Tips for Contractors Who Want to Help Rebuild After the California Wildfires

by Wendel, Rosen, Black & Dean LLP

Smoke and flames of the Nuns Fire are seen one hill east of Oakville, seen from Napa, California.


I received a call from one of my contractor clients this past week to see what he could do to help those affected by California’s North Bay fires.

The North Bay fires are the deadliest and most destructive wildfires in California’s history. To date, the fires have claimed 42 lives, burned more than 200,000 acres of land, destroyed an estimated 8,400 structures and likely damaged tens of thousands more. By comparison, the state’s second most deadly wildfire, the Oakland Hills fire of 1991, claimed the lives of 25 people, burned 1,600 acres of land, and destroyed 2,900 structures Rebuilding costs for the North Bay fires, according to the California Insurance Commissioner, are expected to top $1 billion.

For those with insurance, insurance experts say that the rebuilding process can take two years or more for those whose homes and businesses were destroyed. For those whose homes and businesses were fortunate enough only to be damaged, rebuilding efforts are already underway.

While I’m not aware at this time of organizations through which contractors can help those impacted by the fires, for contractors who want to help, a few reminders:

  • Statutory Home Improvement Contracts – 7-Day Right to Cancel Notice: Contractors who repair, remodel, alter, convert, modernize, or add to a residential property – regardless of the number of residence or dwelling units – are required to use a statutory home improvement contract. Most residential contractors are already aware of this. However, because Governor Brown has declared a state of emergency in Mendocino, Napa, Sonoma, Yuba counties, the typical three-day right to cancel notice should be replaced with a seven-day right to cancel notice pursuant to Business and Professions Code section 7159 which provides:

The following notice entitled “Seven-Day Right to Cancel” shall be provided to the buyer for any contract that is written for the repair or restoration of residential premises damaged by any sudden or catastrophic event for which a state of emergency has been declared by the President of the United States or the Governor, or for which a local emergency has been declared by the executive officer or governing body of any city, county, or city and county: . . .

  • Price GougingIt is illegal to price-gouge during emergencies. Penal Code section 396 provides that upon the proclamation of a state of emergency declared by the President of the United States or the Governor, or upon the declaration of a local emergency by an official, board, or other governing body vested with authority to make such a declaration in any county, city, or city and county, and for a period of 180 days following that proclamation or declaration:

It is unlawful for a contractor to sell or offer to sell any repair or reconstruction services or any services used in emergency cleanup for a price of more than 10 percent above the price charged by that person for those services immediately prior to the proclamation or declaration of emergency.

However, a greater price increase is not unlawful if that person can prove that: (1) the increase in price was directly attributable to additional costs imposed on it by the supplier of the goods; or (2) directly attributable to additional costs for labor or materials used to provide the services, provided that in those situations where the increase in price is attributable to the additional costs imposed by the contractor’s supplier or additional costs of providing the service during the state of emergency or local emergency, the price represents no more than ten percent (10%) above the total of the cost to the contractor plus the markup customarily applied by the contractor for that good or service in the usual course of business immediately prior to the onset of the state of emergency or local emergency.

  • Register Under FEMA’s SAM Program: The Federal Emergency Management Agency (“FEMA”) maintains a System for Award Management (SAM) database of vendors, including construction contractors, who wish to be included in the Disaster Response Registry used by FEMA and the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers to provide disaster-response assistance through federal procurement opportunities.

Of course, before beginning any construction you should take care to get proper permits including, as it relates to the fires, for debris cleanup. The County of Sonoma has put together a webpage with helpful advice on debris removal.

You may also want to have handy a copy of your California Contractor’s State License Board wall certificate and/or pocket card because, while disasters often bring out the best in humanity, it also brings out the worst as well, including phony contractors who try to take advantage of traumatized victims.

And, finally, because many laws governing construction are local, make sure you comply with all local laws related to construction. In other words, there may be additional requirements not mentioned in this post.

Be careful out there.

Photo credit: CC0 Public Domain

[View source.]

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Wendel, Rosen, Black & Dean LLP | Attorney Advertising

Written by:

Wendel, Rosen, Black & Dean LLP

Wendel, Rosen, Black & Dean LLP on:

Readers' Choice 2017
Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:
Sign up using*

Already signed up? Log in here

*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.
Custom Email Digest
Privacy Policy (Updated: October 8, 2015):

JD Supra provides users with access to its legal industry publishing services (the "Service") through its website (the "Website") as well as through other sources. Our policies with regard to data collection and use of personal information of users of the Service, regardless of the manner in which users access the Service, and visitors to the Website are set forth in this statement ("Policy"). By using the Service, you signify your acceptance of this Policy.

Information Collection and Use by JD Supra

JD Supra collects users' names, companies, titles, e-mail address and industry. JD Supra also tracks the pages that users visit, logs IP addresses and aggregates non-personally identifiable user data and browser type. This data is gathered using cookies and other technologies.

The information and data collected is used to authenticate users and to send notifications relating to the Service, including email alerts to which users have subscribed; to manage the Service and Website, to improve the Service and to customize the user's experience. This information is also provided to the authors of the content to give them insight into their readership and help them to improve their content, so that it is most useful for our users.

JD Supra does not sell, rent or otherwise provide your details to third parties, other than to the authors of the content on JD Supra.

If you prefer not to enable cookies, you may change your browser settings to disable cookies; however, please note that rejecting cookies while visiting the Website may result in certain parts of the Website not operating correctly or as efficiently as if cookies were allowed.

Email Choice/Opt-out

Users who opt in to receive emails may choose to no longer receive e-mail updates and newsletters by selecting the "opt-out of future email" option in the email they receive from JD Supra or in their JD Supra account management screen.


JD Supra takes reasonable precautions to insure that user information is kept private. We restrict access to user information to those individuals who reasonably need access to perform their job functions, such as our third party email service, customer service personnel and technical staff. However, please note that no method of transmitting or storing data is completely secure and we cannot guarantee the security of user information. Unauthorized entry or use, hardware or software failure, and other factors may compromise the security of user information at any time.

If you have reason to believe that your interaction with us is no longer secure, you must immediately notify us of the problem by contacting us at In the unlikely event that we believe that the security of your user information in our possession or control may have been compromised, we may seek to notify you of that development and, if so, will endeavor to do so as promptly as practicable under the circumstances.

Sharing and Disclosure of Information JD Supra Collects

Except as otherwise described in this privacy statement, JD Supra will not disclose personal information to any third party unless we believe that disclosure is necessary to: (1) comply with applicable laws; (2) respond to governmental inquiries or requests; (3) comply with valid legal process; (4) protect the rights, privacy, safety or property of JD Supra, users of the Service, Website visitors or the public; (5) permit us to pursue available remedies or limit the damages that we may sustain; and (6) enforce our Terms & Conditions of Use.

In the event there is a change in the corporate structure of JD Supra such as, but not limited to, merger, consolidation, sale, liquidation or transfer of substantial assets, JD Supra may, in its sole discretion, transfer, sell or assign information collected on and through the Service to one or more affiliated or unaffiliated third parties.

Links to Other Websites

This Website and the Service may contain links to other websites. The operator of such other websites may collect information about you, including through cookies or other technologies. If you are using the Service through the Website and link to another site, you will leave the Website and this Policy will not apply to your use of and activity on those other sites. We encourage you to read the legal notices posted on those sites, including their privacy policies. We shall have no responsibility or liability for your visitation to, and the data collection and use practices of, such other sites. This Policy applies solely to the information collected in connection with your use of this Website and does not apply to any practices conducted offline or in connection with any other websites.

Changes in Our Privacy Policy

We reserve the right to change this Policy at any time. Please refer to the date at the top of this page to determine when this Policy was last revised. Any changes to our privacy policy will become effective upon posting of the revised policy on the Website. By continuing to use the Service or Website following such changes, you will be deemed to have agreed to such changes. If you do not agree with the terms of this Policy, as it may be amended from time to time, in whole or part, please do not continue using the Service or the Website.

Contacting JD Supra

If you have any questions about this privacy statement, the practices of this site, your dealings with this Web site, or if you would like to change any of the information you have provided to us, please contact us at:

- hide
*With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name. Or, sign up using your email address.