Does Your Contractor Need a License?

Does your state require that you be a licensed contractor to install window film on a building or home? Many states do and it can be a real protection for both consumers and licenced contractors. For instance, in the state of California anyone performing construction work in California on jobs that total $500 dollars or more in labor and materials must be licensed by CSLB. There are few exceptions, and no, window tinting whether it be commercial or residential is not one of those exceptions. Despite these laws it is not hard to find companies that perform window tinting unlicensed. Some even use their business license number in place of a legal contractor’s license number!

In California, unlicensed contractors are part of the $60-140 billion dollar underground economy that doesn’t pay taxes, insurance or follow safety laws. Licensed contractors must demonstrate at least 4 years of experience/education in the field they are licensed, be fingerprinted, have a FBI Background check and be bonded. These requirements are put in place to protect consumers, employees, and even the contractors themselves. So when a company chooses to break the law by contracting without a license, they in essence choose to undermine a check and balance that is in place for the benefit of all parties that are involved.

It becomes even more ironic when these same companies advertise that they will care for you as a customer like no other company can. Well that is an all out lie! First of all they are breaking the law by being unlicensed and now they claim that you are in good hands? Secondly, how do you know that they are holding themselves to the same safety standards that licensed contractors have too maintain? Who is responsible if an employee of an unlicensed contractor gets hurt at your home? If their employer is not carrying the required insurance to protect their employees, who’s insurance do you suppose they will file a legal claim against?

Who do you suppose will pay for injuries, the lawbreaker?

Who do you suppose will pay for injuries, the lawbreaker?

Obviously, we could go on and on about the ramifications of this practice but wouldn’t it be better to discuss some steps that could be taken to put the burden on the lawbreakers to conform and comply? Well for one thing we all need to check are state laws and be familiar with what trades need licensing. Consumers need to verify that any company that they request a bid from is also providing their contractor’s license number. Most laws require that it be printed on any form of advertising, company vehicle, or letterhead. Once you have this information go to your state contractor’s board website and look up the status of your window tinting company’s license. There you will be able to access a lot of important information that will help you in your selection process. It is up to you to refuse to do business with someone who is breaking the law no matter how alluring their prices may be. You are ultimately in control and by making a stand you could play a key role in wiping out a flourishing underground industry.

If you are a window film dealer you can promote legal contracting practices in your advertising. When giving bids, you can encourage people to shop only licensed companies and highlight the benefits of doing so. You can report illegal activity on the contractor’s board website as well. Even if you think it does not work, the united cry alone will bring more attention to the problem. And one other thing that you can do is to lobby for legislation if your state does not require window tinting to have a contractor’s license. Any well established and well run company would embrace such laws. The benefits far outweigh the expenses.

Manufacturers and distributors have a role to play as well. It is in your power to require that your customers operate their businesses legally by following state contractor’s laws before supplying then with window film. This is not restricting trade but rather, it is similar to requiring a resale certificate on a tax-free sale… it is the law. No certificate, no film. If suppliers tightened their requirements it would have a dramatic effect on things. Perhaps if their customers demanded such practices, suppliers would be quick to make changes?

There is no denying that there is a problem so the message here is that it is a win/win situation if we all work together to solve it.



4 Responses to “Does Your Contractor Need a License?”

  1. 1 Mike Feldman July 17, 2008 at 6:12 am


    Excellent consumer awareness posting!

    We compete against all sorts of folks who are not legitimate businesses carry no liability insurance, etc. etc. There are several that we compete against who have criminal records (recent, not decades ago!) The truth is, I know who they are, but have to be cautious not to highlight that when I am trying to win a project. Candidly, some of these guys are nasty characters and it’s more a case of fear of retribution than some ethical reason that we never mention their criminal side.


  2. 2 vclimber July 19, 2008 at 9:55 pm

    I think it is needed for so many reasons. Consumers are the front line, they could stop this practice cold by only doing business with companies that are complying with all state contractor’s laws. If you live in a state that does not have such laws then you should do whatever it takes to get a law on the books. It will help everyone involved. -imo

  3. 3 AlexM August 17, 2008 at 2:35 pm

    Your blog is interesting!

    Keep up the good work!

  4. 4 Dissappointed January 18, 2009 at 10:35 am

    That’s all fine and dandy no we all know that you have to be licensed in California and many other states . What they don’t tell you is to get a Contractor license you don’t even have to be a U.S. citizen have be High School graduate as it was when I was licensed 23 yeras ago, And they reward the so called “busted” unlicensed contractor by reducing there fine (they cant’t enforce because there not licensed) if they get licensed.

    Unless it is news worthily they tell you they are under staffed and if you (a licensed contractor) try to report them they question YOU! Do you know the person is he an ex employe? So that take the confidently part out. And the so called deputies are not or in most cases ever been a Contractor in fact in case of an Arbitration they hire current licensed Contractors. So don’t expect any help from the state pay check recivers.

    The Contractors Board is one of the only State Agencies making money right now, So do you think the state is going to disband that agency any time soon ? NOT!

    So consumers be on guard and at least hire a Contractor that is licensed and have the Insurance Cert mailed to you not fake faxed. Good luck consumer and don’t take the high bid or the low bid take Mama Bear and check references.

    PS I thought I was doing everything right then no back up from the agencey that I am governed by.

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