The drought provides a new angle for illegal contractors to fleece the unwary.
“We’re starting to find unlicensed contractors out there kind of preying on people’s hopes to be able to have a nice yard but also being able to save water at the same time," says Rick Lopes, with California’s Contractors State License Board or CSLB, one of the state’s leading consumer protection agencies.
Earlier this month, the board conducted a sting operation in the Sacramento area and caught 11 people engaged in illegal contracting.
Lopes says hiring an unlicensed contractor is just a bad idea.
“There’s a good chance that they’re going to try to come in and lowball a bid to try to get the job and to get you to make a big down payment," he says.
Lopes says unlicensed contractors are also typically not covered by worker’s compensation insurance. That means if a worker gets hurt on your job, you may get stuck with the medical bills.
Lopes says before you hire a contractor make sure the business has a current state-issued license and check with the CSLB's website first.
The drought in California, in its fifth consecutive year, has created conditions that are ripe for wildfires. The National Interagency Fire Center predicts "above normal" fire potential through September for portions of California, Nevada and Idaho.
A new report shows there are certain highways in California that are "hot spots" for wildlife-vehicle collisions.
A new report says more people in California are at risk from wildfire and fires are starting earlier and are three times larger than in the 1970s.
A new study finds California’s Central Valley has three times more water beneath it than previously estimated.
UPDATE June 26: Fire managers says the Erskine Fire near Lake Isabella in Kern County has grown to 43,460 acres and is 40 percent contained. Two people have died, and more than 250 structures have been destroyed and an additional 75 damaged.