Protecting Yourself and Property from Contractors…

Protecting yourself and your property, please read…

Before I became a licensed contractor while studying for my test, I got a call out of the blue regarding a drywall job. I was advertising as a handyman on Craigslist. So I show up at some house in downtown Sacramento and proceeded to go check out this potential job. The couple that was there, showed me where they wanted to have a wall built up on top of another wall and make this wall go all the way up to the ceiling. While checking it out and taking notes, I noticed that there were some other people there in this empty house walking someone around.

So as we continued to talk, various other requests where coming in such as can you do tile? We want some laminate flooring and so on. So I kept on taking notes as my gut started to get uncomfortable. After they showed me approximately $3000 of work, I asked them if they had an email address and that I would send some prices to them later. I left, went to my truck and crumbled up the notes including the email address and drove away. I was not legally qualified to bid on all that work as a handyman and I am pretty sure that I had been called into what the Contractors State License Board calls (SWIFT) which is short for Statewide Investigative Fraud Team.

I would have been an illegal contractor if I priced out those jobs, while they should have been protecting themselves The CSLB puts on the SWIFT construction stings to catch illegal contractors and in turn, protect you the consumer.

What is illegal contracting? Illegal contracting activity is an unlicensed person performing work on a project valued at $500 or more in combined labor and material costs (Yes, including materials!). This practice is not only illegal, but is also unfair competition for licensed contractors who operate with bonds, insurance and other responsible business practices.

CSLB’s warning on Owner/builder…

Anyone who talks you into being your own general contractor, or “owner/builder,” may be doing you no favor. “Owner/builder” describes a situation in which the homeowner becomes the general contractor.

As an owner/builder, you (not the person you hire) assume responsibility for the overall job. You should be protecting yourself.

Your responsibilities may include such things as state and federal taxes, workers’ compensation insurance, and other legal liabilities. You may be required to hire various subcontractors for your project, scheduling their work and supervising the job. If a worker is injured while working on your property, you could be asked to pay for injuries and rehabilitation through your homeowner’s insurance policy. By signing a building permit application as an owner/builder, you assume full responsibility for all phases of your project and its integrity.

Hiring an unlicensed “consultant” to manage the project does not save you money in the long run. By hiring a licensed experienced contractor for your project to hire licensed knowledgeable tradespersons, the contractor becomes responsible for all phases of construction. Unless you are very experienced in construction, it is best to leave these matters to your licensed contractor.

How you can hire someone while protecting yourself…

-Check the contractor license number at to make sure it is current and in good standing.

-Ask to see the contractor’s pocket license and a current photo ID.

-Get at least three contractor bids and references.

-Ask whether your contractor carries general liability insurance and workers’ compensation insurance for employees.

-Make sure all project materials and expectations are spelled out and signed in a written contract, including clean-up, debris removal, and site security.

-Ask your contractor if he or she understands your project expectations.

-Schedule and document each phase of your project and the corresponding payment schedule.

-Do not let payments get ahead of the work. Pay no more than 10% down or $1,000, whichever is less.

-Try researching your contractor’s name online for additional reviews.

bad construction
“Oops”, plumber should have shut door before installing the bathtub…

Why I want to blog…

Why I want to Blog. After several years in the construction industry whether it was as an employee of either a residential or commercial contractor or a remodeling business owner for the past 8 years, I have ran into a lot of situations and experiences that could be shared with others by way of a blog. Yes, I could keep this information to myself and come to your place to take care of potential issues and problems, charge you and go on my merry way.

One of my clients told me that I need to pass on what I know, she was talking about hiring and training someone up with my knowledge. I’m not quite ready for that yet, except maybe physically. I decided that over time to create some useful articles that can help you, help yourself in various ways and maybe save you some time, money and headache. I do field calls and if possible, try to assist potential clients over the phone to solve their issues without a visit and cost. It would be nice to say, “I wrote a blog on that very topic” and point them here to my website.

This will be a as time permits project. I am not sure what topics I will come up with and welcome suggestions. These articles will take some time to create, hopefully they will be useful to you as they get created. So, that is “Why I want to Blog.” Thanks for stopping by…


Remodeling Contractor Blog

Water Intrusion, your home’s worst enemy…

Out of all the elements out there, water is by far one of the worst culprits that can turn your home into a disaster. Water intrusion can show up in many ways such as broken pipes, appliance failure (e.g. water heater, washing machine, ac unit, refrigerator and dishwasher),  failing shower surround systems, leaking sink plumbing and toilets. Water can also enter your home from the outside from cracks or gaps in doors and windows, failing siding and trim, bad ground grading, sprinkler systems, clogged downspouts and old or faulty roofing.

Once the water has made it into your home, it can cause wood to decay. It can also create an environment where mold can grow starting on the inside of walls, floors and ceilings and by the time you notice it, it can already be well on its way in creating damage. Termites also thrive on moist wood and so does fungus.


Things to take a look at…

On the exterior of your home there are things to pay attention to. Gutters should always be cleaned and if not can lead to problems. Fascia boards that your gutters are attached to are usually made of wood. When your gutters are filled with debris, water backup can happen causing your gutters to leak or even overflow which in time can cause your fascia and even the roof overhang to rot pretty quickly. This can escalate to your wood siding causing extensive damage to your home.

Another exterior area to pay attention to is the ground that surrounds your house. Does the ground slope away from the home in all directions? Are gutters and any other drainage pipes also draining away from the house? Does your backyard slope toward your house? Common remedies are downspouts that drain away from the house at least 3 feet, adjusting the soil creating a slope away from your home and having a contractor install a “French Drain” at the base of a hillside to reroute water away from your home.

As far as your foundation, keep in mind that concrete is very porous and will readily absorb moisture while leaching salts and various minerals out of the concrete that are required for the concrete to remain solid and structurally sound. Concrete can become weak and brittle.

Are your sprinklers spraying on the house? Hose bib leaking when you turn on the hose? Bushes touching the house and acting as a sponge in the wet seasons? There is a lot to keep an eye on, but worth paying attention to.

On the interior of your home, always keep an eye on what’s going on under your sinks. For some reason, this area is often overlooked due to our tendency to overload these areas with items making it hard to notice when something is leaking. In bathrooms, toilet wax rings tend to fail over time causing leakage which starts to deteriorate flooring. if it’s a second story bathroom, it will cause damage to the ceiling below, which is usually how it gets noticed. In the bathtub, a typical point of failure is the overflow gasket on the tub itself, kids take a bath and water shows up leaking out of the ceiling below and gets noticed.

Keep an eye on all water lines that go from the wall valves to fixtures and appliances such as washing machines, refrigerator water lines and all faucets. These should be replaced periodically, say every 5 years.

Hopefully this has been informative and helpful and save you some expense and headache in the future.

Robert Calvo, General Contractor


Water Intrusion