Ten Steps: How Can Local Contractors Keep From Getting “Burned” by the San Diego Wildfires?

For Immediate Release Contact: Bryan Weaver
October 24, 2007 Business Development

How Can Local Contractors Keep From Getting “Burned” by the San Diego Wildfires?

San Diego, Calif., October 24, San Diego based construction law firm, Scholefield Associates, P.C. has created a list of 10 “do’s and don’t’s” to help contractors survive the post-wildfire rebuilding process.

As the wildfires continue to rage on, there are many victims who have returned home and are beginning to assess their damage. It is predicted that the region will be flooded with out-of-state or unlicensed people posing as contractors. It is illegal and punishable as a felony to perform contracting work in a declared disaster area without a California contractor's license. Punishment may include a fine of up to $10,000 or up to 16 months in state prison. While the results of the wildfires will stimulate a flurry of new construction activity, it will also open the doors for con artists.

“Because of the problems we saw during the 2003 Cedar fires, we want to help keep licensed contractors from getting into problems with homeowners and contracting laws”, said Pamela Scholefield, the firm’s lead attorney. “We also want to let the contractors know that they can help educate the homeowners to stay away from the fly-by-night scam artists.”
Scholefield Associates has provided a list of things that contractors should do in order to put the homeowner’s mind at ease. A licensed contractor should be upfront with homeowners and offer as much information as possible. “Don’t try to hide anything or appear to be anything less than legitimate”, added Scholefield. It is recommended that as a minimum, be sure to do the following:

1. Make sure your license is up to date before performing any work and show a copy of your license as evidence that you are a licensed contractor.
a. Bring along copies of the most recent Contractor State License Board (CSLB) information page. Encourage the homeowner to go online themselves to confirm this.
b. Show that all pertinent information is accurate, such as the statutory bond and workers compensation insurance.
c. For Home Improvement Salespeople, encourage the homeowner to call the company telephone number listed on the CSLB page to confirm your employment with the contractor.

2. Provide names and telephone numbers of qualified references such as previous customers and encourage the homeowner to call these people and speak with them.

3. Be sure your contracts are in compliance Contractor State License laws, for example:
a. Don’t take more than 10% down or $1000, whichever is less.
b. Don’t take any more payments than the value of the work done.
c. Do only work that you are licensed to do.

4. Do not let anyone “borrow” your license to allow them to get work. This is illegal, both for you and for the person who is not authorized to use your license.

5. Provide a WRITTEN quote detailing the exact work to be performed, the exact cost for the work, the date the work will begin, and the time it will take to complete the work and the payment schedule expect.

6. Don’t make promises that you cannot keep, such as start and completion dates.

7. Don’t gouge the homeowners. It is illegal to charge more that 10% of your usual rates when doing work caused by disasters.

8. Be sure to tell the homeowners that the typical scam used by an illegal contractor to use the license number of a licensed contractor, collect a hefty cash deposit and then disappear.

9. Emphasize to a homeowner that only licensed contractors are legally allowed to perform work valued over $500, and that anyone else offering to do any work is breaking the law.

10. Make sure the homeowner appropriate funding is in place for your work
a. Recommend that a fund control be established to ensure prompt payment.

As a contractor, if you are unsure about any of the above referenced suggestions, or are unsure of your legal responsibilities; contact a qualified construction lawyer before entering into any contract.

About Scholefield Associates, P.C.
A construction law litigation firm, that represents developers, contractors and material suppliers in private and public works and handles contract negotiations, contract disputes, delay claims, scope of work, mechanics’ liens, prevailing wage requirements, and construction specific licensing and business formations. Founded in 1998, the firm's San Diego office has developed a reputation as an extremely qualified, high performance boutique law firm. More about the firm can be found on its Web site:

Contact: Bryan Weaver, Mgr. Business Development, Scholefield Associates, P.C. 619-544-0086 xt105 or


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