Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Unlicensed Bathtub Reglazing: California

As the owner of a Professional Reglazing Company (PKB Reglazing, Inc) that has completed over 9,500 reglazing jobs in Southern California, employs 14 technicians, 5 office staff, and carries Workers Compensation and General Liability Insurance, I have felt the need lately to write about the deception among internet advertising for "Professional" Reglazing Companies. 

Over time I have come to see how Contractors and Handymen seem to slip under the radar of the Contractors State License Board of carrying expenses and costs. 

Claiming to only do work under $500 (labor and material): This is probably the most commonly used excuse for a contractor or handyman to getting a license. It is true that if you do a job under $500 it is legal, however what most do is barely slide the price under $500 or convince you that breaking it up into separate $500 payments is acceptable. Or breaking up the job into separate parts so that each invoice will be under $500...this is illegal. 
Here is a video showing SWIFT (Contractors State License Boards "Statewide Investigative Fraud Team" setting up a few different Unlicensed Contractors and then arresting them on the spot. 

The one thing to think about is, why would someone be willing to run their own business, but not take the step to getting licensed. It personally costed me $500 to get licensed as a Bathtub Reglazer. One of the answers is they do not want to go through the Required Background Check or Fingerprinting process. 

Stating they are exempt from Workers Compensation Insurance: The Contractor will state that he alone does the work and has 0 employees. The law states that if you have one or more employees you are required to have Workers Comp. There are many reglazing companies that state this but have employees entering your home. Without workers compensation insurance, the homeowner becomes the responsible party. This also allow the handyman or contractor to reduce his prices, pay someone under the table, not have to report the employee to the state for taxes, etc......simply unfair.

A simple way to check on this is to ask the person on the phone the name of the Technician that will be doing your work? If they give a name different from their own...then they need to have workers comp.

Some who are licensed advertise that they are bonded: This is not as obvious but advertising that you are BONDED is actually illegal. Simple fact but posted by many to try to make you feel safe. Just keep in mind that anyone who does this does not know the law enough not to.

Below are some definitions and codes from the State License Board Reference Book that bring specific clarification on the Laws. 

“Advertising” Defined 
As used in Section 7030.5 of the Code, the term “advertising” includes but is not limited to the following: any card, contract proposal, sign, billboard, lettering on vehicles registered in this or any other state, brochure, pamphlet, circular, newspaper, magazine, airwave or any electronic transmission, and any form of directory under any listing denoting “Contractor” or any word or words of a similar import or meaning requesting any work for which a license is required by the Contractors License Law. (Authority cited: Section 7008, Business and Professions Code. Reference: Section 7030.5, Business and Professions Code.) 

§ 7071.13.   Reference to bond in advertising, soliciting, or other presentments as ground for suspension of license Any reference by a contractor in his advertising, soliciting, or other presentments to the public to any bond required to be filed pursuant to this chapter is a ground for the suspension of the license of such 
contractor. Added Stats 1963 ch 1972 § 4, as B & P C § 7071.8. Renumbered Stats 1967 ch 1604 
§ 4, operative July 1, 1969.


General Requirements 
All contractors are required to submit proof of workers’ compensation insurance coverage as a condition of licensure, to maintain a license, to activate an inactive license, or to renew a license, unless they are 
exempt from this requirement. (See B&P Code §7125.1.) CHAPTER 2. YOUR EXISTING LICENSE: MAINTAINING AND CHANGING IT 35 
Exemptions Contractors who do not have employees working for them (except C-39 Roofing licensees) are exempt from the requirement for workers’ compensation insurance, but they will be required to file a certification of this exemption with the Registrar. Neither insurance coverage nor the exemption is required for an inactive license. NOTE: All contractors with a C-39 Roofing classification are required by B&P section 7125 to have a Certificate of Workers’ Compensation Insurance or a Certificate of Self-Insurance on file with CSLB and are not eligible for exemption.

Employer Liability 
An employer-contractor is REQUIRED to provide weekly benefit 
payments (indemnity) and necessary medical and hospital treatment 

to all of his or her employees for work-incurred injuries and illness. 
This liability of the employer extends to employed relatives on the 
same basis as any other employee. 
If the employer has one or more employees, even part-time, he or she 

is required to insure for workers’ compensation claims. An “owneroperator” or “independent contractor” should consult an attorney to 
determine insurance liability and should pay particular attention to 
Labor Code §2750.5

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Bathtub Reglazing: Lead Poisoning: PKB Reglazing

In 1996, Dr. Marcia Stone, President of Hybrivet Systems and inventor of LeadCheck® Swabs, wrote an article about an unsuspecting source of lead exposure: the bathtub. Fourteen years later, the statistics may have changed slightly, but undoubtedly, there are still bathtubs that leach considerable amounts of lead. How many people do you know have remodeled their bathrooms and swapped out their bathtub in that time? Not many. It is for that reason that I find the following article as relevant today as it was then:

Each day, children bathe in it, play in it and are washed carefully in it. Yet, according to a special report on the April 19th, 1995 edition of Good morning America, porcelain glazed bathtubs are one of America’s most unexpected sources of lead exposure for children. At the time, lead poisoning was considered the number one environmental health danger for children by the Centers for Disease Control.

The nationally televised report cited a study designed by Hybrivet Systems, Inc, and conducted by a tub refinishing company located in Atlanta, Ga. The study found that approximately 64 percent of the tubs tested had leachable lead on the surface.

The tested tubs were of varying age and came from a wide range of domestic and import companies.

Good Morning America’s report focused on the Thomas family from a small town in Massachusetts. In spite of their efforts to identify and eliminate lead exposure in their home, their two children continued to have very high blood levels, requiring continuing medical treatments. The older child had a blood lead level of 47 micrograms per deciliter, while the second child(age 7 months) showed a level greater than 20 micrograms per deciliter.

Aside from negligible lead in the household dust, the only source of lead that could be identified in the children’s environment at the time was the lead-based paint in their home. Even though it was not peeling, they spend over 15,000 to have it professionally removed. Away from home during the abatement process(2 months), the children’s blood lead levels decreased to nearly normal levels (1 to 9 micrograms per deciliter). Within a week after moving back into the now lead-fee and lead safe home, both children again showed significant elevated blood lead levels.

The family then purchased a home lead test kit called LeadCheck® Swabs to test their ceramic ware. When her dished tested negative for lead, Mrs. Thomas then used a LeadCheck® Swab on the bathtub—the only remaining item in the house not yet tested for lead. The Swab immediately turned pink, indicating the tub was leaching dangerous levels of lead. Every time the children bathed in the tub and played with their toys, they ingested lead simply by touching the tub and putting their wet fingers in their mouths. The children ceased using the tube for their baths and within a few months their blood lead levels returned to nearly 10 micrograms per deciliter.

When she first tested the bathtub, Patricia Thomas immediately called the LeadCheck® Information Hotline to ask questions. The company was surprised by this potential lead source, and sent its top R&D specialist to investigate. Numerous follow-up tests confirmed the initial finding—the bathtub was the problem.

Continued testing of this and other bathtubs has confirmed the presence of lerachable lead in porcelain-glazed bathroom fixtures. A baby wipe tubbed on the botton of a tub picked up over 1000 micrograms of lead. Hands rubbed along the side of a LeadCheck® positive tub were shown to pick up significant amounts of lead. Bath water allowed to sit in LeadCheck® positive tubs leaches lead in amounts exceeding 50 parts per billion. Washcloths soaked in bath water and rubbed on the bottom of the tub concentrated significant amounts of lead.
The Atlanta tub refinishing company surveyed more than 750 bathtubs and found that, overall, 62% of all porcelain glazed tubs tested positive with LeadCheck® Swabs. Specifically, 77% of the porcelain-glazed cast iron tubs and 25% of the porcelain-glazed steel tubs tested positive. This source of lead most likely represents a significant exposure to only very young children with their high level of hand to mouth activity and propensity to drink the water during bath time.

The Environmental Protection Agency estimates the more than 57 million US homes have dangerously high lead levels. While bathtubs are a newly identified source of lead, other sources include deteriorating lead paint, water, plumbing, dust and ceramics, to name a few. According to Dr. Stone, the best solution is for the public to empower itself with information on the problem.

Actual Article:
All Southern California Counties: Los Angeles County, Orange County, Riverside County, San Bernardino County, Ventura County: 
Showroom Located in Canyon Country / Santa Clarita

Monday, July 11, 2011

Contractor sting nabs sex offender, elder abuse suspect

A sting targeting unlicensed contractors netted an elder abuse suspect and a registered sex offender in Eureka Tuesday. Below is a press release from the Contractors State License Board.

SACRAMENTO – A man awaiting trial in Butte County for felony theft from an elder and misdemeanor unlicensed contracting was one of 14 suspected unlicensed contractors nabbed during a Contractors State License Board (CSLB) Statewide Investigative Fraud Team (SWIFT) sting in Eureka this week.

The undercover operation in cooperation with the Humboldt County District Attorney’s Office (DA) was held in a Eureka home on February 2, 2010. CSLB and DA investigators also conducted sweeps of construction sites on February 3 and 4, 2010, to ensure projects are being undertaken by licensees with the proper workers’ compensation insurance coverage.

During Tuesday’s sting, SWIFT investigators posed as homeowners, seeking bids for projects including painting, tile, flooring, concrete, and fencing. They invited suspected unlicensed contractors who advertised online, in local publications, the phone book, or business cards who were in violation of state advertising guidelines for contractors. California Business & Professions (B&P) Code requires contractors to put their license number in all advertisements. Those who are not licensed may do work valued at less than $500 for labor and materials, but their ads must state that they are not a licensed contractor.

Twelve suspects received Notices to Appear (NTA) in court for contracting without a license; eleven face additional charges for illegal advertising. Their court date is set for March 1, 2010. Two other suspects received administrative citations; one for contracting without a license and illegal advertising, and the other for illegal advertising.

One of those suspects receiving an NTA, Michael Bluthardt, 52, of Eureka was taken to the Humboldt County Jail, where he was booked and released. His Butte County trial is set for March 5, 2010. Another suspected phony contractor, Nelson Henry Guy, 68, of Hydesville, is a registered sex offender. Guy was one of those issued an NTA for contracting without a license.

“This operation points out the importance that consumers check to make sure a contractor they hire is state-licensed,” said CSLB Registrar. “Some of these are people you would not want in your home, around your family and valuables.” Since 2005, CSLB has conducted criminal background checks on all new applicants for licenses and those adding to or changing their license classifications.

CSLB provides many helpful consumer publications that can be downloaded or ordered from its Web site or, or by calling, toll-free 1-800-321-CSLB (2752).

CSLB urges consumers to remember the following tips when hiring a contractor:

o Be especially hesitant when approached by someone offering home improvement services door-to-door.

o Verify the contractor’s license by checking online at, or, or via CSLB’s automated phone system at 1-800-321-CSLB (2752), and ask to see a photo identification to make sure you’re dealing with the correct person

o Don’t pay more than 10% down or $1,000, whichever is less. There is an exception to this for about two dozen contractors who have special bonds for consumer protection that are noted on the CSLB Web site.

o Don’t pay in cash, and don’t let the payments get ahead of the work.

o Check references, and get at least 3 bids and a written contract before your project begins.

o Contact CSLB if you have a complaint against a contractor.

The Contractors State License Board operates under the umbrella of the California Department of Consumer Affairs. CSLB licenses and regulates about 310,000 contractors and is regarded as one of the leading consumer protection agencies in the United States. In fiscal year 2008-09, CSLB helped recover nearly $36 million in ordered restitution for consumers.


Saturday, March 12, 2011

How do I find the right licensed contractor?

How do I find the right licensed contractor?
This step highlights some of the different things you can do to help you find the right licensed contractor.

Make sure the contractor is licensed.

All contractor advertisements, whether it be an ad in the phone book or newspaper, a flyer that shows up at your front door, or the company's name on the side of a truck, must have the contractor's state license number. You can check license status on-line or call 1-800-321-CSLB (2752).

PKB Reglazing #941976

REMEMBER Most licensed contractors are competent, honest, hardworking and financially responsible. However, most of the problems the CSLB sees could be prevented if homeowners knew their home improvement rights and took responsibility for their project. A responsible and informed consumer can work more effectively with reputable contractors, and can avoid being victimized by unscrupulous or unlicensed operators.

Shop around before hiring a contractor.

Get at least three written bids on your project, and make sure you're comparing bids based on identical plans, specifications and scope of work. Do not automatically accept the lowest bid. In fact, you should beware of any bid that is substantially lower than the others. It probably indicates that the contractor made a mistake or is not including all the work quoted by his or her competitors. You may be headed for a dispute with your contractor if you accept an abnormally low bid. It is also possible that this contractor will cut corners or do substandard work in order to make a profit on the job.

When the contractor comes to your house to give you a bid, ask to see their pocket license, along with a picture I.D. You want to make sure the person you're dealing with is the same person on the license.

Contractors can also hire salespeople to work for them. Those people must be registered with the CSLB. Ask to see their registration card, along with a picture I.D.

REMEMBER Contractors are required to have their license number on their business card and on all bids and contracts. Seeing the number there doesn't necessarily mean the license is valid. Check the license status on this Website. Although an unlicensed operator may give you a low bid, the risks of possible financial and legal consequences you may face outweigh any benefits a lower bid may seem to offer.

Ask for personal recommendations.

Friends and family may have recently had similar projects completed. If they are satisfied with the results, chances are you will be too. Other good reference sources include local customers, material suppliers, subcontractors, and financial institutions to check whether the contractor is financially responsible. If you are still unsure, you may also wish to check the contractor out with your local building department, trade association or union, consumer protection agency, consumer fraud unit, and the Better Business Bureau.

Verify the contractor's business location and telephone number.

A contractor who operates a business out of the back of a pickup truck with a cellular telephone may be difficult to find to complete a job or fix something that has gone wrong after the last bill is paid. You can find a licensed contractor's "address of record" on this website when you look up their license status.

Verify the contractor's workers' compensation and commercial general liability insurance coverage.

Ask to see a copy of the certificate of insurance, or ask for the name of the contractor's insurance carrier and agency to verify that the contractor has the insurance.

In California, if a contractor has employees, they're required to carry workers' compensation insurance. The importance of this cannot be overstated. If a worker is injured working on your property and the contractor doesn't have insurance, you could be liable to pay for injuries and rehabilitation. Your homeowner's insurance may or may not cover those costs. You should check with your insurance carrier to make sure the workers' compensation insurance coverage being provided by the contractor is adequate. Learn more from the California Department of Insurance.

Commercial general liability insurance is not required, however, it covers damage to your property. If the contractor does not carry general liability insurance, they should be able to explain how they would cover losses that would ordinarily be covered by insurance. If your contractor damages your property and doesn't carry commercial general liability insurance, you or your insurance policy could end up paying for damages.

A licensed contractor must provide you with information regarding both types of insurance in your written contract.

ALERT Effective January 1, 2007, all roofing contractors (C-39 classification) must carry workers' compensation insurance or have a valid Certification of Self-Insurance on file with the CSLB. This information is indicated when you review the status of a contractor's license on this Website.

Learn about the contractor's bonds.

California licened contractors are required to have a contractor's license bond. It's important to know what bonds do and do not cover. Some bonds are designed to protect you against substandard work that does not meet with local building codes. Bonds do not assure the financial or professional integrity or competency of a contractor. Institutional lenders such as savings and loans, insurance companies or commercial banks generally require licensed contractors to secure bonds for large jobs.

Bonds may be classified as:

Contractor's License Bonds

Licensed contractors are required to have a contractor's license bond of $12,500 (as of January 1, 2007). This bond is written to cover any project the contractor agrees to perform. But, be aware, this bond is often not enough to cover multiple complaints made against it or your project if it's worth more than he value of the bond.

Contract Bonds

Contract bonds guarantees both the completion of the job and payment for all labor and materials. In general, the bonding company will not have to pay more than the face amount of the bond. The cost of this bond is usually 1-2% of the contract price.

PKB Reglazing
(800) 951-5659
License #941976

What are the cost and quality of bathtub refinishing?

By Lee Wallender, Guide

Question: What are the cost and quality of bathtub refinishing?

"I am considering refinishing my tub [versus total replacement]...and need to know is this a scam and what is the average cost and is the quality is worth it?" -- M. Snohomish, WA

Answer: Bathtub refinishing is in danger of entering the pantheon of home remodeling semi scams--along with vinyl siding and replacement windows--yet I do not understand why. I suppose it is because, along with the windows and siding, it is viewed as a "cover up" measure rather than as a "real" way of dealing with the problem. I say - go for it! While not as complete as a full bathtub replacement, or even a bathtub liner, bathtub refinishing is a legitimate way of solving the problem of a nasty bathtub. Besides, bathtub liners come with their own set of problems: they can trap water and you lose the beauty of the tub itself (provided that you had a nice tub to begin with).

First of all, I do not recommend DIY bathtub refinishing. You need to hire a local company with the skills and, most importantly, right tools for the task.


Quality varies from company to company, and in an informal poll of some homeowners who have had tubs refinished, quality seems to hinge on one thing: preparation. A poorly prepared bathtub results in peeling paint and unhappy homeowners. Another common complaint is chips. Many homeowners report that their refinished tubs get chips within months of refinishing, after even normal use. It is not known, though, which company did the refinishing, what they did, how they prepared the surface, etc. Also, this does not seem to be an industry-wide complaint.


Cost also varies, but at the time of this writing (Summer 2008), most homeowners appear to be spending around $550 for the service. Some homeowners say that they have paid $250-$300 for bathtub refinishing, but these also tend to be the homeowners complaining about the poor quality.

PKB Reglazing
(800) 951-5659 xt. 103