Ask the Contractors Board …
Experts Answer Common Home Improvement Questions
By Bert Sandman, Chair
California Contractors State License Board

Sacramento: Do you have questions about hiring and managing building contractors? The California Contractors State License Board (CSLB) has answers. For more information, or to check out a contractor’s license, bond and workers’ compensation insurance information, visit the CSLB Web site at
Q: My grandmother is getting ready to repair some storm damage to her home but she does not speak English. Although I will be assisting her in hiring a contractor, I want her to read about the hiring process for her own peace of mind. Are there CSLB materials available in other languages that explain this process?
A: A number of CSLB publications are available in foreign languages. They are available for free and can be ordered from the CSLB website at The materials cover topics such as what you should know before you hire a contractor and simple tips to follow when managing one. These should provide your grandmother with the information she needs to be an informed consumer.
Q: I hired a contractor to work on landscaping my front yard last month. He went way over budget and now I am broke and displeased. I don’t know what to do about it, please help!
A: Hopefully you have a signed written contract that spells out everything the contractor agreed to do, as well as how much it would cost. As long as there weren’t changes to the contract, the contractor would be required to complete the work for the set price. Written “change orders” should reflect changes to the contract, including price changes. It may be difficult to prove the contractor was at fault otherwise. If you can’t resolve the problem with your licensed contractor, the CSLB may be able to help you through mediation, arbitration and referrals to other agencies. Learn more about filing a construction complaint by clicking on the CSLB Web site, You can also download a complaint form, or have one sent to you by calling 1-800-321-CSLB (2752).
Q: I had a new roof installed a few months ago and I am wondering how long I should expect it to last. Should I expect to install another one in the next few years, and what can I do to increase its life?
A: Most roofs, if properly installed and maintained, last about 20 years, so I wouldn’t anticipate you needing a new one for some time. The best way to preserve your roof is to stay off of it. Don’t walk on the roof unless you are repairing it. Also, keep the gutters clean of debris to avoid clogs, which can cause flooding and subsequent water damage to the roof. Additionally, when small leaks or storm damage do occur, have it fixed right away to prevent the problem from worsening. Learn more in the CSLB publication, Tips for Hiring a Roofing Contractor. You can download it by clicking on
(Bert Sandman is the Chair of the Contractors State License Board. The Contractors State License Board operates under the umbrella of the California Department of Consumer Affairs. The CSLB licenses and regulates California's 299,000 contractors, and investigates more than 20,000 complaints against contractors annually. In fiscal year 2004-05, the CSLB helped consumers get more than $36 million in restitution.)


Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
2004 . All Rights Reserved.