Unlicensed Contractors on the Rise in the Area

“The Nevada State Contractors Board recently cited eight alleged unlicensed contractors for violating statutes of contracting without a license and advertising without a license during a February sting operation.”

» CLICK TO READ RGJ ARTICLE

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Click to visit the NSCB

Heads up Northern Nevada.With the added growth in the market, we’ll also begin to see unscrupulous service providers popping up all over. Just this week, the RGJ reports the Nevada State Contractors Board cited eight violators in February.

What does this mean to you? Very simply put, always make sure the person offering services has a license to do the work they’re selling you. Ask for a license on paper. And be diligent if they can’t quickly come up with documents of proof. You have time to make sure they have the skills, resources and licensing to do your job right, so exercise your right for validation. This goes for landscapers of course, but all other trades as well. The end result could be catastrophic for your home or business if issues arise – and they typically do.

Search NSCB Database for Company Name

Why should I hire a licensed contractor?

  • Unlicensed contractors do not carry Workman’s Compensation insurance, so if they get injured on your property, you could be held liable.
  • Homeowners who use unlicensed contractors are not eligible for the Residential Recovery Fund, and by law a contract with an unlicensed contractor is null and void.

The NSCB encourages anyone who comes across unlicensed contracting activities to report the information to NSCB’s unlicensed contractor hotline at 702-486-1160 or 775-850-7838. Details to provide include the unlicensed contractor’s name, address (business and/or physical location where work is being performed), phone number, vehicle description, license plate, business card and/or advertisement, contracts signed by the unlicensed individual, etc.

 

Ten Tips for Making Sure Your Contractor Is on the Level

  1. Hire only licensed contractors.
  2. Check the contractor’s license number by utilizing our Online Contractor Search or by contacting the Nevada State Contractors Board:

9670 Gateway Drive, Ste 100
Reno, NV 89521
Phone: (775) 688-1141
Fax: (775) 688-1271
Hours of Operation – Monday – Friday 8:00am – 5:00pm

  1. Get three references and review past work.
  2. Get at least three bids.
  3. Get a written contract and do not sign anything until you
    completely understand the terms.
  4. For pool contracts, pay 10% down or $1,000 – whichever is less, if a deposit
    is required.
  5. Don’t let payments get ahead of the work. Keep a record of all payments.
    Don’t make a final payment until you are satisfied with the job.
  6. Don’t pay cash.
  7. Keep a job file of all papers relating to your project.
  8. Check the contractor’s record with the Better Business Bureau in your area or visit their website at www.bbb.org

Salt & Ice-Melt Can Damage Your Property

One of the most frequently asked questions our crews will get during the winter is whether or not ice melt will hurt my yard?

Glad you asked! As the freezing and thawing of snow over sidewalks occurs, please keep in mind ice melt will indeed cause damage lawns and other sensitive plants if it’s not properly installed. To prevent long term injury, sidewalks and driveways should be cleared and snow tossed back far enough so when it melts, it does not melt over the top of the concrete and then freeze again the next night. This will prevent reapplication of salt to the same areas over and over and put less salt filled runoff into the yard right off the concrete surfaces.

Keep in mind salt is toxic to plants when it dissolves in water. Rock salt absorbs the water that would normally be used by roots. Roots dehydrate and plants are stressed. Salt reduces the cold hardiness of plants, making them even more susceptible to frost damage. 

Here are a few tips to keep your plants safe and your sidewalks and driveways clear:

  • Don’t over-salt! Follow label directions precisely.
  • Avoid using rock salt in extreme cold. Salt is most effective at temperatures just below the freezing point. 
  • De-icing agents with calcium-chloride, or calcium magnesium acetate, are salt-free and should be used in extreme cold.
  • Also, in extreme cold, sprinkle water lightly over the surface before you apply the ice melt for better results.
  • Erect barriers with plastic fencing, burlap or snow fencing to protect sensitive plants.
  • For plants that do get sprayed by salt, use a broom and lightly brush salt off of the plants. You may not see the damage to plants and trees by salt or ice melt until spring.
  • Shovel ice and snow as soon as possible, and try to keep sidewalks and paths clear to avoid re-applying.

 

Ten Questions About Defensible Space

TEN FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT DEFENSIBLE SPACE

A special post from local Living With Fire founder and fire prevention specialist,
Ed Smith, Natural Resource Management Specialist for UNCE

As northern Nevada communities grow, the likelihood of homes being threatened by a wildfire also grows. A critical factor in determining whether or not a home will survive a wildfire is the type, amount, and maintenance of vegetation surrounding the house. In the 1980’s, the term “defensible space” was coined to describe vegetation management practices aimed at reducing the wildfire threat to homes. This fact sheet addresses some of the frequently asked questions regarding defensible space.

1) WHAT IS DEFENSIBLE SPACE?
Defensible space refers to that area between a house and an oncoming wildfire where the vegetation has been modified to reduce the wildfire threat and which provides an opportunity for fire fighters to effectively defend the house. Oftentimes, a defensible space is simply a homeowner’s backyard.

2) WHAT IS THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN VEGETATION AND WILDFIRE THREAT?
Many people do not view the plants growing on their property as a threat. But in terms of wildfire, what is growing adjacent to their homes can have considerable influence upon the survivability of their houses. All vegetation, including naturally occurring native plants and ornamental plants in the residential landscape, is potential wildfire fuel. If the vegetation is properly modified and maintained, a wildfire can be slowed down, the length of flames shortened, and the amount of heat reduced, all of which contribute to a house surviving a wildfire.

3) WHY IS DEFENSIBLE SPACE NECESSARY? WON’T THE FIRE DEPARTMENT PROTECT MY HOUSE?
Some individuals incorrectly assume that a fire truck will be parked in their driveway and fire fighters will be actively defending their homes if a wildfire approaches. During a major wildfire, it is unlikely that there will be fire fighting resources available to defend every home. Even with adequate resources, some wildfires may be so intense that there may be little that fire fighters can do to prevent a house from burning. The key is to reduce fire intensity as a wildfire nears the house. This can be accomplished by reducing the amount of flammable vegetation surrounding a home.

4) DOES DEFENSIBLE SPACE REQUIRE A LOT OF BARE GROUND AROUND A HOUSE?
No. While bare ground would certainly provide an effective defensible space, it is not necessary and looks bad. Bare ground may also cause soil to erode. Many homes have yards that are both effective defensible spaces and attractive landscapes with little or no bare ground.

5) DOES CREATING A DEFENSIBLE SPACE REQUIRE ANY SPECIAL SKILLS OR EQUIPMENT?
No. For the most part, creating a defensible space employs routine gardening and landscape maintenance practices such as pruning, mowing, weeding, plant removal, appropriate plant selection, and irrigation. The necessary equipment consists of common tools like a chain saw, pruning saw, pruning shears, loppers, weedeater, shovel, and a rake. A chipper, compost bin, or a large rented trash dumpster may be useful in disposing unwanted plant material. Annual maintenance will likely be required to retain an effective defensible space.

6) HOW BIG IS AN EFFECTIVE DEFENSIBLE SPACE?
Defensible space size is usually expressed as the distance from the house in which vegetation is managed to reduce the wildfire threat. The necessary distance for an effective defensible is not the same for everyone, but varies by slope and type of native vegetation growing near the house. An example of defensible space distances is presented on the back page of this publication. Contact your local fire marshal for suggested defensible space distances specific to your area. If your recommended distance exceeds your property boundaries, contact the adjacent property owner and try to work cooperatively on creating a defensible space. The effectiveness of defensible space increases when multiple property owners work together.

7) WHAT SHOULD I DO TO MAKE MY PROPERTY DEFENSIBLE?

Within the recommended defensible space distance, conduct the following activities:

  • Remove dead vegetation (i.e., dead trees and shrubs, dried grass and flowers, dead branches, fallen leaves, etc.).
  • Remove lower branches from mature trees to a height of eight feet from ground level. Also, remove small trees and shrubs growing under mature trees.
  • Remove tree branches within 15 feet of a chimney or stove pipe. Keep vegetation clear of power lines and decks.
  • Remove the majority of native shrubs and trees within 30 feet of the house. Retaining a few well maintained native shrubs and trees within the 30 feet is acceptable. Avoid leaving native trees in front of large windows and adjacent to decks.
  • Beyond 30 feet, remove native shrubs to provide a separation between shrubs of approximately three times the shrub height (i.e., if shrub height is 2 feet, then 3 x 2 feet = 6 feet separation). Thin mature native trees to provide a separation of at least 10 feet between tree crowns.
  • Selectively thin and maintain remaining native vegetation at a shorter height through pruning.

Selecting ornamental plants for use in the defensible space should emphasize:

  1. herbaceous plants (i.e., non woody plants such as turfgrass, perennial and annual flowers, etc.) over shrubs and trees.
  2. shorter growing plants over taller plants.
  3. deciduous plants over evergreens

8) DOES HAVING AN EFFECTIVE DEFENSIBLE SPACE MAKE A DIFFERENCE?
Yes. Investigations of homes threatened by wildfire indicate that houses with an effective defensible space are much more likely to survive a wildfire. Furthermore, homes with both an effective defensible space and a nonflammable roof (e.g., composition shingles, tile, metal, etc.) are many more times likely to survive a wildfire than those without a defensible space and flammable roofs (i.e., wood shakes or shingles).

9) DOES HAVING A DEFENSIBLE SPACE GUARANTEE MY HOUSE WILL SURVIVE A WILDFIRE?
No. Under extreme conditions, almost any house can burn. But having a defensible space will significantly
improve the odds of your home surviving a wildfire.

10) WHY DOESN’T EVERYONE LIVING IN A HIGH WILDFIRE HAZARD AREA CREATE A DEFENSIBLE SPACE?
The specific reasons for not creating a defensible space are varied. Some individuals believe that “it won’t happen to me”. Others think the costs (i.e., time, money, effort, etc.) outweigh the benefits (i.e., improved protection for property). But some have failed to implement defensible space practices because of lack of knowledge or misconceptions.


Thank you to Ed Smith and Sonya Sistare For individuals wanting to learn more about defensible space, contact out YOUR LIVING WITH FIRE office or fire marshal.

Signature’s Landscape Olympics and Safety Day

Employees spend entire day reviewing, performing and learning landscape safety, ethics and skills.

From tree pruning to chainsaw safety, more than 75 Signature employees went thought the first annual Landscape Olympics and Safety Day.

Part of a thorough education program put on by award-winning safety professional, Jim Stanhouse, the day-long effort targeted teams in the field all day long.

Click to learn more about Signature Landscapes’ award winning safety program.

Signature Wins Best Safety Program at BANNer Awards

In 2007 the leadership of Signature Landscapes identified a number of strategies required to put our company mission and core values into action. With a full staff of 200-plus laborers working with dangerous tools and equipment every day, it was quickly decided substantial success would be achieved through the development and implementation of a robust, company-wide Safety Education and Enforcement program.

Specifically we wanted to address and provide credence to the two following:

1) Excerpt from our mission statement:
Providing innovative landscape solutions, enriching our community with service though valued and exceptional employees with a commitment to influential industry leadership.

2) Excerpt from our core values:

  1. Teamwork made up of exceptional employees with quality and pride in their work
  2. Create opportunity for personal, professional and company growth
  3. To have a profitable company to build value, and ensure our future
  4. Be the industry leader in all that we do

Fewer Accidents, Lower EMR (MOD rate), Lower Lost-Day Rates

> Constant safety message hits home the value of a Zero-Injury workplace


Our safety program is centered on two key areas: Accident Prevention and Safety Education.

Accident prevention is considered a primary importance in all phases of operation and administration. To ensure these goals are met, procedures have been put into place and are enforced daily since program inception.

Safety education comes in a variety of formats and frequencies. Due to the transient nature of our employee pool, a simple education program has paid off and safety continues to be a top training topic every season.  Each new topic is hand delivered weekly to every employee and followed up with a manager’s discussion and overview of the subject.

Topics are prioritized by historical recurrence as well as event driven. For example, just 18 months ago, a tragic accident occurred on a local freeway (not Signature related) where a couch flew off of a trailer only to cause a horrible accident and loss of life. The next business day our teams were instructed in the proper tie-down procedures for large loads.

Insurance-related claims have dropped 20%  and hospital visits due to accidents are down 45% since 2008. Automotive incidents have substantially decreased since the program launch. Employees can quickly reference any safety topic or procedure by reviewing a complete Safety Reference binder in each division’s ready-room. Signage is also posted around the building to alert and educate employees on key safety topics.