rent free. However if you call a window washer twice a year, he is not considered an employee. If you pay him over $600.00 during that year, then you are required by law to file a 1099.

You are not required to pay any portion or withhold any portion for remittance of his social security.

That’s right Cindy THE CONTRACTOR only becomes an employee. We aren’t talking contractors we are talking UNLICENSED contractor. Here read this.

Go to………Portland Painter falls hard for licencing. Go to the second paragraph.

“My employee very well could have sued the homeowner for medical bills and lost wages since it happened on his property,”

But hey Cindy I don’t know what I’m talking about. Go ahead and hire someone for a few thousand, unlic. and then go tell the Fed and state they are unlic and they aren’t paying any S.S or F.I.C.A. and let me know how that works out for YOU.

If I follow the law and file the 1099, it doesn’t matter if they’re licensed or unlicensed.

You only have to file a 1099 if you are a business. Homeowners do NOT have to file 1099s. You are liable for payroll taxes if you pay someone more than $1400 per year for services in your home unless they are in the business of providing these services to multiple people.

Thank you. Point still being that homeowners think………..hey no big deal what’s the worse that can happen? It isn’t just liability for injury. It is all kinds of liability but to the few that know oh so much more about it and don’t want to hear the truth, I say, good luck and don’t bitch to your insurance carrier or others if and when you get stuck.

It seems to me that this issue should be up to the homeowner. For instance, it would be rather careless to have an unlicensed contractor replace your roof no matter how competent you thought he was as a roof is just too important to leave to chance and no recourse . On the other hand, you can save a lot of money when it comes to painting your house and lets face it, anyone can paint a house. Of course there is the concern of them falling off a ladder and suing your insurance rather than the liability becoming the responsibility of the employers WC insurance. The question is, should we have a choice and the answer is YES OF COURSE. It should be up to us to weigh the pro’s and con’s. Fact is a licensed contractor often cost double and why pay double for a job anyone can do, like painting? Why should it be against the law for me to have a bunch of friends paint my house?

It isn’t against the law for a bunch of friends to paint your house. If they do it for free they don’t care. If you pay each under $500.00 (material and labor) they don’t care. You can still do it.

Also why should all the rest of us risk our insurance rates going up when we use a professional, while my cheap neighbor doesn’t but yet they get sued and now my rates go up? I don’t think so.

Why don’t you check all your neighbors plumbing to make certain that they don’t have any old plumbing that could cause a water leak. I recently had a water leak and the damage cost my insurance over 20K. My insurance went up sky high but I doubt that yours did.

My barbeque started a fire a few years back, I was able to put it out before it got out of hand. If it had got away from me it could have burned a few homes down and everybody’s insurance would have gone up in this area. Fortunately, i had a hose nearby, there was no fire that got out of control and I purchased a new barbeque but maybe we should make certain that people don’t use barbeques just in case?

So by your logic you should also just go around driving without car insurance? I mean hey Cindy has got it covered right??

Of course people need car insurance, f you hit somebody and damage their property or injure them, you damn well better be able to pay for it. You’re usually sensible but I can see this topic has you blind sided.

Cindy rates don’t go down and they keep going up. Yes you paid more as responsible party but you don’t think claims keep prices up? Do you realize that ALL of our insurance for homes stays up to bal. out hurricane loses in southern states? FACT. So save me the it doesn’t cost others or you have no idea how insurance works.

Bottom line, anybody (contractor, friend, neighbor) can injure themselves on your property and sue you. By your standards, everybody should have personal liability insurance before they go to a party.

You have a problem with people who are unlicensed doing work, PERIOD. Your argument about how it could cause insurance rated to go up is extremely reaching……. A barbeque starting a fire in a neighborhood is a far greater argument, if you want to stay this course, be my guest.

Of course hurricanes cause all insurance rated to go up. Please stop comparing tadpoles to whales.

No I have a problem with people that cheat and don’t follow the law. Obviously you don’t.

As far as comparison I was following your thought process.

‘If you pay each under $500.00 (material and labor) they don’t care. You can still do it.’ That is not a true statement. If the TOTAL cost of labor and material exceeds $500.00 you need a contract. It doesn’t matter what you pay each. If you hire a person and pay him/her $20. to install a $500.00 water heater, the “installer” is required to have a license, even though his pay was only $20.00.

The same goes for your “friends”. If the paint cost you $405.00 and you pay two people $50 each to apply it, totaling $505.00, the state requires a Contract.

Well then, it sounds like you would need a contractor.

For all the fools who don’t understand this, here’s a little information for you. You did not pay for this per say. We, the licensed, bonded, insured contractors did. I have bid many of jobs only to get beaten by some scab who has no liability insurance, comp, etc. Many of these unlicensed guys have illegals working for them for cash so zero in payroll taxes are being paid into your government coffers. WE the licensed contractors paid for this through our fees we pay to the state every two years. As far as we (contractors) are concerned, the hell with these guys as they are taking food off of our plates because they are not on a level playing field. If you feel that this sting was a bad idea, then why don’t you petition the government to just open the borders and let all the illegals come in and steal all the government benefits.

Do you pay all your employees union wages too? I’m sure the union contractors say the same thing about non-union contractors taking food off their plates.

There are no union contractors in this area doing the work I do.

I agree! However, news flash: This just in. The borders are open to all, including women and children.

This sting was the work of a special group, not the local PD.

As a homeowner, I would like to know who these contractors were so that I will NOT use them. I have had some good experiences with contractors but also some bad ones. Why doesn’t this newspaper publish the names?

I will rest easier tonight knowing these “dangerous” criminals have been brought to justice. Now go arrest the gangs and the meth dealers or is that too risky?

Why can’t the licensing process simply involve requiring the contractor to have liability insurance meeting certain standards and a clean legal background? This would put the insurance industry in charge of making sure the contractor was knowledgeable and competent instead of a state bureaucracy. They would still have to run sting operations to catch the unlicensed contractors but there would be fewer of them if the process of becoming a contractor was more reasonable.

Also, I agree that the multiple LEOs on these stings are overkill. A single cop doing an identity check and writing a summons (except for repeat offenders or those with a history of scams) should be enough.

To have a lic. in this state, they do do a background check and they do require Gen. Lib. They aren’t the problem. It is the unlic. guy, who may be knowledgeable of job but COULDN’T clear a background check or couldn’t get insurance. Again this is to protect you but hey hire the meth head who does some work on the side and let me know how that works out for you after he is living in your house.