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10 Tips to Avoid Unscrupulous Contractors

State officials revoked Ross Rembac's contractor license after he allegedly cheated Lamorindans out of thousands of dollars. The Contractors' State License Board has 10 tips to steer clear of shady contractors.

On Friday, we posted a story about a  by state officials after allegedly bilking customers out of thousands of dollars over a span of several years. Identified in the article as “X,” the former Lafayette-based contractor named in the documents used to report the story is Ross Rembac, currently residing in Alamo.

Rembac’s alleged malfeasance may have been egregious enough to draw the attention of the Contra Costa District Attorney, but such violations are not uncommon. In 2010 and 2011, there were a total of 15 excessive payment complaints made by Lamorindans to the Contractors’ State License Board. There were 75 such complaints filed across Contra Costa County during the same period. Rembac couldn't have accounted for all of them. 

The CSLB has a list of 10 things consumers can do to protect themselves from unscrupulous contractors.

1 Hire only state-licensed contractors.

2 Check a contractor’s license number online at www.cslb.ca.gov or by calling 800.321.CSLB (2752).

3 Get at least three bids.

4 Get three references from each bidder and review past work in person.

5 Make sure all project expectations are in writing and only sign the contract if you completely understand the terms.

6 Confirm that the contractor has workers’ compensation insurance for employees.

7 Never pay more than 10 percent down or $1,000, whichever is less.* Don’t pay in cash.

8 Don’t let payments get ahead of the work.

9 Keep a job file of all papers relating to your project, including all payments.

10 Don’t make the final payment until you’re satisfied with the job

*There is an exception to this rule for about two dozen contractors who have filed a blanket performance and payment bond with the Registrar. This information is noted on the contractor’s license detail page on CSLB’s website

Tim Davis March 06, 2012 at 08:00 PM
Wow. I don't know what's more disturbing, the fact that these guys are ripping off big bucks or that people have that much money!! I sure don't have it!
carrera March 06, 2012 at 09:54 PM
The ten steps above are useful, but probably wouldn't have helped much against a guy like Rembac.
lovelafayette March 08, 2012 at 03:01 AM
Unlicensed contractors are criminals and have records.The very FIRST thing to do if you are contemplating contracting is to do a search of court records in counties you know he has worked. ROSS REMBAC has 8 cases in just Contra Costa County! Check out the CCC court website: http://www.cc-courts.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=Page.viewPage&pageId=1761&parentID=1749 My after the horse had left the barn search of CCC, Alameda and Solano Court records showed that my unlicensed contractor had a father, mother and wife all involved in many pool, window, and remodeling related court cases spanning decades. This gang of thieves should have all been charged under RICOH! Get extra proof of id. Copy the social security card, drivers license, ask where they bank and call the bank. Personally call all insurance and bonding companies. If they refuse your request for these additional pieces of ID or you find anything odd, DO NOT DO BUSINESS with them. Those ID items can be very helpful if you need legal assistance.

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