Recently, a friend mentioned he had to finish up some continued education credits to maintain his medical license. Lawyers are required to do the same, and so are many other professionals. Then I began to wonder: why is the building industry exempt?
The construction landscape is constantly changing with new and updated laws, methods, and products. Why are architects, engineers, and builders not made to keep current with these changes? In addition, the California Bureau of Consumer Affairs receives mountains of complaints about builders and remodelers each year. Sure, the public can help itself by becoming better informed, but it should be mandatory that the construction industry does the same.
Here are a few examples of how keeping current will be helpful:
I often see construction crews cutting concrete without the use of water. This results in clouds of cement dust that can lead to damage to lungs, stomach, colon and many other parts of the body. (see this OSHA Pocket Series publication for more information) A course on best practices can teach construction workers how to keep job sites and neighborhoods from being contaminated.
Many self-proclaimed contractors work without building permits. Most of them do so because they are ignorant; do not want to spend the money; and because they do not know the current building codes they are supposed to adhere to. Consumers end up with substandard work that eventually has to be re-done, meaning additional expense for the client, and increased burden on the environment. Continued education can underscore the importance of obtaining permits when required, and informing building professionals of the latest code changes.
As I have written about before, the Contractor State License Board in California has specific documents and language that has to be included in every construction contract. It is perplexing to see that many contractors use boilerplate agreements from the office supply store, and which do not come even close to what the CSLB stipulates. Should a contractor and client end up in court due to a dispute, and if the contractor’s contract does not include the required documents, the judge is likely to quickly rule in the client’s favor. Again, continued education can help builders protect themselves from costly mistakes. And perhaps this education would motivate insurers to lower building professionals’ premiums. Ok, but a guy can dream, right?