Friday, November 30, 2018

Unlicensed Contractors Arrested in CA Fire Zone Sting

A sting operation led to the arrest of ten unlicensed
contractors, who reportedly targeted a community
devastated by previous wildfires.

Earlier this month, ten unlicensed contractors in Northern California were arrested in a sting operation targeted near fire zones. The sting operation was conducted in late October, where suspected unlicensed contractors were invited to provide bids for home improvement jobs on a home in Lake County, California. The jobs ranged from tree removal to deck building. Ten unlicensed contractors gave bids to undercover investigators. The bids ranged from $800 to $4,000; according to California law, a state-issued contractor licensed is required for any job valued at over $500.

The ten suspects were cited and could face up to six months in jail and $5,000 in penalties if charged with a misdemeanor count of contracting without a license. Five of the suspects could also be charged for illegally advertising services without a license to perform said work.

These unlicensed contractors pose a unique risk to their community. Over the past three years, nearly 2,000 Lake County residences have been destroyed by wildfires. The recent Camp Fire and Woolsey Fire have destroyed homes, displaced thousands and killed dozens. The California Contractors State License board noted an influx of contractors pursuing survivors, often stressed and pressed for money, despite lacking the proper credentials.

For homes in "fire zones" or areas that are most at-risk for catching fire, there is an entire set of additional building code and regulations. These regulations don't just protect homes, they save people's lives.

The structural integrity of many homes across California have come into question after nearly 100 fatalities were reported in this year's fire season. Some construction industry experts question whether these fire zones are truly safe to build on, while others question if building materials and building code should be reviewed. With widespread concern for licensed work, there is no doubt that unlicensed work has contributed to the structural failures seen across California.

Unlicensed contractors are not insured. Often times, they have not been properly trained on job site safety. And, unfortunately, the work of unlicensed contractors is often not up to current building code. Besides the risk to clients, unlicensed contractors impose risks such as jail time and fines on themselves.

For consumers, the California Contractors State Licensing Board recommends taking caution against hiring unlicensed contractors.

"Consumers should be sure to take some simple steps before hiring anyone to work in or around their home," David Fogt, California Contractors State Licensing Board Registrar, said in a recent press release.

For anyone performing home repairs and remodeling, its important to make sure you're qualified for the job. With dozens of contractor licensing and renewal options available through Zack Academy, there's no reason for any person on a job site to be unlicensed. Although California's tragedy is an extreme example, the safety of the community should be the priority of all contractors.

To learn more about the sting, read the press release. To learn more about contractor licensing and renewal courses, visit Zack Academy.

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