Contact

Wendel Rosen

Garret Murai
WENDEL, ROSEN, BLACK & DEAN LLP
1111 Broadway, 24th Floor
Oakland, California 94607
T: 510.834.6600
F: 510.834.1928
E: gmurai@wendel.com

46 Responses to “Contact”

  1. Todd Budde

    I googled California Attorney false construction claims and found your blog. How can I post a question and look for guidance? I am an Independent Insurance broker in California specializing in contractor insurance. This morning, my roofing contractor called me. He has an individual who is asking him to pay for her medical visit so she can go see a doctor from something that supposedly happened days ago. He is confident it is a false accusation. How can I get the details of the incident posted for and look for responses? It’s an interesting situation and I’d like to post the scenerio at my site http://www.contractornews.org. In fact, you are welcome to write a case study and post it there with a link to your firm. I’m going to contact the carrier now. But, I really don’t want to open a claim. She is threatening to get an attorney.

    Reply
    • Garret Murai

      Thanks for your comment Todd. I’m always hesitant giving general advice regarding specific situations. I’d be happy to discuss with you if you contact me directly.

      Reply
  2. Angela Villanueva

    Garreth., thanks for your site. It is helping me with this lawsuit litigation Contractor filed against me. I was a complete ignorant on construction projects ,so contractor fooled us, with a contract of $510.000, ,filing a building permit for $130.000 before LADBS, and now, he stills wants to collect another $107.000 on a old building change of use, worth $500.000., so meaning change of use will cost 130% cost.. when no structural changes were made. Contractor gave the budget on Drawings not even approved or a permit ready to be issue…by permitting Agency LADBS. Many flaws in this project, but I getting educated in order to fight in Court. This Contractor already had 12 cases on superior court , same litigation. He knows how to frame property owners and squeeze money from them, legally…based on ignorance of property owners.

    Reply
  3. Mike Henry

    I’ve been trying to find information on the CSLB website or to talk with a live person but have been unsuccessful. Any suggestions?

    I’m trying to track down any legal requirements for the signs that are to be placed inside a vehicle at a job site that identifies the contractor. I think they are supposed to be plastic but I’m not even sure about that.

    Again, any suggestions.

    Reply
    • Garret Murai

      Hi Mike. If by “signs” you mean the requirement that all advertising include the license number of the contractor, I am unaware of any statutes or regulations that permit license numbers to be used on signs “inside” a vehicle as opposed to “on” a vehicle.

      Business and Professions Code section 7030.5 provides that “[e]very person licensed pursuant to this chapter shall include his license number in: (a) all construction contracts; (b) subcontracts and calls for bid; and (c) all forms of advertising, as prescribed by the re- gistrar of contractors, used by such a person.”

      California Code of Regulations section 861 provides in turn that “[a]s 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.” (emphasis added).

      I’ve usually had luck reaching a “live” person using the CLSB’s main number at (800) 321-CSLB (2752) although you do have to go through a number telephone prompts.

      Reply
  4. Tamera

    I am the executive assistant for the full construction division of a construction company that is relatively new to “full construction” projects. In the past they have kept just a “correspondence” file for all email correspondence between them and the client.

    As the company grows and diversifies I think it is important for us to be more organized in our filing. Do you have any suggestions from a “potential future litigation” standpoint for effective categorization of files (especially correspondence)?

    Reply
    • Garret Murai

      Hi Tamera. For correspondence files I’m not too picky and like to see letters and emails in chronological order. But, in addition to a correspondence file, I like to see bid documents and takeoffs in a file, contracts, general conditions and specifications in another file, change orders and change directives in another file, requests for information in another file, pay applications in another file, and so on. Of course, wish though we might, rare is it that we (attorneys) get what we want.

      Reply
  5. Joel

    I am preparing to submit an application for a “B” license and will function as the RME for a corp. I have over three years qualifying experience here in California, and an additional 2.5 years working for a contractor in Wisconsin, and 2 years completed at a 4 year university in Engineering. will out of state experience as a journeyman/site supervisor be accepted or should I try and get credit for my engineering studies or should i just list it all?

    Thanks!

    Reply
    • Garret Murai

      There is no restriction on where you get your experience, or for that matter, your education. I would list it all. Just make sure you have adequate backup documentation.

      Reply
  6. Cynthia Fine

    Who is authorized to sign a lien release as the Claimant? Should it only be the President, VP or owner of the company; or can the Accounting Manager or Office Manager sign?

    Reply
    • Garret Murai

      Hi Cynthia. A release does not need to be signed by an officer of thr company. So long as the person signing has authorization to do so, they can sign the release without affecting its validity.

      Reply
  7. Sandy Villanueva

    Hello,

    I just read your article about Preliminary Notices – it helped significantly. However, I do have a couple of questions now. What about conditional/unconditional progress releases. Do the they override the initial prelim? And since the prelims are “good” for only 20 days – then what about long term projects? Do you have to keep re-sending the prelims out?

    Thank you for your time and your blog! ;o)

    Reply
    • Garret Murai

      Hi Sandy. Waivers and releases do not effect, or “override” as you put it, a preliminary notice. A preliminary notice is required for certain potential claimants to record a mechanics lien, serve a stop notice, or make a claim on a payment bond. A waiver and release, on the other hand, waives either conditionally or unconditionally, a potential claimant’s right to record a mechanics lien, serve a stop notice, or make a claim on a payment bond. A person who provides a waiver and release, however, does not “override” or otherwise make ineffective a previously served preliminary notice. The preliminary notice is still good. The person providing the waiver and release is simply waiving his, her or its rights to record a mechanics lien, serve a stop notice, or make a claim on a payment bond for the funds being paid, in the case of conditional waivers and releases, or which have been paid, in the case of unconditional waivers and releases. I hope this clarifies things.

      Reply
  8. Mia

    Hi – Can you tell me if a federal felony conviction for fraud should have been disclosed on the CSLB license renewal form of a contractor? I can see it must be disclosed on the application, but what about the renewal, if it occurred while the license was already issued and active? Also regarding court cases, a judgement against a contractor must be disclosed within 90 days, is that correct. A former employee lawsuit would qualify?

    Reply
    • Garret Murai

      Hi Mia. I am unaware of any requirement that a felony conviction be disclosed other than what is required on the CSLB’s forms. However, with respect to judgments, a contractor is required to report a “construction-related civil court judgment” to the CSLB within 90 days of the judgment date.

      Reply
  9. Khoa Truong

    Is it legal (per CA Department of Insurance and Contractors State Licensing Board) to operate a Public Insurance Adjusting & General Construction (Class-B) business under the same company and not be considered a conflict of interest, when you don’t commingle the projects together?

    The company would keep the public insurance adjusting projects separately from the construction projects, and would not be involved in a project where the company services the policyholder/homeowner as public adjuster settling the claim as well as a general contractor performing the work for the same claim settlement.

    What if the company commingles the services for a project? Thank you.

    Reply
      • Mia

        Khoa – I believe it would be a conflict of interest if the public adjuster manages, refers or controls any aspect of the repair work by involving the affiliated contractor in any way. What is the purpose for linking these businesses together if not to further profit the contractor? I would bet they currently are doing some unauthorized practice of public adjusting (UPPA), handling the claims for the homeowner illegally, and now trying to make it legit. It doesn’t serve the insured/homeowner in any way to go with a company this cozy with a contractor. A licensed public adjuster is supposed to be an unbiased advocate for the insured. This raises huge red flags in my mind. Maybe check with the National Assoc of Public Insurance Adjusters and see what they think.

  10. Blake Terpstra

    Hi, I moved to California about a a year ago from Michigan. I had maintained a builders license and had a business doing remodeling there for years. Since I moved to California, it has been expired for about a year now. In Michigan, you have 3 years to get it re-instated before you have to take the test again. I’m wondering what I have to do to get a California builders license. Do I have to take the test? And what else I might have to do? Thanks much. Blake

    Reply
    • Garret Murai

      Hi Blake. Unfortunately, California does not have a reciprocity agreement with Michigan so you will need to sit for the law and business exam and trade exam for the licensing classification you are seeking. You will also need to provide proof of your experience. If you take a look at the “Blueprints” section of our blog you can find further information on how to obtain a California contractor’s license.

      Reply
  11. Deborah Eskenazi

    Hi Garret –
    With a Public Works contract, can the General Contractor suspend work due to large non-payment? The Owner has not paid for several months. (i.e. budget issues) Thanks! Deborah

    Reply
    • Garret Murai

      Hi Deborah. In general, no. There is a stop work remedy which allows a GC to stop work if it is not paid but it only applies to private works projects. In addition, my guess is that your contract includes a provision which states that you cannot stop work for any reason including payment disputes. If not, then you might, but it’s dangerous ground if you do, as you may be found to have abandoned the project which is a regulatory violation which could subject you to enforcement action by the CSLB.

      Reply
  12. C Hull

    Garret,
    I am currently assisting my boss in the process of applying for a General A Engineering license. He has been licensed in different states for over 2 decades now but hopes to soon do work in CA. What we are having difficulty with is the work experience section that one of his employees has filled out numerous times and keeps getting denied. He has listed project management of a lift span bridge, supervising and coordinating engineering, execution plans. Project Engineer and Project Manager of transport, lifting, upending storage and setting of precast arches. Those are the specific trade duties that he performs but I’m not clear on what they are asking as he is the licensed owner in his home state and numerous other states (unfortunately not Utah or Nevada) but we keep getting the same response that this is unacceptable and they need a list of specific duties.

    Reply
    • Garret Murai

      Hi C. Hull. Unfortunately, without seeing what was submitted to the CSLB and what was received in response I can’t be terribly helpful. I would try calling the CSLB representative to ask what is missing so that you can ask follow-up questions, if necessary. If that doesn’t work, you can try a service such as http://www.contractorslicenseguru.com to help review and complete the paperwork. The owner, Phil Cocciante, is a very knowledgeable and friendly guy and his fees are reasonable.

      Reply
  13. Nelson

    Garret, good morning, hope you enjoy the holiday…

    I am a homeowner, I hired a person recommended to me by a friend that had an addition done on his house.
    We demolished our old house and built a new one including the foundation on 2007.. new house was completed 12/2007. We moved in the same month 2007. I I received a Order to Comply last month. According to the LADBS Inspector. We need a drain curb installed and a reconnection sewer permit issued and needs to be approved. He also stated that there were some corrections notices issued, since 2012 and 2013, and that were never taken care of. He said” some dropped the ball and no one followed up after that.” NO CofO has been issued for this residence!!
    Thanks God, I was able to find the Contractor, but he claims “that they used the existing pipe to the sewer. According to the Permit # 07010~70000~02385 , on the “Permit Application Clearance Information” Box, Sewer Availability is Cleared by Inspector SHAN XU on 07/09/2007. Therefore he does not wants to admit responsibility for this issue. Isn’t his responsibility to make sure CofO is issued?

    it has been almost 9 years since we have been living here after the house was completed.
    Any recommendation, suggestion and help would be greatly appreciated.
    Thank you in advance for you help.

    Sincerely,
    Nelson

    Reply
    • Garret Murai

      Hi Nelson. From the building department’s perspective it doesn’t matter who did the improvements. If you sold the house, for example,the building department would look to the current homeowner, not you, to correct any non-permitted or non-code compliant improvements. You may, however, have your own claims against the person who you contracted with to build the improvements. The statute of limitations for latent defects in California is 10 years.

      Reply
      • Nelson

        Thank you for your quick reply.

        How and where can I go to open a claim . I checked the small claims court and the form requires to put down an amount for sueing. According the the Department of Building and Safety permits and work should be around $2,000.00. What would you suggest I should do?

        Thank you again in advance for your reply.

  14. Greg Fralick

    Hi Garret,
    Unfortunately I find myself acting as my own counsel in a claim on my Contractor’s bond. The bond company had paid out on a claim brought in April of 2013. I had purchased a bond in 1984 and renewed it after each bond/license period had expired up until I let it expire in August of 2011. The house that the claim is against was finished in August of 2007 and the bond expired in or around October of that year. I renewed for 2 years with the same company and when that expired I renewed again for 2 more years. According to my bond “such action must be brought within 2 years after the expiration of the license period during which the act or omission occurred.”

    I’m currently writing an Opposition to this Motion for Summary Judgement and my argument is that the claim period for the bond for this period, when the house was finished in 2007, had expired 2 years later in 2009. The bond also has a clause talking about running in full force for successive years but I don’t see how that can be valid when it clearly states that claims must be brought in that 2 year expiration window.

    I would like to point out to the judge that if I had purchased a bond from Surety X that expired in 2007 and then I bought a “successive” bond from Surety Y that expired in 2009, then went back to Surety X and bought a new “successive” bond that expired in 2011 then Surety X would not even entertain a claim brought 21 months later in 2013 for a project that ended in 2007.

    My question is, is there any case law that I can use to make my point?

    Any help you can give me would be greatly appreciated as I’m having to file this by August 23, next week.

    Sincerely,
    Greg

    Reply
    • Garret Murai

      Hi Greg. I can’t offer you legal advice since I’m not your counsel and, if I were your counsel, I would want to see the terms of your bond. A more fundamental question though is where is the surety in this litigation? If a claim had been made against your license bond then the claimant should have either: (1) followed the surety’ claim procedures and filed a claim with the surety; or (2) filed a lawsuit (as it seem has been done here) and named the surety as a defendant. As the principal (not the surety of the license bond) you are only a nominal defendant on the bond claim. As such, unless I’m missing something, if there’s a claim preclusion issue as you suggest, the surety should be responding to his issue since it is the surety who is on the hook for paying out on the claim (of course, you likely have a personal guaranty with the surety, but the surety can’t be sure that you can pay them back).

      Reply
  15. Greg Fralick

    Hi Garret,

    Sorry about the confusion and I certainly appreciate what you can and can’t give me since you are not my counsel.

    Yes, you are correct. A law suit was filed against me and the surety. I was given bad advice by my counsel at the time, they were provided by my General Liability Insurance company who was defending me. I was told to try not to be served and he had asked the bond company to direct all correspondence to him. I finally was served publicly 9 months later but didn’t find out for another 6 months after that. Meanwhile the bond company, without letting any of us know, settled with my former clients who had filed the original claim. My General Liability company settled on the remaining portion of the claim, never giving me a chance to bring in my subcontractors who were at fault. Now I either have to sue the subs at my own expense or try and prove the bond company should never have settled.

    So, I am now answering a Motion for Summary Judgement and the only argument I have is what I explained before, that the time to file a claim on the bond had expired 2 years after the bond period had expired in 2007. The surety is claiming that the bond runs continuous until I no longer renew the bond meaning a person can file a claim against me up until 2 years after I let my bond with this surety lapse, which was 2011. The original claim was filed 16 months later and within the 2 year period if my bond truly does run continuous.

    My question is, is there any case law I might quote that stands in my favor perhaps proving that a bond period can not run in succession? I hope that makes sense.

    Thanks,
    Greg

    Reply
    • Garret Murai

      Hi Greg. Business and Professions Code section 7071.11 provides that, except for claims by workers for wages or fringe benefits, an action against a license bond must be brought within two years after the expiration of the license period during which the act or omission occurred. There are two issues here. The first, is that a claim against a license bond must be made no later than two years after the expiration of your license period. And, second, a claim must be made against the license bond that was in effect at the time of the acts or omission giving rise to the claim against the license bond.

      Reply
  16. david norwood

    Garret,

    I am considering purchasing a Class B general contractor business there in California. I have just started my research into this opportunity. The owner has told me that, in purchasing the business, I am aquiring the Class B license that will stay with the business. I will not need or be required to take the ‘exam’ to maintain the Class B license. He said that he is ‘still on the hook’ for the next 5 years if, for some reason, I do not fulfill my obligations as the owner of this general contractor business. Is all of this info accurate?

    Reply
    • Garret Murai

      Hi David. What you were told is not accurate. A construction company in California is required to have a “qualifier.” That is, an individual who has a contractor’s license (and in the case of business entities other than sole proprietorships, the individual’s license is associated with the business entity, although a separate license number is given to the business entity) and who is responsible for the day-to-day construction activities of the business entity. Thus if you purchase a construction company and following purchase the “qualifier” no longer associates his or her license with the business entity, then you will need to find another qualifier.

      Reply
  17. accidentalgastonomist

    Hello and thank you for your blog! We have just discovered that our contractor was not paying the subs on our construction project and much money is owed on it. We are very close to final CO but of course subs aren’t showing up to finish the final bits needed. We found out because subs are now starting to come directly to us for payment and one has filed a lien against our house! The problem is that since we are so close to completion we don’t owe as much on the contract with the contractor as the subs are owed by him. We have paid some subs directly and we will simply not pay the contractor at the end but there is at least 40K of outstanding bills beyond the retention we had with the GC. What do we do? Do we go after the bond? Do we help subs go after the bond? Do we have to sue him? There are many little things to finish still on the house and some things aren’t working but we can’t even get someone to come finish and fix the work. That and they may destroy our credit by taking out liens! Any advise greatly appreciated!

    Reply
    • Garret Murai

      Hi accidentalgastronomist. I’m sorry to hear about what you are going through. This is the reason why you should have requested conditional and unconditional waivers and releases with each payment you made so that you could be assured that your payments were reaching the subcontractors and material suppliers who performed work on your project. You have a couple of options. You can make a claim against the general contractor’s license bond and/or sue the general contractor for any payments you need to make to the general contractor’s subcontractors and material suppliers.

      Reply
  18. Taylor Heeney

    I currently have a Stop Notice filed on a customer. The Stop Notice is withholding all retention on the project. But the customer filed Chapter 11 Bankruptcy, what will happen now with my stop notice? Will the city continue to hold the funds? Are we no longer eligible to be paid?

    Reply
    • Garret Murai

      Hi Taylor. This is one of the scenarios where a stop payment notice is one of your best remedies. Because the stop payment notice has stopped construction funds from flowing to your now bankrupt customer, those funds are not part of your customer’s bankruptcy estate, which means that those funds are not subject to secured creditor claims while you are subject to the Bankruptcy Code’s automatic stay. You can find out more information about bankruptcy on a construction project in our “Blueprints” section.

      Reply
  19. rubenrojasconstruction@gmail.com

    Hello Garret, my name is Ruben. I currently carry a class B license in California. You recently answered an email of mine regarding the the topic RMO. Thank you for that. I guess what I’m looking for is someone that can tell me if I understand how this whole RMO thing works. As a licensed contractor (myself) operating as a “sole proprietor”, If someone unlicensed asked me if I can act as there RMO and I accept, the state would issue a separate license and I may retain my original license just as long I am at least 20% involved in licensee’s business. Is this correct?

    Reply
    • Garret Murai

      Hi Ruben, the 20% ownership requirement would only apply if your company was a corporation or LLC, not a sole proprietorship, since you are not a qualifier of your own license.

      Reply
  20. Natalie Stephan

    Hi Garret, fantastic blog with very helpful information. Quick question – if a subcontractor records a mechanics lien late (past the 90-day timeframe after completion of work), would the same process be used to expunge it as an untimely action to foreclose on a lien (in other words, would you still do a petition to expunge per Civil Code section 8480/8482)? It’s a similar scenario in that it would be an invalid lien, but I’m not sure if one would have to do a petition pursuant to section 8482 or go through the litigation process of filing a complaint. Thanks so much!

    Reply
    • Garret Murai

      Hi Natalie. Thanks for reading. The mechanics lien expungement procedure under Civil Code section 8480 et seq. only applies to “stale” mechanics liens (i.e., mechanics liens where a lawsuit has not been filed within 90 days of recordation of the mechanics lien) not “late recorded” mechanics liens. For late recorded mechanics lien (assuming the claimant timely files suit within 90 days of recordation of the mechanics lien) your remedy will likely be limited to filing a motion for summary judgment or going to trial.

      Reply
  21. Sandy Rath

    Garret –

    Thanks so much for your informative site and blog!

    We have a new project (we are a subcontractor) that the GC put the incorrect project name on the prelien info sheet. The address, owner, etc is correct but they have it listed as a clubhouse remodel when, in fact, it is a ground up apartment building. Should I re-send my preliminary notice or am I covered?

    Reply
    • Garret Murai

      Hi Sandy. Thanks for reading. I would serve an “amended” preliminary notice to avoid an argument later that a preliminary notice wasn’t served within 20 days of work being performed.

      Reply

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