Good Business Practice
I disagree with Quenda Behler Story in the article "Keep Your
License Current" (Legal, 9/06): I think the California Supreme
Court decision is correct.
She writes that the contractor "discovered he had allowed his
license to lapse." If you discover that you forgot to file your
income tax return, the IRS is going to assess a penalty and
interest on any money owed; filing your return late won't
change its demand for payment. The contractor's defense that he
immediately filed the necessary papers to get relicensed
doesn't change the fact that he violated the law by starting a
job without a valid license. Part of being a responsible
business is complying with the necessary licensing
Despite efforts by the CSLB (Contractors State License Board)
to require all contractors to be licensed, unlicensed
contractors continue to be a problem in California. Field
enforcement is nearly nonexistent, and a decision like this one
is an important tool for the CSLB to use in its efforts to
force licensing on all contractors. It may be a harsh penalty
for the unlicensed contractor to be unable to use the courts to
collect his money, but big problems require drastic solutions
and unlicensed contractors are a big problem.
Unlicensed contractors typically do not possess the bond
required for licensing or, if they have employees, a workers'
compensation policy. And they usually do not have general
liability insurance (which is not required to maintain a
license in California), further widening the gap between
licensed and unlicensed contractors in the cost of doing
While I enjoyed reading the article, I think the CSLB needs to
get tougher on unlicensed contractors. The kind of leniency Ms.
Behler Story advocates would only undermine its efforts to do
Mike Mowry, CEO
Vista Pointe Homes
Seal Beach, Calif.
Another Zany Decision
Regarding the story "Keep Your License Current," I wouldn't
think that the decision of the courts regarding nonpayment in
the People's Republic of Kalifornia (hereinafter referred to as
the PRK) surprised anyone. After all, is not the PRK home to
the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, that wonderful group that
has continually amazed a large part of the civilized world with
its zany decisions?
I lived in the PRK for some 17 years, but I bailed out some 29
years ago and came back to Texas, where I have had a reasonably
successful career as a home builder and remodeler, probably
without a lot of the headaches associated with building in the
I have also worked for the past 27 years as a part-time
instructor in the building construction technology department
at Austin Community College, sharing what little I do know with
what has been a truly wonderful group of folks. It is still
San Marcos, Texas
Raising the Bar
Jud Aley's article, "Prevent Errors With a Quality-Control
Checklist" (Business, 8/06), was truly insightful.
My husband and I own and operate a remodeling firm in Norwalk,
Conn., not far from Westport, where Mr. Aley's company is
located. Consistently, the biggest challenges that we face on
any of our projects — whether they be large kitchen
renovations or small powder-room remodels — are the
lack of communication between our project manager and our
subcontractors and the resulting lack of attention to detail.
The bottom line is the same: We end up behind on the production
schedule and on getting paid.
Thanks to Mr. Aley for sharing his insight into setting
expectations for higher standards on the job.
Builder Seeks Input From Other
I am a small general contractor with eight employees. I
recently discovered that two of my employees had done a side
job, for cash, for a recent customer.
I visited the customers to find out if they were happy with
the work we had done for them and if their experience with my
company was a good one; they agreed that it was.
In the past when my employees have taken on extra weekend work
— usually for someone they already knew outside of my
customer base — I have explained my position about
competing with me for work, and have also explained my
insurance and legal responsibilities. I asked for their
resignation if they were going to continue, and in some cases
I realize that this goes on in our industry, but I was
especially concerned about the most recent situation because it
involved a recent client. I offer all my employees the
opportunity to work overtime whenever they like.
How do other contractors handle this problem?
On The Edge Construction
Woodpecker Problem? Try
For some reason, woodpeckers seem to like to make holes in
cedar siding and trim, usually on newly constructed buildings
I have witnessed this phenomenon many times, usually in
coastal locations such as Nantucket and Long Island. None of
the buildings had any insect infestation.
The problem is easily corrected by applying a single cedar
shingle painted with fluorescent orange paint. In the cases
that I've seen, the shingle was nailed onto the siding at the
peak of the gable. I don't think it has to be over a hole
created by the woodpecker.
West Lebanon, N.H.