Author Archives: David

5 Ways to Avoid Bringing Home Hazards from the Construction Site

When you’re working on a construction site, there’s always a possibility that you could be digging into hazards. While you can manage a lot of your risk while you’re at the site, it’s a different story once you get home. Bringing dust and debris into your home can put you and your family at risk. Here are five ways you can help to minimize it.

Change Clothing
If you’re trying to keep things simple by driving home in your work gear and washing it when you get there, it might be time to rethink your approach. Look at it from a standpoint of contamination. If you know that you are working with chemicals that could be seriously harmful in another environment, you would probably change your clothes before and after working on that particular task. To prevent the spread of toxic metals in your home, make a habit of changing into your work clothes when you get to work. That way, you can change back into your regular clothes before you leave for the day.

Keep Your Vehicle Clean
Working in dirt or mud creates many opportunities to track the mess into other areas, like your vehicle. While you can avoid much of it by changing into your work clothes at work, that doesn’t solve the problem entirely. In fact, your work vehicle might be another source of contamination. If you can, leave your work shoes in another location, and change into a different pair before you go home. If your business has you going from one site to another throughout the day, plan to clean out your vehicle more frequently. Investing in a small, handheld vacuum with a HEPA filter could make a significant difference in keeping your vehicle cleaner and safer.

Leave Gear and Clothing Outside the Home
Eventually, you’re going to need to clean your work clothing and gear. The best solution to this problem is to have cleaning facilities in your workspace, so you don’t even have to take them home. Adding a laundry facility with a sink might not be as difficult as you think, and many industrial workspaces already offer them. If you don’t have a workspace outside the job site, you may need to come up with creative solutions to keep dirty work clothes out of your house. For example, a mudroom or laundry facility in your garage could allow you to clean the clothing without having to bring it inside the house for washing.

Test Soil Samples
Although you could be working with toxins and not realize it, there are a few ways that you can improve your knowledge. It’s common to test soil samples for contaminants before construction. Even if you’re not involved with that directly, you may be able to consult the findings of a soil testing report. You might already know to look out for lead since it can create a variety of health problems in humans and pets. But you may also need to look for other toxins, like arsenic or chromium.

Watch for Unexplained Illness
Many toxins cause problems based on accumulation, not necessarily immediate exposure. This means that you might have long-term health problems as a result of long-term exposure, even if you didn’t know about it at the time. For example, lead dust is associated with various health problems, including developmental delays in children, organ damage, and certain types of cancer. These often have multiple causes, but it’s important to pay attention when they start to appear. If one or more members of your family seem to be sick all the time without an obvious explanation, it may be time to change your practices.

Working in construction can be risky, but there are lots of ways that you can reduce it. To learn more about running a contracting business, contact CSLS today!

Is Spring the Best Time to Prepare for the Contractor Licensing Exam?

Spring is a wonderful season of renewal for a lot of people. The clocks change, the days get longer, and you may feel as if the world is full of opportunity. Although many people set resolutions for a new year, it’s a great idea to think about what you can do in the spring. Here are a few reasons that this spring could be a great time for you to prepare for the contractor licensing exam.

Use the Longer Days
For many people, the shorter days of winter take a toll on the body and mind. Even though you have lived your entire life with access to technology like artificial lighting, your body may still operate as it would have thousands of years ago. You’re more likely to sleep more and do less during the winter. But once spring arrives, you have longer days and more energy in which to make use of them. It’s great to take that extra boost of energy and put it toward something productive, like your studies. Because of the nature of the season, you may be able to get more done with less stress.

Take Advantage of Good Weather
Anyone who has ever had to study in adulthood knows that you don’t always get to choose the location. When the weather is bad, you have fewer good choices. You might be fine setting up in a den or even a walk-in closet for a little extra focus, but that doesn’t work as well for everyone. Spring offers you a wonderful advantage in the form of better weather. If you like to study outside, you’ll have the opportunity. If you prefer to get some work done from the convenience of a local library or coffee shop, you won’t have to worry about rushing to and from your vehicle in a snowstorm.

Get Ready for the Busy Season
Sometimes, you’re so close to achieving your goal, and you just need a little push to get there. For many people, passing the contractor licensing exam is the last step in a process that they have been following for years. As you probably know, summer is the busy season for the construction industry. If you were hoping to start your business in 2022, you should make sure that you have your license ready to go as soon as possible. Taking the spring to prepare for the exam helps to ensure a better result so that you can get your license and start building a client base when there’s lots of work available.

Build New Ambitions
When you think about it, the beginning of the year is not always the best time to set resolutions. You might be full and exhausted from the holidays, coping with short days and overexcited family members. It isn’t exactly the most conducive moment to reflect on what you have and make a plan for the things you want. By comparison, spring is an excellent opportunity to take stock of where you are going and determine how well it’s working for you. You’re less likely to be overburdened by commitments that pull you in the direction of work, family, or school. With a little time to breathe, you might have just the chance you need to come up with new goals.

Make Plans for the Future
Ultimately, spring is a season of potential. While winter represents the closing of many doors, spring arrives to open them. If you’ve been looking for an opportunity that allows you to pursue your ambitions in a way you haven’t before, spring is a great time to start. Let the benefits of the season fill you with positivity, and make plans to close the door on the disappointments of the past. You might be a few years away from the place you want to be for your career. But you’ll get there so much faster if you stop debating over the possibilities and start walking the path today.

Spring is a great time to get started in the construction industry. If you’ve been waiting for the chance to take the contractor licensing exam, now might be it. To learn more about our expert exam preparation, visit CSLS today!


5 Ways Your Contracting Business Can Handle Unpredictability

Right now, it seems that the only constant in the construction industry is change. When you bid on a project, it’s hard to tell if you’ll be able to get the supplies and labor you need to finish, at the price you bid. Although it may feel like an impossible situation, it’s not uncommon to have to deal with unpredictability in construction. You have options to make it easier. Here are five ways that you can handle it.

Update Your Contracts
When you start a contracting business, you may invest time and money into creating contract language that you can use more than once. If you haven’t had a chance to update your contracts in the past couple of years, now is a great time. A regular state of unpredictability may make it harder to adhere to contract language that dictates that you follow a certain pricing or timing strategy. You may need to build in new terms that allow you to negotiate with the client when circumstances change outside your control. It’s a good idea to hire a lawyer to review your contracts.

Change Your Estimate Process
There are many ways of estimating costs for a client, and the one that you’ve been using may not be the best one for the industry at present. It’s common to set a flat rate for the cost of materials and labor, especially when the cost of either of these is unlikely to go up. But in this environment, your rate may turn out to be higher than you expected or far too low. If you want to avoid cutting into your profits because the cost of materials went up, you need to take a different approach. For example, some contractors set a markup based on the cost of supplies, which could be useful for projects you won’t be starting right away.

Order Materials First
Many businesses rely on a just-in-time inventory. This means that you order supplies just before you need them so that you don’t have to store them beforehand. Of course, when the price of those materials fluctuates dramatically, you may need to rethink the cost-benefit analysis of that strategy. It may be cheaper and less complicated to order the materials first, because you know what the price will be and you can take advantage of immediate availability. The price could always go down, but you don’t have to worry about sourcing supplies that suddenly become hard to get.

Be Realistic About Timing and Prices
If there ever was a time to give yourself extra room for completion dates and cost estimates, this is it. It’s common in construction to say that you can complete a project in less time and at a lower cost, as a way to secure a bid. Many businesses have done this, only to overrun the project in time and expense. While that can be annoying to clients under any circumstance, it is particularly irritating right now. If you have a habit of over-committing yourself, you should take a hard look at your methods and revise them. You may have to renegotiate a contract with a client, but it’s better not to operate as if you have no choice.

Choose Predictable Projects
There will be times when you can take on a challenge or stretch your business to meet the needs of a client in an unexpected way. If you try to do that now, you’re more likely to end up with obstacles that cause you to delay or even cancel the project. Instead, it’s a smart move to select projects that you know you have a higher likelihood of completion. Similarly, you may prefer to steer clear of projects that limit your options in terms of finding qualified workers or sourcing materials. Giving yourself the most flexibility makes it easier for you to make decisions that provide the best possible result.

The construction industry is fairly unpredictable right now, but that doesn’t have to make it impossible to run a business. To learn more about what you need to be a successful contractor, visit CSLS today!

5 Ways to Avoid Procrastinating Your Contractor Licensing Exam Studies

When you have to study for the licensing exam, sometimes it’s hard to avoid procrastinating. If you’re tired or overworked, it may be difficult to find the energy needed for your studies. But there are ways to get around it. Here are five things you can do to stop wasting time and start being productive.

Take Opportunities to Study
For many people, seizing the opportunity when motivation strikes is the best way to get things done. Sometimes, rigid schedules don’t work out well. You might spend your day dreading all the tasks you have ahead, which makes it easier to put them off. Instead, find a way to lean into your ambitions and follow them wherever they go. For example, if you wake up early one morning, and you feel motivated to study, it’s a good idea to go for it. You’ll make more progress, and it won’t feel as much like work. Try to leave at least a portion of your day available for the following pursuits, whatever they may be.

Avoid Overscheduling Your Day
If you have a lot to do and less time to do it in, it’s tempting to book out your entire day. But then you wake up in the morning and realize that you don’t have 15 minutes to yourself at any point until you go to bed. Scheduling is a good way to stay on-task when you’re busy, but you can definitely take it to the extreme. It can be a good idea to schedule your time in 15-to-30-minute increments throughout the day, but be sure to leave at least a few longer blocks of unplanned time. You may not be able to do that every day, but having good breaks on most days will help to make the others feel less rushed.

Give Yourself Choices
You’re probably familiar with the common procrastinating tactic of doing everything on your list short of the items that are most pressing. If this is something that you often do, you may be able to use it to your advantage. Instead of sitting down to do one specific task, give yourself a choice of two. The decision allows you to evaluate which one seems easiest and most practical. In a way, it will feel like you’re taking the easier path. Eventually, you’ll have to get to the second task. But if both of them need to be completed, it’s better to finish one than to pick the harder one and finish none.

Make a Game
There’s a reason that so many companies make games out of tasks that their customers are less likely to do. Games add an element of fun and challenge to something that might otherwise be boring. If you’re struggling to get yourself into your work tasks, consider making it into a game. For example, you might set a strict time limit to finish reading a particular passage, with a reward for yourself if you’re able to achieve it. You can also make a chart of your progress and set prizes for achievements. Just make sure that the goals that you set are reasonable to achieve so that you don’t lose motivation.

Address Burnout
Most methods to combat procrastination don’t really address the fundamental cause, which is often some type of burnout. People can start to feel burned out by work, studies or even family responsibilities. Burnout typically shows up in these ways:

  • Difficulty focusing on important tasks
  • Worry about putting things off, even during breaks and leisure time
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Trouble with self-care tasks like chores or sleeping

If you’re dealing with burnout at the same time as you’re trying to ramp up your studies, you may need to take a different approach. Scale back your expectations, and make your goals easier to achieve within a shorter period of time. Early successes can help to combat burnout.

Procrastinating is a pain, but there are plenty of ways that you can get yourself into a different frame of mind for your contractor licensing exam studies. For more information about what you’ll need to pass the licensing exam, contact CSLS today!

5 Things to Do If Your Contracting Business Gets Shut Down Temporarily

Several states, California included, have shut down what they call “non-essential services” until they can get better control over the rising cases of COVID-19. Although construction is currently proceeding mostly as usual, this may not be the case next week. Dealing with a state-level or city-level shutdown presents a number of possible complications for your business. Here are five things you can do to help keep your business going, if you’re forced to cut hours or shut down for a short period of time.

Assess Status of Current Projects
It is common for contracting businesses to have several jobs going. You might be almost done with one and barely starting with another. The first thing you should do is assess where you are at with every current project. In some cases, you may be able to suspend work for a short period of time or change the nature of the project while you wait for a shutdown to end. In other cases, you might simply need to finish some paperwork, which could be easy to do remotely. There’s a high likelihood that you would have to suspend most work during a shutdown. But there may be other ways to run your business in the meantime.

Check on Your Cash Flow
One of the first rules of running a contracting business is to ensure that your cash flow is sufficient to handle temporary delays in revenue. While a shutdown due to COVID-19 might be longer than temporary, it’s possible that your cash flow may still be able to buy you some time. Invest the time to examine all of your expenses, including:

  • Payroll
  • Workspace rentals
  • Equipment
  • Supplies

If you made active orders for projects that are now on hold, you may be able to pause or cancel them until you are ready to make those orders again. Finding ways to limit what you have to pay can help ensure that you save most of your money for important things like keeping your employees on-staff.

Consider Financial Support
While the last thing that you may want to do right now is take out a loan when you’re not bringing money in, there are a variety of ways you can look at getting extra financial support while you wait for the opportunity to open business again. This might come in the form of

  • Low-interest business loans
  • Lines of credit
  • Grant programs

Take a look at federal legislation related to economic stimulus and see how the benefits for businesses may relate to yours in particular. It’s an imperfect solution, but it may help you keep the lights on.

Communicate with Clients and Lenders
In any kind of crisis, most business owners try to plan for the worst but hope for the best. This involves making sure that everybody who relates to your cash flow, from clients to lenders, is aware of what you are dealing with and how you were working to minimize problems. It might mean trying to negotiate a new timeline with a client rather than having to abandon a project altogether. It might also include talking to lenders and creditors and requesting some kind of forbearance that allows you extra time to catch up on payments while your income is lower. In most cases, you are much more likely to reach a satisfactory agreement if you talk to them before you fall into violation of the contract.

Get Updates on Limitations
While some experts are estimating that the threat posed by COVID-19 may last for months or even years, it is unlikely to lead to a long-term shutdown of the construction industry. That said, it is hard to tell when barriers to normal business function will lift. You should plan to spend some time every day looking for news as it relates to your field. This will give you the best opportunity to find out when you’ll be able to start working again.

Running a business in the middle of chaos can lead to a shutdown. With these tips, you’ll know what to do to keep your company as safe as possible. For more information about preparing for your contractor licensing exam from home, contact CSLS today!

Is Your Contracting Business Mobilizing to Assist in the COVID-19 Pandemic?

If COVID-19 has shown anything, it’s that the U.S. is quite unprepared to deal with a large number of sick people. Other countries have dealt with it by addressing faults in their infrastructure, like an insufficient number of hospital beds. And while the healthcare industry is in more need than ever now, these kinds of problems mean that construction contractors have a role to play, as well. Across the state, construction workers are getting ready to help. Here’s what is going on and how you can be a part of the solution.

Stay Updated on Current Guidelines
It may feel impossible to stay updated on the current status of rules concerning businesses in California right now. That said, you should still do everything you can to keep informed. At present, the state still classifies construction as an essential industry. This means that contracting businesses can continue to work on construction projects as long as they maintain proper attention to social distancing and sanitation practices. This may change at any time, so you will want to keep the latest information at your fingertips.

See What’s Happening in Your Area
Right now, the focus is on both containing the spread of COVID-19 and providing additional resources to the healthcare industry to treat people with the virus. Just like China was able to build a new hospital within a very short period of time, the state of California is mobilizing construction workers to expand and retrofit hospitals. This will make it easier for healthcare professionals to identify, diagnose and treat people who may have the virus. If you want more information about what you may be able to do, read local newspapers and social media posts from government officials. This may be the fastest way to get updates.

Get Ready for Action
Watching people come together from a large variety of industries to help produce personal protective equipment and ventilators is an inspiring sight. It is amazing what the population can do if they are only given a chance to use their skills and the resources that they already have. If you are already working on existing projects, it is probably best for you to continue meeting your obligations. But if your well of work seems to be running dry, looking for ways you can help may be able to make a big difference. This is a great time to network with other professionals in your area and see if you can team up to assist, even in small ways.

Take Advantage of Business Support Programs
While the focus is on businesses that are able to donate labor or supplies to battling COVID-19, many industries are also seeing significant cutbacks to their revenue streams. If you were worried about what the virus spread might do to your ability to keep your business running, one of the best things that you can do is start investigating the many local, state and federal programs recently implemented to help keep small businesses afloat. An interest-free loan or a grant may give you the ability to keep paying your bills while you protect your workers and help your community.

If All Else Fails, Minimize Harm
At the end of the day, every person has a responsibility to try to help contain the spread of COVID-19. A novel virus may cause significant damage, and it won’t be apparent how much until the vast majority of the threat has already passed. If you are unable to participate in assistance efforts related to COVID-19, your best bet may be simply to avoid increasing the risk for yourself and your employees. Focusing on what you can do to flatten the curve of rising cases and fatalities is a good effort all by itself.

The spread of COVID-19 has brought out the best in millions of people. If you want to be one of them, your contracting business may be able to help. To learn more about what the construction industry means to your local community, visit CSLS today!


Planning to Move Out of State? Here’s How It Affects Your Contracting Business

Construction has always been a highly regional industry. Even if you work for a national or international company with satellite offices in multiple states, you’re still focused on the building needs of the community close to home. This can really complicate things if you’re working on a certification but you’re not planning to remain in the state. Here are a few things you should do, if you’re working toward becoming a licensed contractor in California but you don’t intend to stay here to build your career.

  1. Research State Regulations
    Although there are international and federal regulations on the way you build things and the types of work you can do with a license, most rules you will have to follow are set at the state level. This means that if you move to a different state, you can expect that you will need to follow different guidelines. Well in advance of your move, you should invest the time to research the common guidelines you can expect for your particular field and the kind of services you plan to provide. This will help you avoid confusion or problems after you move and start working to set up your business.
  1. Learn About Licensing Requirements
    Every state has its own licensing requirements. Some states only require a license for certain types of services, while others may have much higher expectations. The last thing that you want is to get in trouble because you didn’t have a license when you needed one. Look into the licensing requirements for the state that you plan to go to and make sure that you understand each step. With the experience that you gained in California, you may be able to bypass some of those requirements. But there’s a good chance that you will need to take a different exam and submit an application with different requirements than what you can expect here in California.
  1. Look at Limitations for Reciprocity Agreements
    Reciprocity agreements for contractor licensing can be a wonderful benefit when they exist. For example, the state of California has reciprocal licensing agreements with:
  • Arizona
  • Louisiana
  • Nevada
  • Utah

This means that you may have a much shorter path to securing a license in these states. Make sure that you know all the details. Consider contacting the California State Licensing Board or the licensing authority for the state in which you plan to move. This will help you confirm that you understand your responsibilities and the best way to use this benefit.

  1. Talk to People Who Have Moved
    With a state the size of California, it’s not difficult to find people who have moved from California to another state in the country. If you have the opportunity, talk to people in your field who moved from California to the state you plan to go to. It might be worth checking out a construction conference in that area to meet people and network. This will help you get a better sense for what the workload is like to establish a business in that state, as well as what you can expect to find in your field as a whole.
  1. Consider Regional Supply and Service Differences
    A lot of your focus may be on how you can meet the requirements needed to provide services in your chosen state. It’s also worth finding out about regional differences in supply chains and services. For example, you may find that inland states take longer to get supplies that require international shipments, especially those made by boat. You might also discover that the demand for your services is significantly different in another region than it is in California. This might be a benefit for you, if there are more people who need skilled workers in your field in that state. But it might also change the way that you offer services, so it’s good to have a plan in advance.

California is a great place to live, but it’s also a good place to get your construction education for a career somewhere else. To find out how you can become a licensed contractor, visit CSLS today!