What You Need to Know About Obtaining a Contractor’s License in California
To perform work on most construction projects in California you need to be licensed by the California Contractors State License Board (“CSLB”).
The CSLB publishes a helpful guide on becoming a licensed contractor – Blueprint for Becoming a California Licensed Contractor – as well as a reference book which discusses contractor licensing – California Contractors License Law & Reference Book. The Guide is a bit outdated through having been published in 2006 although the Reference Book is updated annually.
They say imitation is the greatest form of flattery, and I’ve borrow liberally from both the Guide and Reference Book for this post, although I’ve added a few additional comments from my experience with licensing issues.
Who must be licensed as a contractor?
All businesses and individuals who construct or alter, or offer to construct or alter, any building, highway, road, parking facility, railroad, excavation, or other structure in California (other than federal projects located in California) must be licensed by the CSLB if the total cost of labor and materials under one or more contracts on the project is $500 or more.
Note: Contractors who work with asbestos or other hazardous substances are regulated by the U.S. Department of Labor, U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health, as well as by the CSLB.
Are there any exemptions to the license requirement?
Yes. The most common exemptions are:
- Minor Work Exemption: If the total cost of labor and materials under one or more contracts on a project is less than $500, a contractor’s license is not required. Work which is part of a larger project, whether undertaken by the same or different contractors, may not be divided into contracts of less than $500 in an attempt to meet this exemption.
- Employee Exemption: Employees who are paid wages, who do not work in an independently established business, and who do not have direction or control over the performance of the work or who do not determine the final results of the work or project are not required to have a contractor’s license.
- Public Employee Exemption: Public employees working on public projects are not required to have a contractor’s license.
- Owner-Builder Exemption: Owner-builders who build or improve structures on their own property are not required to have a contractor’s license if they either do the work themselves or use their own employees. This exception only applies if the structure is not intended to be offered for sale within one year of completion.
- Owner-Builder Contracting Exemption: Owner-builders who build or improve structures on their own property are not required to have a contractor’s license if they contract with a licensed contractor to perform the work. This exemption is only applicable to the construction of single-family residences if no more than four such structures are offered for sale in any one calendar year.
- Owner-Builder Primary Residence Exemption: Owner-builders who improve their main place of residence, who have actually resided there for one year prior to completion of the work, and who complete the work prior to sale are not required to have a contractor’s license. This exemption is limited to two structures within a three-year period.
- Manufacturer Exemption: Manufacturers who sell or install finished products that do not become a fixed part of a structure are not required to have a contractor’s license.
Note: Property owners may not perform well drilling work covered under a C-57 Well Drilling Contractor’s License.
Who can become a licensed contractor?
To qualify for a contractor’s license, individuals must:
- Be 18 years of age or older;
- Have a valid social security number; and
- Show that they have the experience and skills necessary to manage the daily activities of a construction business, including field supervision.
Can business entities be licensed?
Yes, the CSLB issues contractor’s licenses to corporations, partnerships, joint ventures and limited liability companies (“LLCs”). However, in order for such a business entity to be issued a contractor’s license they must have a “qualifying individual” who has the requisite experience and skills necessary to qualify the business entity’s license.
Note: Whether licensed as an individual or as a business entity, a licensed contractor may only contract in the classification(s) in which it is licensed.
What experience is required for a contractor’s license?
A qualifying individual must have at least four years of journey-level experience or above in the past 10 years immediately preceding application for a contractor’s license. Credit for experience is only given for experience as a journeyman, foreman, supervising employee, contractor, or owner-builder. All experience must be verified by a qualified and responsible person who has firsthand knowledge of the individual’s experience during the time period covered.
A qualifying individual may also receive credit of up to three years of the required four years of journey-level experience:
- A maximum of 1 ½ years of credit: Upon submission of official transcripts for an Associate of Arts (AA) degree from an accredited school or college in building or construction management.
- A maximum of 2 years of credit: Upon submission of official transcripts for: (1) a four-year degree from an accredited college or university in the fields of accounting, architecture (for Class B General Building Contractor classification only), business, economics, mathematics, physics, or areas related to the specific trade or craft for which an application is being made; (2) a professional degree in law; or (3) substantial college or university course work in accounting, architecture, business, construction technology, drafting, economics, engineering, mathematics, or physics.
- A maximum of 3 years credit: Upon submission of: (1) a Certificate of Completion of Apprenticeship from an accredited apprenticeship program or a certified statement of completion of apprenticeship training from a union in the classification being applied for; (2) official transcripts for a four-year degree from an accredited college or university in construction technology/management, or any field of engineering that is directly related to the classification being applied for; or (3) official transcripts for a four-year degree from an accredited college or university in the field of horticulture, landscape horticulture, or landscape architecture (for Class C-27 Landscaping classification only), or in the field of interior design (For Class C-33 Painting and Decorating classification only).
What classifications may a contractor be licensed in?
California has three different license classifications:
- Class “A” – General Engineering Contractor: A Class “A” – General Engineering Contractor’s principal business is in connection with fixed works requiring specialized engineering knowledge and skill.
- Class “B” – General Building Contractor: A Class “B” – General Building Contractor’s principal business is in connection with any structure built, being built, or to be built, requiring in its construction the use of at least two unrelated building trades or crafts. However, framing and carpentry projects may be performed without limitation. A Class “B” licensed contractor may enter into a direct contract for projects involving only one trade, if the contractor holds the appropriate specialty license or subcontracts with an appropriately licensed specialty contractor to perform the work.
- Class “C” – Specialty Contractor: There are 41 separate Class “C” licenses for contractors whose principal business involves the use of specialized building trades or crafts. Manufacturers are considered to be contractors requiring a license if engaged in on-site construction, alteration, or repair. In addition, there is a C-61 Limited Specialty classification which is subcategorized into 30 separate “D” subclassifications.
How do I apply for a contractor’s license?
To apply for a contractor’s license you must complete and submit:
- For individuals, partnerships, corporations and LLCs: An Application for Original Contractor License;
- For individuals, partnerships, corporations and LLCs with a qualifying individual: An Application for Original Contractor License (Exam Waived);
If you are required to take an examination, you must complete and submit the Application for Original Contractor’s License together with a processing fee to the CSLB. If you are not required to take the examination, you must complete and submit the Application for Original Contractor’s License (Exam Waived) together with a processing fee, initial licensing fee, and an additional classification fee for any additional classifications being applied for.
Note: Applications may be submitted in person or by mail to the CSLB. Although the CSLB has a few different offices, only the CSLB’s Sacramento office accepts license applications. The address of the CSLB’s Sacramento office is Contractors State License Board, P.O. Box 26000, Sacramento, CA 95826.
What if I am required to take an examination?
If you are required to take an examination you must pass a written law and business examination and a specific trade examination. Each examination is 3 1/2 hours and is multiple choice. Examination center are located in Fresno, Norwalk, Oakland, Oxnard, Sacramento, San Bernardino, San Diego and San Jose. Your examination center and a study guide will be included in a Notice to Appear for Examination sent by the CSLB.
The CSLB may waive the examination requirement if the qualifying individual either:
- Is currently licensed and in good standing in the same classification in which a license is being applied for;
- Has been licensed and in good standing within the past five years in the same classification in which a license is being applied for;
- Is an immediate family of a qualifying individual whose license was active and in good standing for five of the past seven years preceding the application, the license being applied for is the same classification as the qualifying individual, and the license is necessary to continue the operation of an existing family business due to the absence or death of the qualifying individual.
- Is an employee of a corporation or LLC, the employee has worked in a supervisory capacity in the same classification being applied for for five of the past seven years preceding the application, and the corporation or limited liability company has not requested a waiver within the past five years.
Note: Even if you think you are eligible for an examination waiver you must complete the “Experience” section of the application, unless you are currently a qualifier on a license in good standing in the same classification as the license being applied for, or you have served as a qualifier on a license in good standing within the past five years in the same classification in which a license is being applied for.
Can a qualifying individual serve as the qualifier for more than one license?
Yes, but only if one of the following conditions exist:
- Twenty Percent Common Ownership: There is common ownership of at least 20% of the equity of each firm for which the qualifying individual serves as qualifier;
- Subsidiary or Joint Venture: The additional firm is a subsidiary or joint venture with the first firm; or
- Majority of Partners or Officers the Same: The majority of partners or officers of the two firms are the same.
Note: Even if a qualifying individual meets these conditions, he or she may not serve as the qualifying individual for more than three firms in any one-year period. Moreover, if a qualifying individual disassociates from the third firm, he or she must wait one year before associating with a new third firm. In general, Responsible Managing Employees (“RMEs”) may not be the qualifier on more than one active license.
What other information or other documentation do I need to submit?
Either together with your application, or later when notified by the CSLB, you must also submit:
- Contractor Bond or Cash Deposit: A contractor bond (currently $15,000), or cash deposit, in the business name of the applicant;
- Qualifying Individual Bond or Cash Deposit: A qualifying individual bond (currently $12,500), or cash deposit, for Responsible Managing Employees (“RMEs”) and Responsible Managing Officers (“RMOs”), unless the RMO certifies that he or she owns 10% or more of the voting stock or equity of the corporation or which he or she is serving as the qualifying individual;
- Proof of Workers Compensation Insurance or Exemption Certificate: Proof of workers’ compensation insurance or exemption certificate certifying that no workers are employed. C-39 Roofing contractors must provide proof of workers’ compensation insurance even if they employee no workers. Similarly, contractors who are qualifying through an RME (since an RME is, by definition, an employee) must also provide proof of workers’ compensation insurance.
In addition, LLC’s are required to submit:
- Surety Bond: A surety bond (currently $100,000) for the benefit of employees or workers damaged by an LLC’s failure to pay wages, interest on wages, or fringe benefits, as well as other contributions; and
- Liability Insurance: Proof of liability insurance with an aggregate limit of $1 million for licensees with five or fewer persons, and an additional $100,000 for each additional member over five, not to exceed $5 million total.
Note: A RMO, Responsible Managing Member or Responsible Managing Manager does not need to provide a qualifying individual bond if they own 10% or more of the voting stock or equity of the corporation or LLC and submits a Qualifier Statement of Ownership. A RME may not be exempted from having a qualifying individual bond. RMEs must be bona fide employees involved in the business at least 32 hours a week or 80% of the total business operating hours per week, whichever is less.
How will I know if my application has been approved?
When the CSLB receives your application it will send a Letter of Acknowledgement including a nine-digit Application Fee Number and a four-digit Personal Identification Number which you can use to check the status of your application on the CSLB website. Application status information is updated weekly. You should expect the CSLB to take several months (currently 3 to 4 months) to process your application.
429 Responses to “What You Need to Know About Obtaining a Contractor’s License in California”
I previously held a General Building Contractors license in California which expired in good standing in 1995. I have been contemplating re-applying for a new license but since 27 years have past I’m wondering if any part of my past experience will count towards the “experience requirement”. The CSLB calls out in multiple places “4 years of experience within the last 10 years”. I have worked on a number of part time projects over the years since as “owner-builder”. Your opinion on this would be greatly appreciated 🙂
Hi Scott. Indeed, if you are re-applying for a contractor’s license in California, as opposed to reactivating a contractor’s license, the 4 years within the past 10 year experience requirement would apply. Shoot me an email when you get the chance, I might have someone who can help you navigate this.
How can I get my new certificate of General Building Contractor? I have tried contacting CSLB and their services don’t seem to be working at the moment and I cant find any answers as to how I can get the certificate of my B class license?
Hi Victor, if you’re asking how to expedite getting a contractor’s license from the CSLB, I don’t think there is a magic pill. If, on the other hand, you are asking how to get a license certificate for a license you already have, you can complete an an Order for Wall Certificate or Pocket License and submit it to the CSLB. You can find that form here – https://www.cslb.ca.gov/about_us/library/forms_and_applications.aspx
Hello, how are international licenses and or work experience apply in the States. What are the requirements to verify work experience and managing/operating building corporation over sees different country. thank you for your time it is appreciated.
Hi Ed. Sorry for the delay responding. International experience would be subject to the same experience requirements and verification as stateside work experience. Depending on the CSLB license reviewer though they may require that you for all your “i”s and cross all your “t”s because it is international work with different trade standards than stateside.
Additionally… overseas experience must be signed-off by someone in that country and their signature must be notarized.
I have a question for disassociation as an RMO.
I decided to disassociate as RMO for company. I have filed a disassociation form to CSLB and the disassociation date is June 1 2021. I have no the voting stock or equity with company any more. And CSLB has approved it.
But one project is still on going after I left the company, So do I still need to take care of project until it close? And am I still responsible for construction activities after disassociation date?
I appreciate if I can get some advices.
Hi Leon. After disassociating you have no further responsibilities.
Can you manufacture cabinets, vanities, molding, doors etc. without a C-6 license? I have years of education in woodworking and would like to start something on the side.
Would the aforementioned items be considered fixtures and require a license to manufacture?
So long as you are doing manufacturing there is no need for you to hold a contractor’s license.
is the person with over 25 years of being contractor in another country can qualify to take an exam.
With a translate all the documents of education and work experience.
Hi Yasmin. Sorry for the late reply. Satisfying the experience requirement does not require that you have experience in California or even in the United States. The most important thing is to be able to show the experience you have.
My name is Al Saggese. I’m a licensed California General Contractor with a B license. I’m looking to be an RMO. If you know of any unlicensed contractors looking for a qualifier please let me know. If you know of any resources to find anyone please let me know. Any help or guidance will be greatly appreciated.
Alpha 1 Enterprises Inc
Al, you may try contacting the Contractors License Guru. He may be able to help you or send you in the right direction – https://www.contractorslicenseguru.com
Is it a legal requirement to put your license # on your letterhead?
I would appreciate any clarification.
Hi Daria. No, you do not need to include your license on your letterhead unless you are using your letterhead for advertisements, proposals, or contracts. The CSLB has a rather old, but still accurate, advertising fact sheet that is helpful – https://www.cslb.ca.gov/Resources/GuidesAndPublications/AdvertisingGuidelines.pdf
I am trying to understand what study materials I would need for a C-2 license and how to obtain said materials. On the CSLB website, there is a list of 7 recommended resources to read, though none seem to be an official study packet. Can you recommend how i could obtain adequate study material without purchasing 7 “recommended” books?
In addition, how often is the law and business portion of the study material updated? If I can get a book from a few years back, would that be useful?
Hi Tzipora, I suggest you contact Phil Cocciante, the Contractors License Guru, whose website is https://www.contractorslicenseguru.com. He’s a good guy and can likely point you in the right direction.
Thank you for sharing how a contractor must have at least four years of journey-level experience to get a license. I’ll only look for one with a license. That’ll be enough proof that they know what they’re doing.
We are a well established licensed and bonded timber frame manufacturing company in Montana. We’ve been contracted to design, fabricate and deliver a building in California. What, if any licenses, will we need to send our crew to the site to erect the building?
If you’re not installing you would be considered a supplier and would not need a license.
I recently visited the CSLB website and noticed that the wording for the experience requirements has changed. It looks like an Architecture degree moved from 3 years of experience to 2 years. Can you clarify your thoughts on this?
I think I am in a similar boat as some of the other people who have commented here over the years; I have an accredited professional 5-year Bachelor of Architecture degree, post-professional Masters Degree, 7 years of experience in Architecture firm settings, 2 years in a development company in design and construction project management, and am now an APM at a medium sized GC company in California. I’d like to determine if I need 1 or 2 years of on-site experience to sit for the license.
Thanks for any help you and your team can provide!
Hi Patrick. Sorry for the delay replying. I found the language you were referring to and, indeed, they moved a four year degree in architecture down from a maximum of 3 years credit to a maximum of 2 years credit. They also made other changes too, providing up to 3 years credit for a four year degree in landscape architecture if applying for a C-27 Landscaping license, and up to 3 yeas credit for a four year degree in interior design if applying for a C-33 Painting and Decorating license. From the best I can tell, these changes were made in 2018. Finally, based on your education and experience, it looks like you would qualify for up to 2 years credit for your architecture degree (if applying for a Class B General Contractor license), leaving you with two years needed for experience, which you may qualify for through your experience working at the development company and/or general contractor.
Great Article! The information you have mentioned in this article is really impressive. Thanks for sharing!
Hi Garret, I currently work for a construction company (corporation) that is looking to start manufacturing cabinets and needs me to obtain a C-6 license. I am wondering if I can apply as an individual and use it to qualify the corporation, or if I would have to apply as an RME under the corporation.
Hi David. You can do it either way. Apply for the license and once obtained serve as either the RME or RMO for the company.
Does working as a sales rep count towards the 4-year required journeyman level experience in CA? I have been a 1099 sales rep selling mostly roofs, windows, exterior coating systems, pavers, turf, kitchens, and baths for several years for various companies.
Likely not, sorry.
Great tips. Each time i visit your blog i learn new things, thanks for sharing
As a holder of a current Schedule B General Construction License for 10 years in CA. How much of my work experience can I use towards an application for a Schedule A General Engineering License here in CA. Thank you
Hi Arthur. The experience requirements to obtain a Class A Engineering license are quite loose and require 4 years of experience overseeing general engineering work.
Adding an A to a B license can be very difficult. The applicant will need to show 8 to 10 years of part time work to cover 4 to 5 years of full time experience. The cslb will require proof of the A experience with permits and copies of contracts. The experience must include fixed or public works projects that require specific engineering knowledge and skill. Excavating, grading, and paving of city streets is no longer acceptable A experience.
Those were some amazing information. This helps me so much to understand some useful thing.
Very helpful, Thanks a lot for sharing worthy information with us.
Hi, great post!
We worked with a designer to create workstations (mostly wood partitions) for our office in Santa Monica. The designer referred us to a builder who gave us a $23K bid, for which we paid half up front. During installation, I noticed that the work was shoddy and I inquired if the carpenters were licensed—they are not. Before I would allow them to come back and fix the job, I reached out to CSLB agents and I was advised that the workers should not be allowed to perform any more work on our premises because they are unlicensed. I was also informed that they never should have installed the workstations because they are not licensed. They charged us $1200 for the installation!
I spoke to the designer and builders about their lack of a license and they argued that they didn’t need a license because they essentially prefabricated furniture and placed it in our space, but that is not true. They installed several benches and attached other things to walls, and they charged us ~$9K for the construction labor on the job. While the agent confirmed that a license was needed to install the products, she couldn’t say if a license was required to construct the products—potentially a C-6 Cabinet, Millwork & Finish Carpentry license. There are a lot of issues with their work, including sharp edges, unfinished wood, glue marks… they even installed temporary extension cords in the partitions for electrical, which I guess was in the specs! Their lack of a proper license might explain why the product is so poor. My goal right now is to educate myself as best as possible so I can take the appropriate steps to fix the issues quickly and restore my business to proper functioning. To move forward it’s important that I know if a specific license was needed to construct the materials in the first place. Do you know if a license is needed to take on a $20K+ job that includes building custom wood partitions, panels and benches for a commercial space?
Hi Jonathan. With respect to licensure, the architect and contractor are likely referring to the manufacturer exception to the licensing law. It generally provides that manufacturers who do not install products permanently affixed to real property do not need to be licensed (the appliance guys, furniture guys, etc.) “Your” guys, given the work they performed, appear to need a license.
Would an associates of science degree in Engineering and Construction Technology from an accredited college count as 1.5 years of credit?
Hard to say Alan. You can get a maximum of 1 ½ years of credit for an Associate of Arts degree from an accredited school or college in building or construction management and a maximum of 2 years of credit for substantial college or university course work in accounting, architecture, business, construction technology, drafting, economics, engineering, mathematics or physics.
Hi, I’ve tried to get my B license previously but was unable to prove experience since I did not have pay stubs and I did not have sufficient $$ reported on my tax returns for construction business. I’m trying again after being under my brothers B license for last 3 years as an officer. Does that automatically give me 3 years of experience so I only have to prove 1 year maybe with construction project experience forms?
Possibly Vlad. The experience would have to be journey-level experience or above. Credit for experience is only given for experience as a journeyman, foreman, supervising employee, contractor, or owner-builder.
Hello, I have a unique situation that I wanted to ask you about. Our company is a test equipment supplier and we typically hire various contractors (rigging, electrical, pipefitting, etc) to help install our equipment at the customer site. We are bidding on a project in CA and the owner is stating that we must have a contractors license. In the Work Experience section of the application, it implies that the qualifying individual must have minimum 48 months experience, journeyman or higher, but also implies that supervising or overseeing contractor activities may be adequate. I have an engineering degree and many years experience of installing our equipment, hiring contractors, overseeing their activities, etc. If we were to submit an application for a C-61 classification license, do you think that it would be approved? Maybe we just need some legal assistance in preparing the application?
Dan – September 7, 2018
Hi Dan. As discussed in the post you can get educational credit toward the four years of experience. As to journeyman level experience you may find the information in the attached links helpful – http://www.cslb.ca.gov/Contractors/Journeymen/Journeymen_FAQS.aspx and http://www.cslb.ca.gov/Contractors/Applicants/Contractors_License/Exam_Application/Experience_For_Exam.aspx.
We have an RME that we are putting in place. The qualifying individual has a project that he is supervising one day per week until it is completed. When the RME is finalized is his license put on hold and unable to be used anywhere else? Will he be able to continue supervising the other project to completion? Essentially, can the time overlap or does his license end upon becoming an RME?
Hi William. So, a qualifier, whether a RMO or RME, is your qualifier as to all projects not just to specific projects. If your RME is only working one day a week, however, you need to be careful. A RME must be a bona fide employee involved in the business at least 32 hours a week or 80% of the total business operating hours per week, whichever is less.
I’m currently going to college to get my AA in construction management. Once I receive my certification and start working as say a construction project manager would that count towards journey level experience? I read on CSLB’s website that I would receive 1.5 years experience towards journey level experience for my AA degree. I have verifiable apprentice carpentry experience for 5 years but being that after school I would be in a “supervising employee” position. Would that mean I would only need to work in that position for 2.5 years then I could apply for my general B?
Hi Zac. Yes, you’re AA degree in construction management would give you 1.5 years of credit toward the 4 years of journey-level experience or above in the past 10 years preceding your application for a contractor’s license. As to your “supervising employee” position, it would depend on what work you are performing, and whether it qualifies as journey-level experience or above, but assuming it does, you would satisfy the 4 years by working 2.5 years in that position.
Hi. I’m looking to get a C-33 license to paint murals in California. My concern is that on of the requirements is to have “journey-level” experience before you can take the exam. I’ve only painted on canvases and other substrates. Do I need to apprentice with a muralist to gain the experience before take the license exam?
David, you need to show “journey-level” experience, which doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to show that you worked as an apprentice, nor that you worked as an apprentice to a muralist. You can also satisfy the experience requirement by having someone verify that you have journey-level experience doing self-performed work, but it will be looked at closer.
Hi Garret, Great article and thank you for taking the time to write, follow up and respond to questions. I have a couple of questions please and I hope I can get some clarification… I understand it is not legal advice so I am just looking for help to point me to the right direction for doing good past the state and as a business owner.
1) I have had experience in the private residential construction as a project manager for the past 5 years and now I am starting a consulting business, an LLC. I have landed a short term contract (2months) working for a licensed contractor as a project manager (supervising work, doing scheduling etc). Do I need the contractor’s license to practice?
2) Since I have already worked as a project manager in the past, can I use that experience to get some credit/exemption from the exams. I am very confused as to the requirements, since on the CSLB’s website, the information is a bit ambiguous.
Ravi, if you doing project management work through an LLC, you would need a contractor’s license as you wouldn’t be considered an employee of the licensed contractor. As to whether your previous project management experience would give you some credit or exempt you from taking the contractor’s license exam, it wouldn’t. Only certain educational credits will give you a credit toward the experience requirements and, even then, you would still need to take the contractor’s license exam.
I was surprised to see that you are still answering questions after all these years.
I also have one – I received a misdeamor violation for not having workman’s comp. That was today. My lawyer told me it wouldn’t effect getting a license. But upon reading online I’m not too sure.
Its the only thing on my record – I will be taking the test sometime in the near future – I was wondering will my application be denied because of this…or what are my chances in general
Hi John. It will be considered, but whether it will impact your ability to obtain a contractor’s license, depends on the severity of the crime. The CSLB contractor’s license application has this to say “Has anyone listed on this application EVER been convicted of or entered a plea of guilty or nolo contendere to ANY misdemeanor or felony in the United States or a foreign country? NOTE: Convictions that were later expunged from the records of the court or set aside pursuant to California Penal Code sections 1203.4, 1203.4a, or 1203.41 or an equivalent non-California law MUST be disclosed. However, some convictions should NOT be disclosed, including the following:
Convictions that were adjudicated in the juvenile court;
Convictions under California Health and Safety Code sections 11357 (b), (c), (d), or (e) or section 11360 (b) that are two years old or older; and
Charges that were dismissed as the result of successful completion of a deferred entry of judgment program (diversion program) under California Penal Code section 1000.3.
If you checked “Yes” for this question, please attach a statement disclosing all pleas/convictions, including violated law sections, and thoroughly explain the acts or circumstances that resulted in the plea/conviction. In addition, the following information must be included for each plea/conviction: date of the plea/conviction, level of the plea/conviction (i.e., misdemeanor or felony), county and state where the violation took place, name of the court, court case number, sentence imposed, jail/prison term served, terms and conditions of parole or probation, parole or probation completion dates, and parole agent/probation officer names and phone numbers. If you have obtained a dismissal of your conviction(s) pursuant to Penal Code sections 1203.4, 1203.4a, or 1203.41, please submit a certified copy of the court order dismissing the conviction(s) with your application. You may submit the required information using the Disclosure Statement Regarding Criminal Plea/Conviction form that is available on the Forms and Applications page on CSLB’s website.
The information provided will be verified through CSLB’s fingerprinting requirement. Failure to report a disclosable plea/conviction may be grounds for denial of your application.”
I am currently in the process of pulling Owner-Builder permits for an addition and an ADU on my property in Los Angeles. I plan on hiring licensed contractors for everything except some of the finish work(Flooring, Insulation, Drywall, Paint). I plan on getting as much insurance coverage as I can for the project.
I do not plan on selling the property but at some point will use both units as rentals. State Law requires I sign this: “If I sell the property for which this permit is issued, I may be held liable for any financial or personal injuries sustained by any subsequent owner(s) that result from any latent construction defects in the workmanship or materials.”
If I have hired licensed contractors to do the work would I still be held liable in the event of injury if I am renting out the unit or if I do decide to sell the property?
Any advice would be greatly appreciated, thank you!
A renter would not have the ability to bring a claim based on latent defects. However, a subsequent purchaser (owner) could. Thus, you would be wise to include in any contract you have with a contractor an obligation that the contractor defend and indemnify you from any claims brought by a third-party arising out of the contractor’s work.
I’m try to help my husband complete the application for a landscaping license. I understand all the Sections on the application except for Section 4 Personnel. Can you clarify who needs to be listed as Personnel if the Business Entity is a corporation and he will be the QI?
You will need to include all persons listed in the records of the California Secretary of State, typically, the President/CEO, Secretary and Treasurer/CFO. The CSLB will check the Secretary of State’s records to verify this.
I am running a small gutter cleaning and repair business without a license and keeping all my jobs under $500. I just recently have been contacted by a resort that needs a lot of gutter cleaning/repairs. My question is that every building has a separate address. Am I able to charge $500 per address? Also, do I need to stay under the $500 if I’m only cleaning gutters? I understand if I’m doing repairs or installs. But the cleaning doesn’t make sense.
Hi Nate. This doesn’t constitute legal advice (actually, none of my responses constitute legal advice), but particularly so since I haven’t seen any cases or statues definitive addressing your question, but I don’t think that simply cleaning gutters requires a contractor’s license and by extension the under $500 exception does not apply either since it is an exception to licensure. However, if you are cleaning AND repairing gutters you would need to have a contractor’s license if the total value of the work is $500 or more. You cannot divide your work into sub $500 increments and, moreover, the CSLB would likely include both cleaning and repairing in determining whether you exceed the $500 exception. In other words, you can’t take a contract for $1K, not have a license, and then argue that the repair work only made up $499 of the total contract price even if it says so in the contract.
Ok great! Thank you for your response. I didn’t think I needed a license for cleaning and that’s what I’ve been hearing.
However, say I was to be doing repairs. Does the $500 cap count for that specific address period. Or would I be able to do separate jobs on different days. For instance, could I replace a section of gutter on Monday and Wednesday repair or add a downspout and potentially charge $500 for both?
Can’t do it. According to the CSLB, “Work on a larger project, may not be broken down to smaller amounts of less than $500 in an attempt to meet the $500 exemption.” In other words, it is project based, not task based, or working day based.
I am working in a construction business now. CSLB will never give me the opportunity to test to get my own license, I give up. (They don’t accept my B.S.B.A. in management as 2 years credit toward trade experience, and refuse to accept any of my provided construction work experience forms filled out and signed by the people I worked for.) I realize the ONLY way to ever become licensed as a general class B is to “rent” a general class B license, forming a corporation, running that for the RMO, and in 5 years, go take the test. (I have about 35 years as a journeyman employee working for owner builders, that is what I do, by the way, but it is time to start running a business, instead of working so much in the field — I am old now.) At any rate, I put an ad on the internet seeking a class B person to “split” his license with me and a few (1 to 4) others that want to own and operate a small construction business, and working on only our own properties, not even soliciting for work, but only working on our own properties. I did get one response already, and the general class B fellow is a sole proprietor — and I have worked for such sole proprietor class B persons before, they hate the corporate structure, they want to stay small, and even like to work alone. This guy says he realizes he is getting older too, and wants some help. (He’s younger than I am though!) I told him I am not interested in working with him as part of his sole proprietor business, as I am looking to work with my guys in the little corporation I would form, give him 20 percent ownership, and he is fine to join us actually pounding nails, digging trenches, etc. But he doesn’t want to do that, and one main reason is because he thinks he would have to give up his RME for his sole proprietorship and stop doing that, and incorporate his own small business, and be an RMO for both businesses, and oversee both businesses for 32 hours per week. From what I read, he doesn’t have to do any of that. But maybe I read wrong? So can he continue as an RME for his own sole proprietorship, and, at the same time, function as RMO for my little company (which I propose to form)?
It doesn’t sound like he’s an RME if he’s currently working alone. It sounds like he’s just a licensed contractor. He could work for a company you set up as an RMO.
Hello there, I hope you can help us with this. Me and my husband have a real estate company(California based) which renovates and flips single family properties in Pennsylvania for the last 10 years. My husband holds a masters degree in business and would like to see if he can qualify for class B license in CA. He does some work, sub contracts as needed and supervises the renovation. The company currently holds a home remodeling license from PA (last 2 years). Any advice is appreciated. Thank you
He’ll need to show that he has at least four years of journey-level experience or above in the past 10 years immediately preceding application for a contractor’s license, which must be verified by a qualified and responsible person who has firsthand knowledge of your husband’s experience. Your husband might be able to get educational credit for his undergraduate degree but it depends on what his degree was in. For assistance you might try looking up the Contractor’s License Guru on the web. He helps folks like you obtain their contractor’s license.
I wanted to know if it is legal for a general contractor (class A ) to build houses in california. This contractor has no licensed subs.
No, it would not be legal. A Class A Engineering Contractor can only do work “in connection with fixed works requiring specialized engineering knowledge and skill” such as roadways, bridges, etc.
Hello there. I would like to know if a GC (Class B) could be a “paper contractor” in terms of subbing out everything, the entire project to different subcontractors without having a single field crew/technician to perform any physical work if the project involves more than 1 trade/craft? Could this GC charge overhead and profit on the estimate/contract with the owner directly?
Hi Khoa. Yes, so long as the work involves two or more unrelated trades other than carpentry and framing.
I have what might be an odd question. Can a non-licensed person who is NOT in the construction trades serve as a “general contractor” in terms of locating licensed contractors, recommending them to the building owner (as in a home remodel project), and then coordinating the general work? More like a “contracting coordinator” or something like that. (And of course take a small percentage of the overall costs as her/his – her, in my case – payment? From the owner, not the assorted contractors, as that could be considered payola.) I’m about to turn 62 and I’m looking for something I can do as an independent contractor, as it were.
Hi Ruth. Thanks for reading. You might find this helpful – https://calconstructionlawblog.com/2013/08/14/3067/. In addition, I would say that the “coordinating the general work” will likely be problematic. Business and Professions Code section 7026 defines a contractor (i.e., a person or entity required to have a contractor’s license” as any person who “. . . does himself or herself or by or through others, construct, alter, repair, add to, subtract from, improve, move, wreck or demolish any building, highway, road, parking facility, railroad, excavation or other structure, project, development or improvement, or to do any part thereof, including the erection of scaffolding or other structures or works in connection therewith, or the cleaning of grounds or structures in connection therewith, or the preparation and removal of roadway construction zones, lane closures, flagging, or traffic diversions, or the installation, repair, maintenance, or calibration of monitoring equipment for underground storage tanks, and whether or not the performance of work herein described involves the addition to, or fabrication into, any structure, project, development or improvement herein described of any material or article of merchandise.” From your description, this would appear to include “coordinating the general work.”
My take on this would be from a professional construction manager which I am. You would be acting as an Owner Builder or you would be hiring a Construction Manager. Any one they hired would have to be licenced or have a B1 General Contractor classification.
Items I would personally watch for:
1. If you do this this make sure you have decent contracts between the contractors and yourself.
2. Insurance proof either for direct contract as an owner builder or contract bases. Insurance should contain the 3 elements of Liability to you: general liability, Auto and Workman’s Comp.
3. Scopes of work delineating what you want done. Specs of what you want installed.
4. Conditional and un-conditional releases from all parties not limited to-contractor, sub-contractor, supply houses and labor. (labor) If you really want to cover yourself.
5. Contracts in whatever arrangements should address, progress payments, time limits, liquidated damages or other areas you want to address.
The lawyers and sponsors of this website may have more to add to this.
Thank you, Garret and Roy – ah, well, it was an idea, anyway. (I acted as my own “general contractor” for a full kitchen remodel and enjoyed the logistics of it all, thought maybe I could do something like that as a business.)
I think you can.
1 contractor would have to contract between them and homeowner for building part
2 you would contract with homer owner for contract liaison part : payment , leins , job walk, design review etc.
3 have a good relationship between contractor and you so they don’t squeeze you out. After all your bringing the job to them.
I had someone give me a bid for some work that was a good price. I later found out he is licensed in a different state. He said he is allowed by the state to contract under a different name with another co based on some experience stipulation the State has. Basically, he has to prove experience and have his “contracts” approved by the state. When I asked about insurance he said he has general liability. I did not use him as I have never heard of this. Does this exist?
No and no. You need a California contractor’s license to perform work in excess of $500 and there is no requirement in California to have contracts approved by the state.
Hi, I have a quick question I don’t know if you can help us. We are an AZ based company. We were awarded a federal funded job in CA and got our CA lic. to work on the Imperial Dam. The Franchise Tax board says we owe but to our understanding we were not subject to this, but they said that since we registered with sec. of State ( which you have no choice but to do so) that we automatically become an Organized company? Which under the definition of a organized or commercially domiciled we are not.
Thank you for any information.
Hi Stephanie. I’m not a tax lawyer, and you should speak to your CPA, but if you performed work in California you would be subject to California taxes irrespective of where your company is incorporated.
Im trying to get a c-61/D-63. Been in the electrical trade for 10 years. I want to start my own junk hauling business and everything i read says i need at least the D-63 licnese. It requires at least 4 years experience. I dont see why you need 4 years experience to haul trash to the dump. Ive been hauling trailers since i was 16. Even younger when moving trailers around the ranch. Ive hauled plenty of trash from the ranch and my own house when i do remodel work. I cant afford to quit my job to go work for a construction cleanup crew for four years nor could i afford to work for only $500 a job for four years. Is there any other way to get the D-63 construction clean up just so i can haul junk to the dump. Thank you
Hi Don. While you can apply educational credit to the 4 year experience requirement there’s no other way around it.
I can understand the detailed experience for trades but im just trying to figure out what is learned from 4 years of hauling trash. I went into the Marines instead of college and then became a electrician which i learned on the job so no formal school training. Although thru the company im with now put us thru a electrial apprenticeship program within the company. But doubt i can apply that to tbis license. Do tou know the purpose of 4 yeaes experiance to haul trash? Its not like im doing anythign structural. Can i apply years of hauling trailers for personal use? Plus every job ive done ive cleaned up the job and hauled it away haha.
Hi Don. Not to be cute, nor would I be to a former Marine, but I didn’t write the statute. One person you may want to speak to is the Contractor’s License Guru. You can look him up on he internet. He may have a few tricks up his sleeve.
Hi, Garret, I am looking to be a professional mural painter and the CSLB told me yesterday that I need a C-33 (Painting and Decorating) contractor’s license. Frustrating, but I want to do this on the up and up. I would not be making any structural alterations, only adding painted art to the wall. How difficult is it to pass the exam? Can you recommend any good study guides? What experience do I have to show proof of? What needs to be done to keep the license current? I did some projects over a decade ago not knowing I needed a contractor’s license.
Thank you so much for your help!
Hi Karen. I have to admit I was a bit surprised that you would need a contractor’s license to paint a mural, but apparently, and surprisingly, it’s true (at least for projects valued at $500 or more). You can find the CSLB’s exam guide here – ohttp://www.cslb.ca.gov/Contractors/Applicants/Examination_Study_Guides/. There are also exam preparation services and study guides you can find online. Experience requirements are outlined in this blog posts and you can read more about maintaining your contractor’s license (once you receive one) here – https://www.google.com/amp/s/calconstructionlawblog.com/2013/11/05/what-you-need-to-know-about-maintaining-your-contractors-license-in-california/amp/. Good luck to you!
Thanks so much for your help!
My husband is a licensed plumber and gas fitter from Australia with 11 years of experience.
He wants to get his California license as well. How can he transfer his Australian license to a California license?
Hi Lindsey. You’re husband cannot “transfer” his license, but it appears that he has the experience to apply for a California contractor’s license.
I have civil engineering degree, also having 1 year of experience working for demolition company. Am i qualified to get B license?
Sounds to me like you would Kang, provided that your work with the demolition company was at journey-level experience or above.
I had a valid C-10 License as was the RMO. My license went inactive 12-31-2011. I have opened a new corporation and would like to get my C-10. Can I still qualify as the RMO without taking a test?
Hi James. You can reactivate your license by contacting the CSLB at (800) 321-2752 and requesting a license reactivation application. More information can be found here – http://www.cslb.ca.gov/Contractors/Maintain_License/Reactivate_License.aspx
If I may Garret…. James, your license expired in 2011, it is not inactive. Because it’s been over 5 yrs since you were a qualifier on an active license, you will need to apply for a new license and take the law/business and trade exams again. The corporation that was associated with your old license has been dissolved and cannot be resurrected.
Question, if I am a lawyer in good standing and with an active license and a degree in business/finance from a four year university, is that only good for a 2 year exemption of the 4 year rule? And if I also worked as an owner-builder for the past 4 years on a family cabin restoration project in the State of Maine (which can be verified by contractors I hired who have firsthand knowledge of my experience during the time period for the work in Maine), does that out of state work qualify to satisfy the 4 year rule?
Hi Emma. Your law degree will count towards two of the four years. Your experience as an owner-builder, even though you gained this experience out of state, will also count toward experience. As you’ve noted, however, you need to verify that experience.
Thanks Dave!! He has done a handful of framing, wood & metal stud and installing doors, windows, lights, ceiling, insulation, and concrete on same project. But we need to clarify wether to write on 1 page of work experience and group all that framing together with the unrelated trades or separate them as they were at different companies (but he’s self employed?!) and has a co worker who worked at both companies with him to certify. Getting confusssiinngg! I will reach out to License Guru and told him you referred me! 🙂
First off, thank you for taking the time to read my question! I am helping my husband (he currently holds a home improvement sales person license from cslb) with his application for a B license (planning to get C-2 after B) and we keep running into the same problem on the experience portion, how do we “show experience in framing and at least 2 unrelated trades”?? What exactly is “Framing” in terms of work experience? My husband and I went through all the classifications and found that through working with his company (2 different companies to be exact, one construction and the other insulation air duct –but he is self employed) over the past 3 years he has experience in various unrelated trades for example C-61/D64/C-2,C-22 – Asbestos Abatement, HVAC repair, duct installation, installing new belts, installing new insulation on a/c units and sheet metal. SOLAR C-46 (install roof mount collectors Install ground mount collectors, Install building integrated Weatherproof penetrations Install radiant and air systems Photovoltaic (PV) System Installation) CONCRETE (C-8 installing concrete pavers stamped concrete planters), DRYWALL (C-9 framing with beams and drywall ceiling, install metal/wood framing systems, Install various ceiling assemblies. FENCING (C-13), C-27 – Landscaping Contractor (drip irrigation systems, remove trees, artificial turf) C-33 – Painting and Decorating Contractor (tax coat/cool life) C-34 – Pipeline Contractor, C-36 – Plumbing Contractor (replacing sewer pipe) C-39 – Roofing Contractor, doors, windows, patio cover, patio enclosure….. He often does projects for customers that include various of the above classifications.
Back to the question, the cslb defines framing as “A framing and rough carpentry contractor performs any form work, framing or rough carpentry necessary to construct framed structures; installs or repairs individual components of framing systems and performs any rough carpentry or associated work, including but not limited to the construction or installation of: sub-flooring, siding, exterior staircases and railings, overhead doors, roof decking, truss members, and sheathing” -Is this the correct definition that cslb is looking for to show experience for the B license? We are confused because “Framing” is so broad and although he has done it before we want to ensure it is in the right context? Can you provide an example?? Does framing include installing windows? doors? does my explanation above describe it accurately??
Another quick question for advice, when I called the cslb the woman stated we should not list both employers but rather self employed for the full time period of experience above, would you recommend that? He also has a 4 year degree in economics with a signed letter from the university and transcripts. I just want to avoid any application being sent back because our lack of understanding the classifications and describing the duties correctly. Any advice on how to write the specific trade duties and how to show framing is greatly appreciated 🙂
Hi Scarlet. Let me try to respond in reverse order. If the experience your husband is claiming was done while self-employed he should indicate so. As to framing, it really depends on your husband’s experience. Installing windows and doors in and of itself does not necessarily involve framing. If, however, your husband framed doors and windows as part of overall framing of a house then of course that would involve framing. It is also important to remember that because every job is different, and, of course, because every CSLB licensing tech reviewing someone’s experience is different, there are going to be differences in the weight given to someone’s experience and that there’s no one size fits all. If you have concerns or are having your application rejected there are companies that can assist you. One such company is the Contractors License Guru. You can find him by Googling him. He’ll charge you a fee but he can give you some piece of mind, which is often worth it.
Scarlett, I second Garret’s recommendation for Phil The License Guru – he has assisted me with various licensing efforts, and he really knows the ropes.
Another thing to keep in mind for your husband’s effort to acquire a B license: the exam may have many questions related to framing. These may include terminology and basic trade knowledge. So if he hasn’t done much framing, he should really study any available training guides to prepare for the test.
Thank you Garret!! I will reach out to the License Guru for help with writing the duties!! Do you know if he can apply for C-2 immediately after obtaining the B license? I spoke with 2 different people at the CSLB with different answers… One representative said if he uses his experience (3 years) plus his 4 year economics degree education he can not use that experience or education again towards a c-2 and will need to work another 4 years to gain the experience in that trade even though that is part of his unrelated trade experience he is using towards his B (hence why he wants to obtain a C-2 himself). The other rep said he can easily apply after obtaining B for a fee and “add it on” to his B, especially because his experience in the 2 unrelated trades focused on C-2/D-64.
Only one classification can be requested on an original application when an examination is required. After that you can add classifications. Furthermore, I’ve never heard that your experience gets “drawn down,” so to speak, and if it does that would be new to me.
I have a question regarding who to contact to report someone who lied about experience on their cslb contractors application. I am familiar with a person (from a former employee of the company) who worked in an insulation company for a mere couple of months, had someone sign and lie on certification of experience form that it was for 4 years and complete license and open company in San Francisco area. Does cslb investigate after the fact? Can you advise me on what you would do in this situation?
Hi Andrea. I don’t know, but you may want to start by contacting the California Contractors State License Board’s Statewide Investigative Fraud Team. Their Northern California office can be reached at (916) 255-2924, their Central California office at (559) 490-0580, and their Southern California office at (562) 345-7600.
Great blog. I have a question regarding the manufacturer exemption aspect. We are a business located in Wisconsin. We sell and install fixed theater seating as you would find in auditoriums. We rarely bid on projects in California (potentially 5-6 bids/year). Would we be required to hold a contractors license for California? The question I guess lies in whether or not our product is considered a fixed part of the structure. It can be removed without compromising the structural stability, in other words it is bolted to the floor and may get replaced/upgraded in 15-20 years. Would you be able to lend any insight into this? It hardly seems worth the headache to bid on a few jobs a year. Thanks again!
Hi Samuel. You likely would. There is a manufacturing exemption from the licensing laws which applies to manufacturers who sell and/or install finished products that do not become a fixed part of a structure. The cases in this area are inconsistent but selling and installing fixed theater seating would likely require a California contractor’s license.
If your license has been inactive (I have been paying the 4 year inactive fees) for more than 5 years and you want to activate it, do you have to retake the exam or just order and fill out the application for reinstatement? Also if I have a specialty license and want to apply for a Contractors B, would I need to take the exam and show 4 years experience or does my inactive trade license show that I have the field experience needed?
Hi Berry. Sorry for the delay responding. You will need to complete and submit an Application to Reactivate Inactive Contractor’s License. There is no need to retake the exam. If you want to add a classification, however, you will need to take an exam.
Great read and pretty much the most easily understandable and in depth article on how to get a contractors license that I’ve come across. I have been doing home remodeling and handyman work for almost 4yrs now, with someone who is licensed in a different state (so technically unlicensed in CA). He is old and ready to retire and basically doesn’t care to get a license in CA. I, however, am young and would like to pursue this as a career.
I have a question about something that may have been left out:
Experience aside, are there any reliable study guides available for taking the contractors exam? Basically any way to self-study for the exam without having to take a class?
I recently bought an exam prep book from Amazon, only to find that it was a cheaply made knock off that had missing, unfinished and severely typo’d sentences. Just 2 pages in and I couldn’t read anymore, promptly got a refund from Amazon.
Hi Paul. You may want to try the California Contractors License Guru – http://www.contractorslicenseguru.com/. He comments periodically on this blog and is an excellent resource for study guides.
Thanks Garret! I have exactly what you’re looking for Paul. And I can help you with the licensing process as well.
Thank you Garret/License Guru! I will be in contact soon!
Is it possible to get a “B” General Contractor license for the sake of getting one? I’m not ready to start a business or take on the financial responsibility but would like to have the license number for when the times comes.
Hi Mike. Thanks for reading. Sure, you can get a Class B General Contractor’s license without actually using it. You’ll need to qualify for the license and pay the fee though.
Im 27 years old have over 10 years in construction, and have over 5 years in painting at journeyman level looking to get a license, my father who has a lapsed general contractors license can be my qualifying individual, who can vouch for all of my experience, since the painting contractor i worked for refused to be my qualifying individual. Im wondering if there will be a problem since his license lapsed, he still has all the knowledge of over 35 years of construction and says im ready, but need to know if this would work, i cant trust the other guy since he is very shady in some ways doesn’t actually have a license, his license has someone elses name on it,,
Thanks im sooo ready been waiting to get a license for years ive put in my time and never have screwed anyone over i will be an awesome contractor… please help…
Hi Greg. It shouldn’t be a problem for your father to verify your experience. There is no requirement that the verifier have an active license.
I have an aa in business along with a bunch more college credits. The guidelines for how much credit I will receive towards my experience requirement to obtain a specialty license is vague. Do you have any insights?
Also, I work as a handyman in my trade. How difficult is it to use this experience towards my experience requirement? Thanks
Hi Fenderking99. The amount of educational credit you will receive depends on the degree received and courses taken. You can get up to 1 1/2 years of credit if you have an AA degree from an accredited college in building or construction management. You can also receive up to 2 years of credit upon submission of transcripts for course work in accounting, architecture, business, construction technology, drafting, economics, engineering, mathematics or physics. As to experience credit for your work as a handyman, you’ll need to have someone verify the work you have done to show that that work is journey-level experience or above.
Juan, it depends on how long you’ve had the B license. You’ll need to show at least four years of A experience. And the CSLB may ask you to prove your A experience. Why? They’ll want to know how a B contractor obtained that A experience.
Hi Garret , I have a class B license and i want to know what do I need to apply for a class A. Thank you.
Hi Juan. The CSLB has an examination guide for Class A licenses which can be found here – http://www.cslb.ca.gov/Contractors/Applicants/Examination_Study_Guides/. Also, there are a number of contractor’s license test courses available including this one – http://www.contractorslicenseguru.com/. Good luck to you.
Hello, I am wondering if a person can apply for class A and B licenses at the same time in California?
Hi Ali. Thanks for reading. I’m not aware of any restrictions.
I don’t really have any questions thus far, I just wanted to say thanks for an awesome article and helping all of us guys and gals out.
These comments have been really helpful.
Hi Garret I want to apply for my contractor license, I have more than ten years experience in journey level. But currently I only have two years of paystubs an 2 years that’s my boss can sing me off for work experience I also have 4 years of self employment taxes as handyman work. how many years of experience will I be able to use towards my contractor license.
Hi Noe. While paystubs are helpful they’re not the only documentation you can provide to the CSLB to prove you have the requisite experience. While the documentation a CSLB examiner will consider sufficient varies from examiner to examiner you can provide copies of contracts, bills and receipts, and you can also get education credit toward the four years journey-level experience.
Hi, Thanks for this informative blog. I am 27 years old and recently moved to CA from Australia. I completed a 4 year apprenticeship in Australia and have had a total of 9 years in the building industry as both foreman and self employed builder. How much of the Australian experience can I use here in CA to get my license.
Hi Barry. You need at least four years of journey-level experience in the past 10 years immediately preceding application for a contractor’s license and can receive up to 3 years of credit with submission of a Certificate of Completion of Apprenticeship from an accredited apprenticeship program or a certified statement of completion of apprenticeship training from a union in the classification being applied for. How much your work experience in Australia will be considered, and whether your apprenticeship training in Australia will count, will depend on the sufficiency of your backup documentation and the CSLB examiner reviewing your file.
For a sole owner to become a qualifier for a Corporation, without holding 20% of the Corp, they would have to make their current license inactive or disassociate?
Hi Berry. The 20% ownership requirement only applies if you are qualifier for more than one corporation.
My husband worked for many years in the construction industry. From tilt ups to homes- he is very skilled and knowledgeable.
For the last 8 years however he has worked as a seasonal firefighter.
If we want to start a family business- can he still attempt to get his CL?
His dad had his License but hasn’t used it in the last 10 years that I believe. Could he help restore that?
What are his options?
Hi. Your husband may have difficulty meeting the experience requirements even with educational credits. He will need to show that he has at least four years of journey-level experience “in the past 10 years immediately preceding application for a contractor’s license,” which he may have difficulty showing. Alternatively, so long as your father in law is willing to serve as a qualifier – that is have responsibility for the day to day activities of the company – he may be able reactivate his license.
Hi. I already have a class “A” license, but want to start building and selling houses, Can I build houses with class”A” license or I really need to get the class “B” license? Thanks for your help.
Hi Manuel. You would need a class B general contractor’s license.
Sorry, my fault, I don’t think Im explaining it well. Let me try one more time. Thx! Can an Officer in Corp A that is not the QI, qualify for the QI for Corp B? Since all Officers in Corp A are all licensed individuals through the Corp license?
Hi Berry. Yes, they can.
Considering a Corporate License covers the officers associated with it, if the CEO serves as their Corps QI would our company be able to use one of the other covered officers for our Corps QI? Thanks
Hi Berry. Thanks for reading. If I understand your question correctly you’re asking whether another officer (or employee) of your company can serve as the company’s qualifier if your company’s CEO, who serves as the company’s qualifier, leaves the company. The answer is yes but you would need to submit an Application for Replacing the Qualifying Individual -http://www.cslb.ca.gov/Resources/FormsAndApplications/ApplicationForReplacingTheQualifyingIndividual.pdf – and the individual will need to show that they have the experience (and, may also be required to take a test) to show that they can serve as the company’s qualifier.
Okay, thank you. Does the same pertain in a situation where my Corp would be able to use a covered officer (but not the QI) of a different Corp as my Corp’s QI?
Hi Berry. I’m not sure if I’m answering your question but a qualifier can serve the qualifier on more than one license provided that: (1) there is common ownership of at least 20% of the equity of each company in which the qualifier serves as qualifying individual; (2) the other firm is a subsidiary or joint venturer of the first company; or (3) the majority of the partners or officers of the two companies are the same. However, even if a qualifier meets one of these conditions, he or she may not serve as the qualifying individual for more than three firms in any one-year period.
My husband is a C-33painting contractor has been for 38 years. I have been working with him for 15 years. Doing wall paper , painting,glazing, billings etc. We are a husband and wife team. He has a sole properitor license. He recently became ill and I need to take over. How do I turn the license over to my name. I got my own ENI number but don’t know where to go from there. Please help me with steps. Thanks Connie Tunnell
Hi Connie. You’ll have to apply for a contractor’s license. In certain cases a family member may request that an individual’s contractors license, like your husband’s, be continued to complete projects in progress and undertake new work for a reasonable amount of time, but a continuance will only be granted if the individual holding the contractor’s license has passed away.
In 2004-05 I attended the electrical maintenance course at CCOC in Santa Clara County and received my electrical certification. I am a full time realtor but off the books for the last 12 years I have been at my electrical contractor fathers side from all types of work ranging from commerical/industrial to residential remodeling and new construction. I was recently told that even though I wasn’t on his books that with simply his signature and simple recollection of the 12 year electrical experience I possess, that it would allow me to be able to apply for the electrical contractors license? Am I able to? Is there something else that is required that maybe the contractor who told me this is missing? I do really possess a ” journey mans” knowledge of the profession however i find it hard to believe that if the above hearsay isnt accurate then there must be a way for individuals like myself to apply and prove that they ready to take the license exam. I want to be start using this valuable electrical knowledge to my advantage by acquiring my license… I’m sure my post shows an obviously earnest tone… Please advise… Thank you in advance for your prompt response.
Hi Ted. You may find this Q & A from the CSLB helpful – http://www.cslb.ca.gov/Contractors/Journeymen/Journeymen_FAQS.aspx. After reading the Q & A you will likely realize that the answer to your question is maybe. The difficulty will be providing verifiable experience and the fact that you were paid off the books, working at your father’s company, may make this difficult.
Good morning I have just one question. If I do not posses the four year experience for the specific type of license what can I do? If I can do anything. I would like to get the C-33 for painting (I believe C-33 is the correct one).
Hi Samuel. You’ll have to work doing work that requires journey-level experience or above in the classification in which you are seeking a license. However, you can get educational credit towards the four year experience requirement. You mind find the following information from CSLB helpful – http://www.cslb.ca.gov/Contractors/Applicants/Contractors_License/Exam_Application/Experience_For_Exam.aspx
Hi garret thanks for all the info. I am soon to be moving to ca and would like to aply for my clas b general contractor license. My questions are, can i get one before we make the move? or do we have to have a physical address first? If not is there anything i can be doing in the process of applying to be ahead of the game for when we are living there?. I am currently a GC in Montana and build custom homes and remodeling of residential properties. I have had my contractor’s license for 15 years . Through reading your blog i gathered that ca and mt are not reciprocal. So i will need to apply just like everyone else. Any advice on moving forward would be appreciated. Thanks, Jesse
Hi Jesse. Sorry for the late reply. It’s been busy, Congratulations on your move. You are correct that there no reciprocity agreements between California and Montana so you’ll need to apply for a California contractor’s license. There is no requirement that you have a California address before applying for a California contractor’s license, however, if you are going to work through a business entity (as opposed to a sole proprietorship) you’ll need to form a business entity (if you haven’t already) or register the business entity (if you already have a business entity) with the California Secretary of State.
Great job with the blog. You and The License Guru make a great team. I am an electrician of 12 years. I put myself behind the 8-ball and have not passed my Journeyman exam. I also have been working for a licensed GC for a year as a project manager. Can I use my electrical hours as my apprenticeship (equal to 3 years on GC B application). I would also pass my Electrical Cert test and work for one year to hopefully meet those requirements. Also, do I need to journey for 4 years in two more unrelated trades or will my electrical trade experience eventually be enough?
Hi Jason. Thanks and sorry for the delayed reply. This is a question that the License Guru would be able to better answer than I would.
Good morning Gentlemen. You must list the corporate name as filed with the Sect. of State. If you are using a dba, include that after the corp name. i.e. ABC, Inc. dba Berry’s Construction Company
Thanks. I’m not sure I agree. B&P Code section 7059.1(b) provides that “a licensee shall not conduct business under more than one name for each license.” There is also a case, Ball v. Steadfast-BLK, LLC, which raised the issue of a contractor contracting under a DBA that was different than what was listed with the CSLB. While the facts in that case involved the use of different DBAs (one DBA was listed with the CSLB while another DBA was used on contracts), the concern (to me) is that if your company was incorporated under the name “ABC Contractors” and you’re doing business as “ABC Plumbing” but not “ABC Contractors dba ABC Plumbing,” you run the risk of running afoul of Section 7059.1(b). And because the CSLB application requires that you include, in the case of business entities, that you include the corporate number assigned by the Secretary of State, the CSLB should be aware that the name listed on the application is a DBA.
Never assume what the CSLB should be aware of. LOL As far as the app goes, they must list the corp name as filed with the SOS and the dba if the business will be using it on their contracts and in their advertising. I can’t find the reference that states they must use/advertise the corp name with the dba or just the dba by itself. If I find it I’ll pass it on.
If you would, I would appreciate it Phil. Thanks!
In the Business Name area on the application ( using an RMO to qualify my Corporation for the license) do you have to put your Corporation name there or can you use the DBA that is attached to the Corporation?
Hi Berry. You should indicate the name under which you will be conducting business, and if it’s a DBA, you should use the DBA.
Great Information! Thank you for clearing that up! So for clarity, we would just need to put him on as an “Officer” of the company? And how do the bonds work in that situation… Since he already has his own bond, would our SCorp get bonded as well and then all would be covered in that aspect?
The company will need a license bond of $15k and the qualifier will need a qualifier bond of $12,500. The CSLB will send you a letter detailing the required bonds after you submit your paperwork.
Hi Garret… if I may,
If the RMO lists less than 10% ownership on the license application, he will be required to have a “Bond of Qualifying Individual.” 10% or more, no individual bond required.
If the RMO is a qualifier on any other active license, the RMO would need to show at least 20% ownership on the application. If 20% isn’t feasible, the RMO would have to disassociate or cancel the other license(s) where he is the qualifier.
Thanks Phil. Agreed.
If we are looking to put on an already Licensed and Bonded General Contractor as our Qualified Individual (RMO) to our S Corp. Does he have to own at least 10% equity of our Corp? Any equity? 20% equity? And how does the bonding work in those scenarios? I’m starting to realize its quite the process and additional tax responsibilites to add on an officer with that amount of equity ownership…
Thank you so much for your knowledge!
Hi Dez. Zero percent to anything above. An RMO is a Responsible Managing “Officer,” not necessarily a shareholder, although he/or she could be, of course.
Thanks for the info. We just have an S Corporation (no LLC), no Contractor License yet. (The gentleman who will serve as our QI (RMO) does not yet have his Contractors License)
So would the steps be:
1. Put the soon to be Qualifying Individual on the Corporation at 20%
2. Have the soon to be QI, then fill out the Forms for Original Contractors License naming our Corporation on the Business area…
3. Take and Pass the Exam
4. Then the QI or the Corporation would purchase the Bond???
5. Corporation would get the Insurance…
Thank you again!
Hi! Getting so much good info from these postings! I do still have an extended question… We know a gentleman whom has around 15 years of construction experience. He will be getting his contactors license asap and we will be using him as the RMO (with 20% equity owner) for our Remodeling Corporation which is 2.5 years old.
In this situation, what are the best steps to take… Do we put him on as 20% ownership first, then have him qualify and take exam? Also does he get the bond and insurance under him or would our corporation do that?
Thanks for your advice, we just want to make sure to take the correct steps and least expensive route.
Hi Dez. If you already have a California contractors license you should already have a RMO or RME and you would just need to complete and submit an Application for Replacing the Qualifying Individual or an Application for Limited Liability Company (LLC) Replacing the Qualifying Individual, depending on whether you’re an LLC or not. If you don’t have a California contractors license you can just complete and submit an Application for Original Contractor License or an Application for LLC Original Contractor License, again, depending on whether you are an LLC or not. It’s cheaper and faster to do it this way rather than submitting 2 applications, one for the qualifier and another for the company. As to the bond for qualifying individuals (there are no insurance requirements for qualifying individuals) it would typically be the company which secures and pays for that, but you can work it out however you wish with your RMO.
Hello Garret, thanks for all your great info. I have a question, Id like to break into the asphalt paving consulting field and would like a bit more info on this. I would like to get a C-12 license to show clients that I know what im doing. Do I still have to get bonds and other contractor requirements even though I will not be performing the work?
I currently work for my fathers paving business and have been there for over 15 years. I currently also filed an LLC with the state so what i am reading is that the LLC needs a license as well, is this correct?
Thank in advance
Hi Ulises. Yes, you would still need to take and pass an examination for the license and ger a license bond. In addition, while LLCs can obtain a contractor’s license, in addition to a license bond you need to obtain an employee bond and there are insurance requirements as well. You can find additional information at – http://www.cslb.ca.gov/About_Us/LLC.aspx
I just passed my last examination. At the centre they gave me several documents which I have to fill out and send back to the CSLB.
I have some questions:
Where I can buy a required bond? I have asked some people and prices were tremendously different. What is the real price for the license bond? May you recommend some trustworthy insurance companies from whom I may obtain the bond?
I wish to thank you are providing an amazing, easy to read and very informative data for all us! I enjoy it a lot!
Hi Alex. Congratulations. There are a number of companies who provide license bonds, and I don’t profess to know all of them, but you may try giving the folks at Suretybonds.com a call.
Alex, you will need several types of insurance to operate a construction business. I suggest that you look for a broker that is experienced with contractors, and they will help you find the right license bond.
Will a DUI from 2 years ago disqualify me for a class B license? I meet all other requirements but I’m not sure if it’s even worth trying. Thoughts?
Hi Jared. You must disclose any convictions. Having said that, a DUI will not automatically disqualify you from obtaining a Class B contractors license. According to the California Contractors State License Board: “Applicants with criminal convictions are not automatically denied licensure, as each application is reviewed individually based on the applicable sections of law. When reviewing criminal convictions, CSLB considers factors such as the nature and severity of the crimes, the amount of time that has passed since the convictions, and any evidence of rehabilitation submitted by the applicant.
For rehabilitation evaluation, pursuant to the California Code of Regulations §869, CSLB is generally looking for three (3) years to have passed after a misdemeanor conviction and seven (7) years to have passed after a felony conviction, without further violations of law. These timeframes are calculated from the applicant’s date of release from incarceration or from the end of probation if no time was served and are subject to reduction or extension based on several factors, including the nature of the applicant’s conviction history as a whole. In addition, any type of conviction could be considered substantially related to the qualifications or duties of a contractor when evaluated in the context of the applicant’s entire conviction record.”
I have an out of state LLC and am the sole employee of the company. I want to do work in California. I would hold a contract with a GC for work and then sub out the labor. It appears that in order to get a contractors license under the name of the LLC, I would myself have to get a license first, so that the LLC would have a “qualified individual” as collateral to the state?
My question then becomes, am I as the “qualified individual” on the public record and thus liable, or would it only be the license held by the LLC the is visible to the public? As I am understanding this, I (between myself and the LLC) I would have to have two licences?
Hi Shaun. Thanks for reading. You can go through the two step process you outlined – you get a license first and thereafter associate your license with your LLC – but the easier, more cost effective way is to do it all at once by having your LLC apply for a contractor’s license with you serving as the qualifying individual. As a qualifier of a business entity you would be protected under the same limited liability rules which apply to corporations and LLCs.
It’s worth noting that, for LLCs, the CSLB requires a surety bond of $100,000 in addition to the standard $15,000 license bond.
Agreed. There are additional requirements for LLCs which don’t apply to corporations.
I was trying to find an answer in all the comments, but there are just too many! I am looking to get my C-27 Landscaping license. I don’t have a degree, but I do have a business license and have been running my own mow & blow operation for over 10 years. Do I still need a degree or college experience to obtain my license? I want to bid on a job for the County and they require the license. Thank you in advance for your help!
Hi Jorge. You don’t need to have a college degree to obtain a C-27 Landscaping contractor’s license. Educational credit can be applied to the four years of journeyman-level experience or higher requirements, but it is not necessary. The more difficult situation you may be faced with is showing that your “mow and blow” business, while you have been doing it for over 10 years, qualifies a journeyman-level experience or higher.
I do Have master degree from university in mechanical engineering ,and
i bought , rehab , remodel and resell about 8 property in the last past 2 years.is that count as experience requirement for general contractor licence ?
Hi Matt. Thanks for reading. You need four years of journey-level experience or above in the last 10 years immediately preceding your application for a contractor’s license. You can, however, get credit for qualified education, and you’ve explained, you would likely get two to three years credit toward the four year experience requirement. I think the more difficult issue for you will be verifying the experience that you do have since it sounds like like you worked on your own flipping properties.
Thank you Garett for your quick respond
yes, you are right, i don’t know how can i verify my experience?
maybe titles which shows my name on it or home owner permits which i got from city ?do you have any suggestion?
Sure Matt. Building permits where you are identified as an owner-builder will help but you’ll also need documentation which shows what you did (e.g., material receipts, photos, project files, etc.), which may be difficult to do in your case.
Thank you Garret ,you are great.
Hi Garret – I want to open a scaffold business with a qualifying individual. Who takes the test? Since the classification is a C-61 Special Classification, sub-classification D-39, will there only be the law test? Which publications should we read before taking the test? According to the CSLB, The “Blueprint for Becoming a Licensed Contractor” is no longer available. Is there somewhere I can find an old copy or is there something new that is equivalent? Is the “California Contractors License Law & Reference Book – 2016 edition” recommended? Thanks for any help you can give me. Robin.
Hi Robin. The person who will serve as the qualifier, either as a responsible managing employee (RME) or responsible managing officer (RMO), would take the test. The California Contractors License Law & Reference Book is an excellent resource, and I use it quite often, but there are test-specific kits that are available which may serve you better. You may want to try – http://www.contractorslicenseguru.com. Phil, who runs the site, is a great and very knowledgeable guy.
Thanks Garret. I use the law book all the time too, but it’s worthless when it comes to the exam. My law/business study kit will definitely help. If Robin would like to contact me, I’d be happy to take the place of the Blueprint for becoming a contractor pamphlet and answer any questions they may have.
I have a Bachelor degree in Mechanical Engineer, and I have been working in the high tech industrial for 20 years (design & management). For my case, do I get credits toward a contractor license?
Hi Harvey. You may be able to get two or possibly three years of educational credit based on your degree depending on the licensing classification you are seeking.
Thank you Garret for the quick response! I am interested in building houses, fixer upper, and remodelling. Is this require a class B license?
Hi Harvey. For that kind of work you will likely need a Class B General Contractor’s license.
I have a confusion. If a company has a license, meaning that there is one person in the company who has license. But an employee who is assigned to do a project does NOT have a license; and the company refuses to send a supervisor (it is said the unlincensed employee will serve as worker and supervisor himself). Then how will the quality can be guaranteed? How will a homeowner (customer) receive quality work under such a situation?
Hi Doris. A construction company is required to have a qualifier, either a responsible managing officer (RMO) or responsible managing employee (RME), who is licensed. However, this does not mean that every employee of the construction company performing work on a project is required to be licensed. Rather, it is the responsibility of the RMO or RME to oversee the day-to-day construction operations of the company including its employees. I hope that clarifies things. Thanks for reading.
Hi Garret, great website! Wondering if you have come across the following scenario.
I am a licensed professional engineer (civil) and licensed structural engineer in California and have worked in a structural engineering firms for over 7 years designing buildings.
Do you think those could count as qualifying experience for contractor license?
I have conducted site visits but haven’t personally “performed the trade” or “directly supervised a construction”.
Hi Andy. Your degree in engineering will give you three years credit toward the required four years of journey-level of experience but you will still need to obtain 1 year of journey- level experience within 10 years of applying for a contractor’s license.
Thank you very much Garret.
Hello, i am a UK company working for an International company who has been commissioned to do a commercial fit-out in California. is there an international exemption for the Contractors License ? we are due to go onsite in 1 week and are being held over the barrel at last minute by the venue. any advice would be welcome
Im a business major and my husband has done tile setting for about 15 years as an employee. We want to set up a corporation for the business, can we set up corporation under both of our names but only have him as the licensed contractor? I would do all business aspects… or do we need to both be licensed?
Hi Karen. Forming a corporation is a good idea. However, you will also need a qualifier, who would likely be your husband since he can show that he has the experience to sit for the trade examination for the classification being sought and to sit for the business and law examination.
Great! Thank you for taking the time to reply!
Hello Karen and Garret,
If I may… I would suggest you apply for a license with your husband as the RMO/Qualifier and you listed on the license as majority owner, This will give you the advantage of being a woman owned business. Something to think about.
Good point on the woman owned business Phil. Particularly if you will be involved on public works projects.
That’s great advice! We’ll make sure we do that.
I am interested in Class A General Engineering Contractor License. I have a Bachelors Degree in Civil Engineering (Foreign University) and a Masters Degree in Construction Management from USA. How much experience do I need to qualify? What I understand is that I need 1 year of experience and my foreign degree needs to be evaluated but does my Masters Degree help in any way since its from USA?
Appreciate your help. Thank you
Hi AJ. As you are aware, you can obtain up to 2 years of educational credit to satisfy the 4 years of journey-level experience needed to satisfy the experience requirement for obtaining a California contractor’s license. The only graduate degree I am aware of which satisfies the educational credit requirement is a law degree.
I am interested in getting my license, but I have some experience. On your post it says you can be represented by someone who has the experience to get your license. In my case it would be my brother he been working on construction for 10 years but he doesn’t have a social security but i do have a social security so he could represent me or not??
Hi Luis. Interesting question in which I don’t know the answer with absolute certainty. I believe, however, that to serve as a qualifier your brother will need to have either a social security number or a tax identification number.
I am purchasing an existing business with a corporation contractors license. (C17 glazing) I have 25 years experience, as my family had a business which I worked for 10 yrs then went on for 15 with another company after the family business closed. All of the information on how to be a qualifier is rather confusing. I want to know if I buy the business can I be considered a qualifier to keep the current license? I do have stock I have been buying in the company up to now. Somewhere I read something about percent ownership. I basically want to keep the company’s license as it has a very old number issued 1977. I appreciate any help.
Hi Dave. Yes, you can serve as the qualifier and keep the company’s license.
To apply for an LLC contractors license, you’ll need the LLC number before you apply because it is required on the contractors license app.
Many fail to qualify for the $100,000 surety bond because in order to purchase the bond you’ll need to provide financials for your business. If you are just starting the business, you won’t have the financial records that the surety broker will require. Here’s the link to the CSLB page that outlines the LLC bonding and insurance requirements. http://www.cslb.ca.gov/About_Us/LLC.aspx
Hi Garret and Jim,
If you want your license issued to the LLC, you’ll need to create the LLC before you apply for the license. You could apply for a sole owner license then change it to the LLC, but then you’d be paying the initial license fee three times (after all is said and done) and you’d have to buy another bond in the LLC name.
The C20 is a “critical classification” and automatically requires the submission of additional documentation. Click here to view the docs they’ll accept as proof. http://www.contractorslicenseguru.com/application-services/acceptable-supporting-experience-documentation/
I am looking to start an HVAC company within the first half of 2016. I have completed a 5 year union apprenticeship and have been working as a journeyman for 4 and a half years (9-1/2 years total working experience combined). I would like to form an LLC. I do not plan on employing anyone other than myself until the the latter half of 2016 or first quarter of 2017.
my questions are:
1) Would you recommend applying for a sole proprietorship license first and then creating an LLC later? ( I ask this because of the license gurus previous post about challences of obtaining an LLC license for a new business)
2)Do I form my LLC BEFORE applying for a contractors License?
3) Other than protecting myself personally from risk, are there any other benefits to forming an LLC as opposed to a sole proprietorship?
4) I applied for a contractors license 8 months ago as a sole and received a letter saying that I had to further prove my work experience. i submitted copies of my union apprenticeship course completion (5 years of schooling) and wrote the dates of my journeymen level work history on my initial application. why would this have been returned to me for further info needed? waited too long to resubmit, there goes the app fee.
Hi Jim. Thanks for reading and happy holidays. You can form an LLC either before or after applying for a contractor’s license. In the event of the latter, you will need to associate your license with the LLC. Forming a business entity such as an LLC or corporation provided you with legal protection because a business entity is considered a separate “person” under the law. As to the reason why the CSLB has asked for additional supporting information, I don’t know, and it would depend on what additional information the CSLB asked that you submit. If they did not indicated what additional information you need I suggest you contact the license examiner who sent you the letter.
Hi Garret. My father has been a lifelong california general engineering contractor license holder. The past few years my father has had his license in an inactive status and has basically been retired. Recently, he has asked me to go into a partnership with him and activate his license. Do I need to obtain my contractor license as well? My father is a Sole Owner. I have worked with my father off and on over the years but not in form of partnership capacity. What is a recommended way to proceed. Thank you Andy.
My suggestion is that you form a business entity such as a corporation or LLC, have your father reactivate his deactivated license, and associate his license with your new business entity.
Thank you Garret.
You’re very welcome.
Hello Andy and Garret,
If I may…. your father does not need to activate his sole owner license in order for him to be a qualifier on a license with you.
Obtaining an LLC license may be difficult for a new business entity because of the bonding requirements. You will need to show financial records that a new business will not have.
A corporation or partnership license will be your options.
Garret and License Guru,
Can you please explain more on why it would be difficult to obtain an LLC license for a new business?
And also, this may be a somewhat stupid question, but do i have to form my LLC before applying for a contractors license if i choose to go the LLC route?
Hi Jim. I think it has become easier. When the CSLB first began issuing contractors licenses to LLCs there were delays because the CSLB was trying to iron out wrinkles in their application process. It is also more difficult, so to speak, because there are additional insurance requirements for LLCs.
Thank you for all the input……:-)
You’re very welcome. Happy holidays.
The CSLB is worthless if you have had a crooked contractor, just go to Small Claims Court. The bumbling idiots at CSLB will fine the Contractor so they get some cash, but you’ll get nothing!! Not worth the headache!!😁
Hi Garret, my husband and I have been recently talking about starting our own construction business with some sort of partnership between only us (joint venture, LLC etc). I personally do not have any experience in the construction field but we were wondering if I can use him as a qualifier to get ME licensed (he’s been doing construction work with a company since 2006; about 2 yrs as journeyman and 6+ yrs as supervisor). Any advice or help to get us on the right direction would be so greatly appreciated! Thanks
Hi Judith. I’m not sure why you want to form a joint venture, which requires two or more companies, each with contractors licenses. However, you can form a partnership, corporation or LLC and have your husband serve as the qualifier either as a responsible managing employee (RME) or responsible managing officer (RMO). As to your husband’s experience it sounds like he meets the experience requirements but you won’t know until submit an application to the Contractors State License Board. Just make sure you adequately document his experience. Good luck to you both.
Sorry for not clarifying, I spent 7 years in the field as a representative and then 9 in the latter half as a customer care manager. Duties did include overseeing large scale repairs and coordinating homeowner and trades in addition to inspections and homeowner acceptance of work upon completion.
Hi Rick you need to have journey-level experience or above and it doesn’t sound like your experience would satisfy that requirement. Of course, the only way to know for sure is to submit an application.
I have worked for a home builder for the past 16 years holding various roles within the organization. I would like to get my class b general contractor’s license. Does the experience I have meet the experience requirement?
Hi Rick. It would depend on what you did and whether you can verify that experience. Each application is reviewed on an application by application basis.
if i was hired on as a plumber without going through an apprenticeship. Can i still get a contractors license?
Hi Clifford. You can obtain experience credit if you go through an apprenticeship program, but you are not required to go through an apprenticeship program to obtain a contractor’s license.
Thank you guys, much appreciated as always.
For the (2) tests: Law & Business and the Trade Specifics (General Building Contractor – B), must they be taken on the same day or can they be scheduled one after another? One would rather focus on one first, pass it, then move on to studying for the next.
Hi Khoa. Good question to which I don’t know the answer. I believe, however, that they are taken at the same time.
The two exams will be scheduled for the same day. But, after you receive the testing notice, you can contact the testing unit and ask them to reschedule one of the exams for another day.
Good to know. Thanks.
Is there a time limit on the credit you can receive for completing an apprenticeship program or college degree?
Hi Marcus. No, there is no time limit on the experience credit you can receive for educational or apprenticeship training.
This question may be redundant and obvious but I need to be particular and hoping you could shine some light on it. Does experience as a Construction Project Manager for a General Contracting and Construction Company qualifies an applicant under the 4 years experience requirement by the CSLB for the General Contractor – Class B License?
The applicant has 2 foremen / field superintendents working under him, as well as many field technicians. However, under the CSLB qualifications page, it states:
A journeyman is a person who is a fully qualified, experienced worker (as opposed to a trainee, helper, laborer, assistant, apprentice, etc.) and is able to perform the trade without supervision, or a person who has completed an apprenticeship program.
A foreman or supervising employee is a person who has the knowledge and skills of a journeyman and directly supervises physical construction.
A contractor is a person who is currently a licensed California contractor, a former licensed California contractor, personnel of record on a California license, or an out-of-state licensed contractor. A contractor has the skills necessary to manage the daily activities of a construction business, including field supervision.
An owner-builder is a person who has the knowledge and skills of a journeyman and who performs work on his or her own property. Owner-builders must complete and submit a Construction Project Experience form for each project.
Nothing above referring to a Construction Project Manager, perhaps a “supervising employee” is considered?
Thank you very much Garret.
Hi Khoa. Ultimately it up to the CSLB reviewer who reviews your application, but work as a project manager should satisfy the requirements.
Are there any consequences for a California licensed contractor to allow an out of state subcontractor to perform work under its license for a temporary job? As long as the contractor executes a hold harmless agreement, will be there any legal consequences for the CA contractor? Thanks for your help.
Hi Theresa. The scenario you are describing sounds like a variation on the prohibition of renting one’s contractor’s license, which is illegal. You could be subject to disciplinary action by the Contractors State License Board. Business and Professions Code section 7118 provides that “[e]ntering into a contract with a contractor while such contractor is not licensed as provided in this chapter constitutes a
cause for disciplinary action.” You may be “lending” your license to an unlicensed subcontractor, thereby making the subcontractor magically appear “licensed,” but in actuality you are still contracting with an unlicensed contractor. But being subject to disciplinary action may be the least of your concerns. What if the subcontractor who is “borrowing” your license fails to complete its work, fails to properly complete its work, or fails to timely complete its work. The owner, or a higher tiered contractor, who thinks he is contracting with you (since it’s your license) will then go after you not the subcontractor, and a hold harmless agreement with the subcontractor, won’t help you out of that situation.
Garret, I have been approved to take the exam and have a date. Just yesterday I received a letter from the board stating that my application has been given to an analyst for investigation for proof of experience. When I applied, I needed to prove that a good part of my experience was done for housing back in NJ. I have been in the trade since 1985 or so, but they only go back 10 years. For the past 2 years I have had a little business of my own doing small jobs and working for a contractor here in Santa Barbara . How can I deal with this investigation without documentation of pay, when the contractor back east gave me a house to live in. He already sent a letter to the board for the original investigation, and they finally gave me the approval. Now they want more? Help
Hi Charlie. You must show proof of experience, not necessarily, pay. The biggest issue I see are: (1) showing that you have four years of journey-man level experience or above in the preceding ten years; and (2) proof of that experience. From my experience the amount of “proof” required varies depending on the examiner. Since you have out-of-state work experience the verification will be very important. However, you can also submit contracts you entered, checks showing payment received for work performed, receipts for materials ordered, daily work logs showing work performed, any apprenticeship certificates you may have, and (if you did union work) any union documentation showing work you have performed.
Great Blog! I have a few questions my father-in-law has been a licensed contractor as a Sole Ownership since 1983 (C10, C20 and C38). He now wants to form an LLC. In addition to obtaining the surety bond, additional insurance. What other steps are needed? I’ve read that an additional application and finger-printing is required? Is this accurate?
Most importantly the LLC has to be formed prior to filing a new application with the CSLB?
Hi Rav. Sorry for delay responding. Yes, you will need to form the LLC first and then apply for a contractor’s license. Since your father already has a contractor’s license and would serve as the qualifier for the LLC I’m not sure if he would have to get Live Scan fingerprinting done. It sounds like you are already aware of the additional bonding and insurance requirements for LLCs.
Hi, I was wondering if a family member can serve as the person verifying my experience if they have been a fellow employee with me at the same companie(s) over the years?
Hi Daniel. I am not aware of any restriction on a family member serving as a verifier so long as he or she has direct knowledge of your experience. Moreover, a fellow employee can serve as a verifier.
Hi, I have a question. I had a license given to me from a license qualifier. I used it for 10years. The qualifer retired so the license was revoked. Can I apply for my own c-10 license? And will I have to take the exams ? What forms must I file to get my c-10 ? Thanks Lesly Chapko
Hi Lesly. Thanks for reading. You can’t be “given” a license by a qualifier. Rather, a qualifier associates his or her license with a company. As such, when a qualifier retires and cancels his or her license so too goes the license of the company. You will either need to get another qualifier to associate his or her license with the company or take the license examination yourself. If you get a license yourself you will need to complete and submit an application for contractors license available on the CSLB website.
Hi Garret and Lesly. There are some variables here and all is not lost. When did the qualifier leave? What is the status of the corp now? What is the status of the license now?
If you were on the license (and it was active) for at least 5 out of the previous 7 years, you might qualify for a waiver of the exams.
I did a search of the cslb records and did not find a license associated with Lesly Chapko. I’d be happy to assist you further if you’d like me to.
Sorry I was writing on behalf of my father. His name is Francisco Rodriguez he had a company Rodriguez Electric from 1995-2002 if I’m not mistaken. His RMO or RME retired and my fathers license was canceled. My father has worked an an electrician for more than 30years, but from 1995-2002 he ran his own company. My question is ….he wants to get a c-10 license now , does he qualify for the waver so he doesn’t have to take the test ?? because of his years of experience and because he had a c-10 before??
That was my question.
Thanks in advance
Unfortunately no. There is no waiver available to him. He’ll have to apply for the license, provide documented proof of his experience, and take the exams.
Thanks very much for the information. This was very helpful.
If a sole owner incorporates, and transfers his license to his corporation, does he need to maintain a personal license as well? Or is a corporate license enough? The contracts would all need to be in the name of the corp to maintain the personal liability limitation. Are there benefits of maintaining both a corporate and personal license?
Hi Mike. An individual associates his or her contractor’s license with a business entity such as a corporation, so yes.
Most people transfer the sole owner license to the new corp to keep the lower license number. There is no requirement to keep the sole owner license, but if you do you could make it inactive and would not need to maintain a bond. Note… bonds are not transferable.
If you do go “sole to corp” and leave the corp at some point, you can apply for a new sole owner (or corp) license.
It’s really all just a matter of need/want/preference.
[…] there are some exceptions to licensing requirements. The specific California exceptions are listed here, but you should check your state’s laws on the subject. Once you’ve determined your need for a […]
My father is currently working in a Licensed landscaping company in which he has 20 yrs of experience. His boss died about a year ago and his daughter took over the company and she has absolutely no experience what’s so ever my father has to do everything for her like the estimates and contact the customers so he is basically almost the one who does completely everything all she does is receive the phone calls from customers and gets the address for the estimates.
-Would this qualify for the experience necessary for a C-27 landscaping license? He did work as a journey man for 15 years while his boss was alive.
-Is it possible for my father to form a partnership with an already licensed friend even though he is in partnership with the company my father is currently working in?
-If it is possible would he be required to take the trade examination?
Hi YM. Yes, your father could form a partnership with someone who is already licensed – so long as the person who is licensed is not serving as a Responsible Managing Employee – and he would not have to take an exam.
Thanks for the reply
Does it matter if the licensed person is already in partnership with someone else?
Thank again and have a great day!
Hi YM. This is a close one. Under the Licensing Law, a qualifier may serve as the qualifier on another license if either: (1) There is common ownership of at least 20% of the equity of each firm for which the qualifying individual serves as qualifier; (2) The additional firm is a subsidiary or joint venture with the first firm; or (3) The majority of partners or officers of the two firms are the same. It’s the third one that can get tricky in your situation and would depend on who the partners and officers of the two partnerships are.
On a side note, how do i get qualified for MBE ?
Hi Dbernard. There are many different minority business enterprise (“MBE”) programs at both the state and local levels in California. You would need to determine the jurisdiction and/or public entity you anticipate submitting bids to and determine what their MBE requirements are, if any.
I have served and apprenticeship of 5 years in welding. My journey experience takes me well over 20 years in the petrochemical and power piping industry and now with a back ground of document management with-in this industry with several projects under my belt well over a 10 year period . Do i qualify for a Class “A” License waived?
Hi Dbernard. Thanks for reading. Your experience may satisfy the experience requirements for a Class A license but you will still need to take the exam if you don’t already have a contractor’s license.
The only way to obtain a waiver is if you held the classification within the last 5 years or have been listed on an active license during the previous 5-7 years and are replacing the existing qualifier.
[…] What You Need to Know About Obtaining … – To perform work on most construction projects in California you need to be licensed by the California Contractors State License Board (“CSLB”). The CSLB publishes a …… […]
Thank you for the detailed article. I am helping out a family member that has reached out to me with questions regarding requirements to start his new business. He is focusing on roof removals/tear-offs and the loading of the new roof material. He has recently purchased the needed equipment and is ready to embark on his new business. Is a license required in his scenario? I was thinking of a C39 – ROOFING license but after reading the classification it doesn’t fit the type of service that he is providing. Thank you for your time.
Hi Gus. Thanks for reading. I believe that roof removal/tear-offs can be performed by a C39 Roofing Contractor or a B General Contractor. There’s also a C21Demolition Contractor license but I don’t know that a C21 license is needed for roof removal. The best thing I can suggest is to contact the CSLB and see if they can point you in the right direction. I’m not sure what you mean by “loading of the new roof material.” If you’re talking about just delivery of roofing material you wouldn’t need a contractor’s license to do so. But, if you’re talking about bringing that roofing material to the top of a roof I think you might need a C21 or B license. Again, I would contact the CSLB to be sure.
Informative write up! I am interested in getting a General engineering contractor license (Class A). Whether a state license is required to do construction work for the federal government? I had received an acknowledgement from CSLB, Now I am preparing for AZ contractors exam with great dedication. But I am confused about the License bonds. What are my bond limits? How long is my bond is valid? Can you please explain about the rules and regulations of this license bond?
Hi Cherla. Thanks for reading. In California, a California contractor’s license is not required to perform work on a federal project located in California. As to license bonds, I can’t speak to what is required in Arizona, but in California you are required to maintain a license bond in the amount of $12,500. As to how long a bond is valid, it depends on your agreement with the surety, but typically that are for a year or more.
I am planning to get into a window covering franchise. Obviously I don’t have four years’ of experience–is that necessary? Any insight would be helpful. Thanks.
Hi Carol. If you are going to install window coverings you will need a D-52 Window Coverings contractor’s license. As mentioned in the post, you can receive credit of up to three years of the required four years of journey-level experience by satisfying certain educational requirements.
Hey Garett Murai I’m interested in getting my c27 license for landscaping. The only problem that I have is that I do not have the verified experience. I’ve been a foreman for two years now. Is there any way I can go around this? I also heard that they are now accepting expierence if you worked unliscenesed but I’m not sure how that can be verified. Have you heard of this?
Hi Mani. You can reduce the experience required if you have educational credit, but even with educational credit, you still need to have verified experience. On your other question, I have not heard of the CSLB accepting experience for unlicensed work, but I don’t know that they check whether your verified experience was related to licensed work or not, either.
Hello I was reading through the blog and this section really caught my eye:
license applicant can be represented by another individual with the necessary experience and skills who serves as the qualifying individual.
So If I am a 20 year Old and have no experience whatsoever and Im trying to get a D-49 Tree service license to start a company with my father who has over 20 years of experience it is possible?
Hi. The short answer is yes. The longer answer is that in order to be a qualifier your father will need to take and pass the trade examination and have enough applicable experience and/or educational credits to satisfy the experience requirements. He will also need to actually serve as a qualifier which generally means that he needs to have actual involvement in the day to day business of the company.
Reblogged this on dianalarr and commented:
Lots of interesting info
The restrictions on applicants for the B classification have made it very difficult for many people to qualify. You’ll get up to two years credit for your four year degree, but the remaining 24-28 months will have to be proved with documentation. If you’d like to send me an email, I can provide you with the list of documents the CSLB will accept as experience verification. ContractorLicenseService@gmail.com
My question is regarding the responsibilities of an RMO. How many hours is he required to be on the site? Is an RMO also under the same guidelines as a bona fide employee or RME (32 hour / 80%)? If he’s not, how would I show compliance to supervised work?
Hi Johan. Thanks for reading. There are no minimum hourly working requirements for a RMO like there are for an RME. However, an RMO, like an RME, must exercise direct supervision and control over the work of the licensed contractor. There are no hard and fast rules as to what constitutes adequate supervision and control but one factor that will be considered is the size of the licensed contractor’s operations. For example, the RMO of a larger general contractor will, due to the size of the company, be unable to exercise the same degree of supervision and control as the RMO of a smaller licensed contractor.
Hello Garret and guru.
I currently live in the state of Tennessee and I run my own handyman/remodling business. I hold Tennessee home improvement license. In addition I have a bachelors degree in business finance. Prior to switching to business school, I was going for electrical engineering major and I have taken extensive courses in engineering and mathematics. My plan is tomove to California and start my remodeling company. Do you think I have a good chance in getting the b-general building licence. Thanks.
Hi Michael. Unfortunately, Tennessee is not one of the states in which California has a reciprocity agreement, so to get a contractor’s license in California you will need to satisfy the work experience requirements and take and pass the written exam. The degree you received and courses you took may provide you with a work experience credit, but given your work experience, you may not need the credit.
And also related question: as we look to apply for our license, we are thinking of applying for a separate classification with another employee, who does not yet have a license. Should we submit both simultaneously? Or wait for our first (presumably quicker) application to go through, then apply for the 2nd classification?
If you are applying for a new contractor’s license without the exam waived you are limited to applying for one license classification.
Theo, you’ll need to wait until the license is issued. Then apply for the second classification using the Application for Additional Classification.
Thank you for including all of this information in your blog!
I was wondering: can an individual serving as an RMO for their own construction company be hired to serve as an RME of a new company? Or does qualifying on multiple license require that they serve as an RMO?
Hi Theo. A RME may not be the qualifier on more than one active license so the answer would be no.
Theo, You can be an RMO on up to 3 corporate licenses if you own at least 20% in those licenses. But if you are an RME, then you can only be a qualifier on that one license and no others.
Hi Garret. Thank you for providing such a knowledge-filled forum. Here is my question: Our company will be applying for a “C-61” specialty classification. Specifically, our specialty classification is D-21 – Machinery and Pumps. There is no trade exam for this, only business and law. I’ll be the RME. Our business is not typically considered to be part of the construction industry, and I’m wondering how to complete the Certification of Work Experience form. Our company provides mainly software engineering and automation controls design/installation. We don’t have Journeymen or anything of that nature. Moreover, while I’ve had 10 years of project management experience, it was in a different industry and for a different company. I’m a full time employee here now, and have been since September. Any advice?
Hi Steve. I am unaware of any requirement that your “experience” be in the same area in which you are seeking a license, particularly a C-61 specialty license. As such, I would include your project management experience.
Hello Steve and Garret,
You must submit experience that is directly related to the classification you are applying for.
I’m looking into getting a license myself. However, it will be a C53 for pool work. My experience is definitely more limited than the 4 years required and I have no current relevant school experience.
My question really is, if I am working as a pool cleaner for my own LLC how do I go about getting experience that is acceptable according to the accreditation board.
Any help would be greatly appreciated.
Hi Jeremy. You have a few options. You can go back to school to get education credits, work for someone else to get the requisite experience, or bring someone on board with the requisite experience to serve as your qualifier. That’s about it.
I can’t find anywhere on these posts what the qualifications are for applying as a general contractor. My last job gave me seven years of experience as a welder/electrician/plumber. Will that suffice to the CSL B as experience towards general contracting?
Hi Petrof. In general you need to be 18 years of age or older;
have a valid social security number; and show that you have the experience and skills necessary to manage the daily activities of a construction business, including field supervision, or be represented by another individual with the necessary experience and skills who serves as the qualifying individual. As to experience you need to show at least four years of journey-level experience or higher in the past 10 years immediately preceding application for a contractor’s license. Credit for experience is only given for experience as a journeyman, foreman, supervising employee, contractor, or owner-builder. All experience must be verified by a qualified and responsible person who has firsthand knowledge of the individual’s experience during the time period covered. You can also get credit for certain education.
What kind of journeyman level experience? Any trade? Multiple trades?
The CSLB regulations require that an applicant have had, within the last 10 years immediately preceding the filing of the application, not less than four years experience as a journeyman, foreman, supervising employee, or comtractor “in the particular class within which the applicant intends to engage as a contractor.”
General B license requires what trade experience? Welding, framing, plumbing, electrical?
Any of the above for a B license.
Thank you. I cant seem to find that written anywhere. Some schools have told me that i need to have been an employee of a framer to get b licence.
Certainly. Good luck to you.
Petrof… you need to show experience in framing and at least 2 unrelated trades.
We are a licensed (In Oregon and Washington) LLC. wondering what the procedure is to get a California contractors license.
You’ll need to file an application for contractors license which can be found on the California Contractors State License Board website. Unfortunately, California has contractor’s license reciprocity agreements with Arizona, Nevada and Utah but not with Oregon or Washington.
When is it appropriate to apply for an original contractors license vs. an LLC Original Contractor License? If I am not yet licensed (about to be eligible in about a month), but want to start a construction company and I know I want it to be an LLC, should/can I just send in the LLC application? Why would I want to submit one form as opposed to the other?
Hi Ace. The Application for LLC Original Contractor License is for LLCs only whereas the Application for Original Contractor License is for sole proprietorships, corporations and partnerships. So, if you will be forming an LLC you’ll need to submit the Application for LLC Original Contractor License. Just make sure you form your LLC first before submitting your application. And, congrats on your near to be eligibility.
The LLC license can be difficult to obtain for a start up business because they don’t have the financials required to obtain the 100k surety bond. You might want to talk to your broker/cpa before going down the LLC path.
Thanks for the input Garrett! 2 more questions:
1) Does a guy who owns 2% in my corporation who is NOT a corporate officer need to have his name on our corporate license? If I understand the form correctly, only corporate officers need to be on the license for a corporation, unlike a sole owner/joint venture where all owners do?
2) Will a currently suspended drivers license of one of the names on the license effect our process at all (since license numbers are requested on the form)?
Also, this might be a dumb question, but am I required to have fax number because its requested by the CSLB?
No, you should be good.
Hi Ryan. For a corporate contractor’s license only corporate officers need to be identified. Regarding a suspended driver’s license, I haven’t encountered this before, but it shouldn’t affect your ability to get a contractor’s license.
Is it possible to become the RME for a company, but live outside of CA? What annual requirements are there (if any) in order to do this? I thouight I read somewhere that one must make (2) documented trips to the state annually to oversee operations, as well as being 80% involved in daily operations for the company.
Hi TJ. I am unaware of any requirement that an RME reside in California. Having said that, an RME must be a bona fide employee involved in the business at least 32 hours a week or 80% of the total business operating hours per week, whichever is less, and if it’s a small construction company these requirements may be difficult to satisfy.
I am interested in getting my license, but I don’t have any experience. On your post it says you can be represented by someone who has the experience to get your license. In my case it would be my husband. How would I go about applying?
Hi Lily. Your husband would need to serve as your “qualifier,” generally, either as a Responsible Managing Officer (“RMO”) or as a Responsible Managing Employee (“RME”). He can serve as a RMO if you form a corporation or LLC and can serve as an RME for any type of business entity including a sole proprietorship. The most important thing is that he has to have direct supervison and control over the day to day construction activities.
Does that mean at the time of me presenting my application he has to go with me? What would we need in order to apply?
You do not need to go in person. You need to fill out an Application for Original Contractor License and mail it in with the application fee of $300.
Thanks for your help!
You’re very welcome.
Question on the skill history. I have been in the building industry all my life. Having worked in licensed HVACR, Plumbing, Home Construction and Commercial construction. So have learned all aspects of construction and maintenance at J level. Over the last 10 years I have lived in CA. Having worked on many projects, some permitted some not. Some maintenance project that was a hourly charge, where the home owner purchased the materials. So no job quoted. Having built additions for family members, turnkey. And major structural repair work. Have built temporary display systems for Art Festivals, that are in excess of $500, but are NOT fixed to the main structure. Have installed display cases and lighting to display cases. Biggest project in CA was a Jewelry Store refit. Which was owner permitted, where I was as a friend helping them out. (doing basically all of the work as well as dealing with the permit office). If I list all of this work, with the owner verifying the work, am I risking an investigation to possibly doing work without a license. (All my clients know I am working under the guises as a Handyman, Family Member or Friend and not Licensed, Insured or Bonded with no paperwork quote.)
Hi Steve. The CSLB’s licensing division is separate from their enforcement division so it’s unlikely they would look into the work you performed previously to determine whether it was work which required a license.
Hi Garret. Thanks for the info. Very informative. I have a master degree in International Relations. Do you think I can get any credit with the degree?
I have a bachelors degree in Computer Science. Not only that, but I got it in a different country too. Do you think I can get any credit for that degree?
I have been working on different projects on my house for a while: from completely remodeling my bathrooms (plumbing, faucets, sinks, tubs), to kitchen remodeling (cabinets, counter top), to replacing all windows and doors, upgraded the electrical panel, painting, drywalls, patio stairs, pillars for the patio cover, and 2 x 100ft block walls. I only have city permits for the electric panel upgrade and for the 2 block walls. I am NOT a construction guy by any means, but I enjoy outdoor physical work for a change and work on these type of projects.
Anyways, I want to associate with a friend who has lots of experience in the constructions field (masonry), but he cannot take his license. He tried once, but failed and he won’t try again. On the other hand, I am not afraid of the exam and I am sure I can pass the exam if I am accepted, but I do not have any formal experience that I can prove other than the 3 permits (2 for the block walls and 1 electric) I’ve got from the city. My friend will do pretty much all the hard work, and I will do the project management, paperwork, customer service, and the site supervision. Can I use my 4-year degree from a different field, and my personal experience to apply for the C29 Masonry Contractor License? Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!
Hi Daniel. Unfortunately, credit will not be given for your degree in computer science. To get credit, you need an AA degree or higher in the areas of accounting, architecture, business, construction technology, drafting, economics, engineering, mathematics or physics. You must also have at least four years of journey-level experience or higher in the past 10 years immediately preceding application for a contractor’s license.
Can an individual apply for a license before starting a company? I am planning on starting a company with a man in a few months, but I was wondering if there was any way he could apply for a license now, and then apply that license to our corporation in a few months when we start it?
Hi Ryan. This must be a popular question today. Yes, you can apply for a sole owner contractor’s license, and then after forming a corporation, have the sole owner contractor’s license transferred to a corporate contractor’s license. to do so, you would apply for an sole owner contractor’s license using the Application for Original Contractor’s License, and after you have formed a corporation, submit a Licensed Sole Owner Applying for Corporate License.
In essence… paying the cslb twice. It’s more cost effective to wait until you have your corporation formed before submitting for a corporate license.
True, you would need to pay the application fee twice, but if the goal is to get licensed so that you can begin working on jobs as soon as possible you may need to bite the bullet and pay the additional $300 to transfer the license to the corporation.
Thank you for this helpful blog. My husband is currently working as a site superintendent / journeyman / foreman for a general contractor. It is time for him to obtain his Class B contractor’s license and I am navigating the paperwork/legal side of things. My question is threefold:
(1) I saw your post from December 2014 wherein you clarified that an individual can apply for a sole owner contractor’s license prior to forming a corporation (or I am assuming an LLC). Can you clarify – in doing this are you simply obtaining a license for you as an individual? I am getting held up here because Section 1 of the Application for Original Business License requests a business name and address. If going forward as an individual obtaining a license – do we just state his name and our home address in this section? In that case, in Section 2 we would check “sole ownership” without any need to register with the Secretary of State for the time being?
(2) Subsequent to obtaining an individual license and prior to forming a Corporation/LLC – is it safe for my husband to subcontract out to his current boss – or would we be opening ourselves up to personal liability issues?
(3) My husband plans to (at least for the next few years) continue as a subcontractor for his current company – do you have a recommendation as to whether a situation like this is better suited for a corporation or LLC?
Thank you in advance for any assistance you can provide – it is much appreciated!
Hi Elizabeth. In response to your questions: (1) Yes, you can apply for an individual contractor’s license before forming a company. If you do so, you would be considered a sole proprietorship, and many sole proprietorship register a dba (doing business as) name; (2) Your husband can subcontract out as a sole proprietorship, however, be aware that as a sole proprietorship your husband would not have the limited liability benefits of a corporation or LLC; (3) Both corporations and LLCs are fine forms of business organizations. LLCs are easier to manage because there are less formal meeting requirements (i.e., annual board and shareholder meetings as there are with corporations) but there are also more requirements of the CSLB. You can find out more about CSLB licenses for LLC’s here.
I am currently applying for a sole ownership license, with my employee serving as an RME. However, we have recently decided recently that we actually want to move forward as a corporation, splitting the ownership stock 70-25, with a third person owning the additional 5%. Do I have to cancel my process of getting a license? Or do I wait, apply for incorporation, and then ask for the license to transfer to the corporation?
Hi Fred. You can do either, namely: (1) Form a corporation and then apply for a corporate contractor’s license using the Application for Original Contractor’s License ; or (2) Apply for an sole owner contractor’s license using the Application for Original Contractor’s License, and after you have formed a corporation, submit a Licensed Sole Owner Applying for Corporate License.
Fred… if your application hasn’t been posted yet by the CSLB, you can change it from a sole owner license to a corporate license. Contact the tech working your application for more details.
I am currently working with a business partner who is a general contractor, who is likely going to retire soon. I also have an employee who has worked in the field for 5+ years who wants to get his license. Would my company be able to transfer the license from one to another to keep work going? (I do not have a license, and mostly handle the business end of our company’s work
Hi Thomas. If you’re employee gets his/her own license they can serve as the company’s responsible managing employee (“RME”). You would just need to file an Application for Replacing the Qualifying Individual. Just make sure the RME satisfies the 32 hour a week or 80% of the operating hours the company requirement, whichever is less, and has actual responsibility for overseeing the construction activities of the company.
Can an RME later change their license to an RMO? I read it is possible as long as you do it within 5 years of leaving a company to become an RMO.
Hi Nick. I’m not aware of anybrestrictions on an RME becoming an RMO, for the same or a different company, at any time. The only restriction is that you can’t be an RME for more than one company and that there are restrictions on being a RMO for multiple companies (i.e., you must hold 20% or more of stock and majority of officers must be the same).
I’ve spent the last 5 years as a supervisor of a construction management company over seeing multiple projects pertaining to roofing water proofing and pavement.
I did not perform the work but I managed the jobs from start to completion.
Surveyed buildings to identify problem and damaged areas help write specifications to correct the these areas and helped clients choose contractors and inspected their work throughout the process.
Would this experience qualify me for a class b license?
Hi Elllis. The experience requirement is for journeyman level experience or higher so your experience will likely qualify. The CSLB representatives who review contractor’s license applications, however, can be uneven in the experience they approve. Just make sure you have supporting documentation and that it is organized.
Hi Garret. Thank you so much for the info! For my situation, I have no experience whatsoever in the business and I do not have a four degree. However, my brother and I are very interested in getting the license and open up our own business. How hard is it for us to obtain one? Do you think that we will be qualified through the board? I absolute do not want to spend any money or time until I have a better understanding of the requirements? Would you recommend me to work for a company to get experience before applying for the license?
Again, thank you very much for creating the blog.
At a minimum you’ll need to satisfy the experience requirements – at least 4 years of journey-level experience or higher within the preceding 10 years of your application – and can receive an education credit under certain circumstances including an AA degree from a community college in building or construction management. Working for a construction company is a great way to satisfy the experience requirements.
I currently live in NY. I have a 4 year civil engineering degree and have worked as a construction manager for 12 years. I am thinking on moving to California to partner with someone and set up a home remodel / window replacement company. We would be hiring licensed subcontractors to perform the actual work. Does the company require to be licenced if all of the actual work is subcontracted out. Will I qualify for a contractors licence as I do not have experience in California. What would be the best company to set up for this scenario. LLC or Inc. Thanks
Hi Garrett. Your first and last name kind of makes me feel like we know each other from an alternate universe. In an answer to your questions, yes you will need to hold a California contractor’s license even if you subcontract everything out. Also, you can use your experience even though it was experience outside of California. And, as to the best type of business entity to form, you should talk to a corporate lawyer, although you should be aware that there are additional bonding requirements in California if you are obtaining a contractors license for a LLC.
Hi Garret and Khoa,
Thank you so very much for your time, diligence, and consideration in helping me with the above. Much appreciated.
You’re very welcome.
Can anyone advise or point me in the right direction to attain a copy of a comparable criminal background check the CSLB uses? The reason being I am thinking about applying for a Contractors license but have no idea what would pop up on their check as I am not young and can not remember dates and details that they claim they require you to list. In the video on their website they indicate you need to list traffic violations? Again I have been driving for over 30 years, it would be impossible for me to remember every ticket I received over that span of time. Please note I am not a criminal, never been in prison, on parole or probation. I have passed background checks to get on military bases, concealed carry background checks as well as some for large private companies for access to their properties (Boeing, Intel, Power generating facilities…). I would just rather know what might be out there before I drop $300 on an application and have it denied. If anything did show up it would be much easier to explain seeing it in writing before filling out the section in the application. FYI…I am an out of state contractor, my company is an LLC in two other states.
Thanks for any advise.
Hi Mijobro. I don’t know the details of the CSLB’s criminal background check other than they will run your LiveScan fingerprints through the California Department of Justice and FBI databases. I wouldn’t worry about traffic tickets though. A traffic ticket, other than for a DUI, is not misdemeanor or felony conviction.
Hi Garret and Mijobro,
You can go to any livescan location in California to have your prints run. Click here for locations: http://ag.ca.gov/fingerprints/publications/contact.php
As Garret said, you do not need to disclose traffic tickets. You do need to disclose any instance that resulted in being booked and/or fingerprinted. Even if you have a sealed or exsponged record, those events would need to be disclosed.
Regarding the disclosure form, you do not need to know exact dates of arrest or case numbers. You can give round-about dates. The main point is just that you’ve submitted a form for each arrest.
Filing as an out of state contractor and meeting the LLC requirements is going to be it’s own can of worms.
Garret,,i have a c61 license for many years now and want to upgrade to genaral B,,,i have worked in another trade ffor 3 years before doing this duct cleaning field/c61,,,,i also have worked alot on our own house in the past years.
what would i need to do to get a b license upgrade?
Hi Brett. I can’t tell you what will guarantee you to get a Class B General Contractor’s License. However, you will need to satisfy the CSLB’s experience requirements – 4 years of journey-level experience in the past 10 years immediately preceding your application – and successfully passing the CSLB’s written examination for the license classification you are seeking.
Thank you for the response! question ,,can experience on these jobs we’ve performed doing duct cleaning unde my license count,,, such as hvac repair ,duct installions,,and installing new belts,installing new insulation on a/c units and sheet metal.? thank you garret
So long as it’s journey-level work or above, yes.
Hi Garret and Khoa,
Regarding bonding and insurance…. license bonds are not transferable. If you go sole to corp you’ll need to purchase a new bond in the corporate name.
Thank you for writing such an informative blog. I truly appreciate every word.
I would like to know more about this section: “For individuals, partnerships, and corporations with a qualifying individual: An Application for Original Contractor License (Exam Waived)” and how it is different from: “For individuals, partnerships, and corporations: An Application for Original Contractor License”? Does it mean that someone in a certain organization already has a Contractor License prior to forming a partnerships or corporations?
I would also like to know if I am applying as an individual and obtain the CSLB license as an individual (for the General Building Contractor (B), and later on I form a corporation, will the license number be the same but just transferred from “individual” to “corporation”? This is especially important to me because the license # is general chronological. I could form a corporation years later after getting an individual license, and do not want my potential clients to think that the latter corporation license # is too new/recent.
The reason I am asking the above questions is to satisfy my inquiries on the following scenarios:
– Obtain an “individual” license and still work as a construction project manager for the construction company I am currently with, but with an enhanced professional title/certification.
– Obtain a “corporation” license straight-up and still work as a construction project manager for the same company.
Will a “corporation” license require me to have more bond, insurance, … than an “individual” one, even though I would be the only one in the corporation to start out?
Thank you so very much for your time, diligence, and consideration in helping me with the above. Much appreciated.
Hi Khoa. You’re understanding is correct. An Application for Original Contractor License (Exam Waived) means that you already have someone with a contractor’s license who will serve as your qualifier. However, regarding contractors license numbers, if you apply for an individual contractor’s license and later form a corporation, your individual license will become associated with your company, but the company will receive a new contractor’s license number from the Contractors State License Board. And, finally, whether you operate under an individual contractor’s license or a corporate contractor’s license shouldn’t affect your bonding and insurance capacities. However, I have always recommended to my client that they form a corporation or a limited liability company to protect themselves from potential personal liability.
Hi Garret and Khoa,
Just to clarify, if you have a sole owner license and you form a corporation, you’ll have the option of keeping the sole owner license and receiving a new license number for the corporation… or you can transfer the sole owner license number to the corporation.
Regarding bonding and insurance…. license bonds are not transferable. If you go sole to corp you’ll need to purchase a new bond in the corporate name.
Thanks Phil. I was unaware that. I always thought you kept your personal contractor’s license and that a new license number was issued to the company. How do you make that election?
I have been doing research for hours and can’t seem to find any clarity, so I’m hoping you can help. We are soon going to take on an RMO who will own 21% of our company. My questions are:
1. How long after establishing an RMO relationship do we have to apply for our own license? In other words, how long are we able to operate under the RMO license?
2. What is the duration of the RMO relationship? When does it end?
3. We do not have the required 4 years prior experience, so does that mean we need to operate under the RMO until we have the 4 years, or can we apply before that?
Any help will be MUCH appreciated. I can’t find anything published on this issue. Thanks in advance!
1. Having a qualifier associate his/her contractor’s license with your company as an RMO alone is not going to allow your company to perform work which requires a license. You need to submit an Application for Original Contractor License (Exam Waived) to the CSLB to obtain a contractor’s license for your company and list the RMO as your qualifying individual.
2. An RMO will continue to serve as the qualifier for your company until he disassociates his license from your company.
3. The four years of journey-level experience or above requirement applies to the qualifier not the company. Thus, your company does not need to satisfy the experience requirement, but rather, the individual who is serving as the qualifier for your company.
Thank you so much for your prompt response. The information you provided is exactly what I was looking for. One more thing — just to be sure, we will be able to legally operate under the RMO’s license while our application is pending, correct?
You’re very welcome Lindsay. Unfortunately, your company cannot perform work requiring a contractor’s license until the CSLB issues your company a contractor’s license. This is the distinction between company licenses and individual licenses. Your RMO likely has an individual contractor’s license which allows him/her (but not your company) to perform work requiring a contractor’s license. It isn’t until after your company applies for, and the CSLB assigns your company, a company contractor’s license that your company can perform work requiring a license.
I went through the apprenticeship for the ibc carpenters have my journeyman card and have 4 additional years working as a pipe fitter/plumber I have 55 college credits 20 of them in carpentry and building classes. would I qualify for a contractor licence?
Possibly. I say possibly because it’s difficult to know what the CSLB is going to ask for. You can prove your apprenticeship… that’s good. The college credits will give you some time toward the experience requirement.
But if you apply for the B-Gen, the pipe fitting/plumbing experience won’t necessarily count towards the B experience.
The current rule of needing to have experience in framing and at least two unrelated trades is still in place (although there are people working currently to eliminate this underground reg) so you’ll need to show framing experience at the journeyman level as well.
Thanks Phil. I wasn’t able to chime in on this.
hi, i have a question about the work experience for General B contractor. I have once submitted a work experience form where my employer certified of my journeyman experience. Some of my performed trade duties that he listed were: inspect, repair, replace, constract, design and maintain structural demends as assigned within buildings including floors, roofs, walls, ceilings, cabinets, doors, gutters, etc, however, my work experience form got rejected and CSLB said that the reason they didnt accept the form is because the certification must describe in detail the trade duties performed or supervised.
If it is possible please let me know exactly how it should be written and what they are looking for because my employer has never done this before and doesnt know how it needs to be written in order for the form to be acceptable.
I appreciate your attention in advance and hope you can help me. thank you.
Hi Anun. When it comes to acceptable verification of work experience there are certainly varying degrees of subjectivity among CSLB representatives. I suggest putting together a binder with separate tabs for each project which you are submitting as proof of your work experience and behind each tab include a description of the project, the work you performed, and supporting documentation. You may also want to contact the CSLB representative to ask what more specific information you need to include.
HI Anun & Garett. The cslb wants to see the experience outlined like this example:
Residential remodel and repair including; Framing; wood & metal stud, finish carpentry. Concrete; piles & caissons, foundation work, slabs & driveways, stamped concrete, reinforced block/masonry walls, earthwork and grading. Flooring; tile, carpet, hardwood. Electrical; rough-in, finish fixtures, low voltage systems. HVAC installation and repair. Plumbing; underground irrigation systems, rough-in & finish. Drywall; tape & texture. Demolition, construction clean up and abatement.
HI Anun & Garret. The cslb wants to see the experience outlined like this example:
Residential remodel and repair including; Framing; wood & metal stud, finish carpentry. Concrete; piles & caissons, foundation work, slabs & driveways, stamped concrete, reinforced block/masonry walls, earthwork and grading. Flooring; tile, carpet, hardwood. Electrical; rough-in, finish fixtures, low voltage systems. HVAC installation and repair. Plumbing; underground irrigation systems, rough-in & finish. Drywall; tape & texture. Demolition, construction clean up and abatement.
Thanks for the email. I posted on their question. Sorry, I misspelled your first name the first time. 🙂
On Mon, Aug 11, 2014 at 8:41 AM, California Construction Law Blog wrote:
> Garret Murai commented: “Hi Anun. When it comes to acceptable > verification of work experience there are certainly varying degrees of > subjectivity among CSLB representatives. I suggest putting together a > binder with separate tabs for each project which you are submitting as > proof ” >
I’m interested in getting into general contracting but i don’t have experience or education in the field. I’ve been looking into getting a A.S. in carpentry or doing an apprenticeship. I’m not sure which is the better option. Do you have any advice for the best way in obtaining the required experience to get a license to someone that wants to get into this industry?
Vinson, your question is a little out of my area. I suggest contacting the Contractors License Guru. He comments occasionally on my blog, and as his name suggests, he seems to know what he’s talking about when it comes to contractor licensing.
On Thu, Jun 5, 2014 at 2:55 PM, California Construction Law Blog wrote:
> Garret Murai commented: “Vinson, your question is a little out of my > area. I suggest contacting the Contractors License Guru. He comments > occasionally on my blog, and as his name suggests, he seems to know what > he’s talking about when it comes to contractor licensing.” >
There are many ways you can go, but here are the basics.
You will need at least 4 yrs of experience at the journeyman level. Apprenticeships can take 2-3 yrs. The 4 yr clock would start after you’ve finished the apprenticeship program.
College credits can be used to augment some of that 4 yr requirement. A 2 yr degree in carpentry would count for 1-2 yrs credit. Most likely 1 yr if you applied for the B license, and 2 yrs if you applied for the C5 Carpentry license.
The rest of the experience must be gained in the field and in the trade you wish to eventually apply for.
Current CSLB requirements insist that you provide written documentation of your experience. So whatever you do, keep detailed documentation via pay stubs, w-2’s, contracts, invoices, permits, tax returns.
If you have more questions, feel free to contact me directly or reply to Garett’s thread. http://www.ContractorsLicenseGuru.com
Thanks for providing me some more insight on how to approach this. I plan on getting the general contracting B license. Whats the difference in what you can do between the B license and the C5 carpentry license? i’m planning on doing mostly residential work.
With the B license, all contracts must include at least two unrelated trades. i.e. electrical & plumbing or drywall and painting. With the C5 license, you can only contract for C5 work.
Granted, there may be some aspects of the C5 project that are ancillary to the scope of work, and that’s ok. But you couldn’t contract to do framing and landscaping.
I don’t see how the 4-year clock would start AFTER the apprenticeship program, because you are credited 3 years for completing it. If you do a 4-year apprenticeship program (which provides you 3 years of credit), then you would really only need to do 1 more year of work at journeyman level after completion of the program. Yes?
Ace, I apologize for any confusion. Most applicants work in the trades before applying for a license. The cslb would accept 4 yrs of experience as an employee of a licensed contractor. That period would be considered apprenticeship time. After reaching the journeyman level, the applicant is required to have 4 yrs of experience at that level before applying for a license.
Education in lieu of experience is different. Especially if that education is directly related to the classification being applied for. In that case, the applicant could be granted up to 3 yrs credit toward the 4 yr journeyman level requirement.
I guess my confusion is that I am not merely referring to 4 years of work at apprentice level, so much as an official state-approved apprenticeship program (which includes classroom hours), and to my knowledge, counts for 3 years of journeyman level work. That is, a formal apprenticeship program in a trade gives you more credit than a traditional college degree.
Ace, you are correct. Here is the cslb page that explains it.
We are likely doing work in the State of California and our LLC is located in Illinois. We build large aquarium systems including the filtration systems. The filtration systems are never connected directly to a municipal water line. I can’t seem to find a Specialty Contractor Class that fits us. any ideas? Thanks you!
Hi Bryan. It sounds like you have already seen the list of specialty Class C licenses issued by the Contractors State License Board. If not, here is a link. Depending on the work your company does when building aquarium systems you may need to get a Class B general contractors license since, as you’ve discovered, there is no specific Class C specialty license for aquariums. If your company builds aquarium systems from the ground up, which, I’m guessing here, may require framing, plumbing, electrical, etc., you will likely need to get a Class B general contractors license.
Garret and others, would my experience below qualify me to apply for the General Contractor B license?
– I have a masters degree in architecture.
– I have 6 months experience working for General Contractors (during school summers) with scheduling, estimating, on site supervision, etc.
– I have been working in architecture firm for the past 6 years. Several of my project has been build and I’ve done construction administration work (as an architect) on these projects.
– I have been a licensed architect in CA since 2011
I don’t know if my particular experience applies as “Journey man” level… What is your take? Thank you very much!
Hi Yunnan. I can’t give you a definitive answer since the exam waiver for education/experience credit is specific to each applicant. However, since you are architect, you can obtain 3 years of educational credit (for the 4 years of journey-level or above experience requirement), if you can provide transcripts of a four-year degree from an accredited college or university in architecture that is directly related to the classification being applied for. As to experience credit, you will need to show proof of that experience. Late this past year, the Contractor’s State License Board videotaped a seminar on experience verification that you might find helpful. The video is on YouTube (it runs long at 2 hours, 22 minutes) and can found here. Good luck to you.
His degree should give him 3yrs credit, but he’d have to show documented proof of field experience in framing and at least two unrelated trades. “scheduling, estimating, on site supervision” would not be sufficient.
Garret, do you have any info on the legality of a company purchasing a another company and acquiring all of their assets and liabilities and still using the purchased companies contractors license? If the owner of the prior company is now an employee and still working at the new company?
Is the use of the old owners license temporarily legal until a new license is required? need some info on that?
Dave in San Jose (Insurance Broker)
Hi Dave. Sorry for the late reply. If the owner of the prior company was a responsible managing officer (RMO) and he/she will now become an employee, they will need to change their status from a RMO to a responsible managing employee (RME). So long as they are associated with the newly purchased company as a RME their license will continue to be associated with the company. However, if he/she leaves you will need to replace them with another qualifying individual, either a RMO or RME, within 90 days.
Hey Garet, can I add to this?
Dave, you will need to notify the Sect of State’s office of the change in officers first. Once that has been done, you can submit the change of officer form and the Replacing the Qualifying Individual app to the CSLB. You will use the Replacer app even though the qualifier is going from RMO to RME. The license number belongs to the corporation, so officers/qualifiers can come and go. As long as the corporation is in good standing, and the CSLB license renewal fees are paid, the license can continue with the same number.
If the corp is in it’s current Statement of Information (SOI) period, the officer change can be done online with a $25 fee. If the corp has already filed it’s SOI, you can mail an SOI form at no cost. The time to make the change is about 1-2 weeks.
There is no fee for the CSLB change of officer form, and the Replacer app fee is $75.
Garret I purchased a corporation in 2011 i have no B-license but the person I bought the company with has a license. anyway he become the RMO and hold 10% and I’m 90% last December he dissasociated me without letting me know. But knowingly I bought the company from him he was saying that the license belongs to him i this true? The CSLB then took the license for bad behavior was not run by him properly or he didn’t run it correctly…as the new owner would I be able to revive the license?
Hi Douglas. In order to maintain its contractor’s license your corporation must have a qualifier (either an RMO or RME) who has either associated his or her license with your corporate contractor’s license or who satisfied the requirements of serving as an RMO or RME for your corporation. Either way, you need a qualifier, and if your qualifier (the RMO) has disassociated himself from the corporation, the corporation will need to get another individual to serve as a qualifier before it is able to reinstate its license.
Thanks for the help! I wasn’t sure how much credit I needed when getting my license. 2-3 years for a general contractor is perfect, appreciate the help!
You’re welcome. Thanks for reading.
Great article Garret! My father is looking to get a contractor license. He would fall under the “owner builder” category. What do you think would be some ways for us to find someone to approve his work?
Thanks JJ. If your father is trying to satisfy the experience requirements through work he performed as an owner-builder he will need to submit a Project List form which describes the work he performed. Note: He will still need to submit a Certification of Work Experience form but would just not fill out the section entitled Work Experience and Certification Statement.
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For safety measure everyone should always go for licensed especially in electrics or building.
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Thank you both for the quick response. I can attest from my experience so far with the application process that it is complicated AND expensive. The fact that being an LLC as a California contractor is a fairly new possibility at all makes me wonder if there have been many real cases where all this trouble and expense is worth it. Could a strong “professional liability/errors and omissions” policy be just as good?
Without an architects or engineers license I don’t think you could get errors and omissions (“E&O”) insurance which is limited to licensed individuals. Also, the premiums for E&O insurance are also usually higher than for comprehensive general liability insurance.
The stats on LLC license being issued isn’t very good. Go to page 58 of this meeting packet from the CSLB. http://www.cslb.ca.gov/Resources/BoardPackets/CommitteeMeetingPacket20131021.pdf
I understand that a big part of the problem is that the names of the members, managers and officers on the CSLB’s LLC application don’t match the names on file with the California Secretary of State. One problem may be that the place to put this information on the CSLB’s LLC application is entitled “Personnel,” which might cause applicant to believe that they need to list all employees rather than just members, managers and officers of the LLC. The CSLB only began licensing LLC’s in 2012, so hopefully these issues will be ironed out over time, as well as the understanding of the applicants as to what information is required.
I have been a B general in California operating as a sole proprietor since 2006. I am considering becoming an LLC. Does anyone have any thought, experience, pros/cons on this issue? I am not doing huge projects but do specialize in Home Performance so routinely install assemblies that are not conventional and have the possibility to not perform in the field as they do on paper.
Hi Shawn. Forming a corporation or limited liabilty company (“LLC”) is an excellent way to limit the risk of personal liability faced by a sole proprietorship. Up until 2012, the California Contractors State License Board (“CSLB”) did not license LLCs. Although LLCs have been around for some time, because they are a relatively new type of business entity for the CSLB, there are stricter license requirements for LLCs than there are for corporations.
Unlike corporations, which are only required to provide a $12,500 license bond (or alternative in lieu of bond), $12,500 qualifier bond (or alternative in lieu of bond) if the qualifier owns less than 10% of the voting stock of the corporation, and are not required to carry insurance, LLCs are required to provide in addition to a $12,500 license bond (or alternative in lieu of bond) and $12,500 qualifier bond (or alternative in lieu of bond) if the qualifer owns less than 10% of the equity of the LLC: (1) a $100,000 surety bond for the benefit of employees or workers damaged by the LLC’s failure to pay wages, interest on wages, or fringe benefits; and (2) liability insurance with a a cumulative limit of $1 million if the LLC has five or fewer persons listed as members of the LLC, and an additional $100,000 for each additional member of the LLC over five, not to exceed $5 million total. So, at present, it is more expensive for a LLC to obtain a contractor’s license. However, one of the administrative benefits of forming an LLC is that, unlike a corporation, LLCs are not required to hold regular annual shareholder and board of directors meetings.
As there are many scam artists in town, you must check for the reliability of the contractor. You must also do a criminal background check if necessary as it will help you get a clear idea about the company you are dealing with. Check for the insurance of the contractor as reliable and trustworthy contractors will definitely have a license and insurance.
Thanks. For most consumers, I don’t think it’s necessary to do a criminal background check. However, I do think it’s prudent to ask if the contractor carries general commercial liability insurance. In fact, for residential home improvement work, a contractor is required to disclose in its home improvement contract whether or not it carries insurance.
Garret. You may be interested in reading my blog post. http://www.contractorslicenseguru.com/contractors-state-license-board-racially-profiling-asian-applicants/
Thanks. That’s awful. And I’m not just saying that because I’m an Asian guy. Nice site by the way with helpful insider information.
Reblogged this on California Contractors License Guru Blog and commented:
A ton of good, basic info here.
Thank you sir!
I am interested in getting a California general contractor’s license. In addition to a four-year degree in Construction Management, I have significant experience as an owner-builder. How can I be sure that my particular experience as an owner-builder will be acceptable to the CSLB? I do not want to waste the application fee.
Thanks for your question J. L. Smith. When applying for a contractor’s license with the California Contractors State License Board (“CSLB”) an applicant must submit a Certification of Work Experience form setting forth the years and months of journeyman level experience and above and a description of the duties performed by the applicant, which must be verified by qualified and responsible person with first-hand knowledge of your experience such as a homeowner, an employer, fellow employee, other journeymen, contractor, union representative, building inspector, architect, or engineer. The amount of experience the CSLB will recognize as satisfying the four-year journeyman level experience and above requirement is determined on a case-by-case basis, and according to the CSLB can be more difficult when that experience is as an owner-builder. According to the CSLB, “Owner-builder qualifications are difficult to assess. CSLB may consider the work if there is verifiable evidence that it was completed to code. CSLB also considers how long it would have taken a licensed contractor to complete the same project. A new home and remodel could take less than a year to complete. As such, only one (1) year of experience would be credited. However, you would have still needed to complete two (2) to four (4) years of apprentice training prior to your owner-builder experience.”
Thanks for this great write up! It is always nice to know more about something that you are planning to get hold of. Thank you! http://www.passyourstateexam.com/
Another great overview post, Garret. Thanks for preparing these. Piling on to Josh’s comment, I would like to add that one of the most common “unlicensed” mistakes made by contractors is to execute contracts or otherwise do business with a name or entity that differs from the one shown on the license.
A recent example in my experience is an individual who was properly licensed for many years as a sole proprietor. He incorporated his business, retaining the same company name and address but failed to change his license status with the CSLB. Every contract he executed on his new business letterhead was “out of license.” In a relatively small dispute over payment on a residential contract the Owner raised the specter of 7031, and the contractor settled by paying back much of the payment he had received instead of collecting the amount he felt he was still owed.
The moral is that contracts (and other business documents) must be made by precisely the entity named on the CSLB license. These documents should also bear the matching contractor’s license number.
Thanks Dave. You’re absolutely right. In California, licenses can be issued to individuals doing business as sole proprietorships, as well as to corporations, partnerships and LLCs, and if you’re doing business as a corporation, partnership, or LLC, both the business entity and the individual qualifier for the business entity must have their own licenses. For an example of how one unfortunate contractor got dingled (and, really, it was a just a ding compared to how bad it could have been) see What’s in a Name.
I have a C-36 license and a C-61 / D-21 license. Do these satisfy the 2 unrelated trades/skills part of the requirement to become a Class B general contractor in CA?
I would appreciate any clearification.
Hi Geoffrey. I believe the “two unrelated trades” requirement you are referring to is with respect to the work a Class B contractor can perform not the requirements to become a Class B contractor.
Geoffrey, The Gen B license requires you have hands on experience in Rough Framing, Electric, Plumbing, HVAC and concrete.
The cslb requirement is to have experience in framing and at least two unrelated trades. To answer your question, no you could not use the D class as one of the two trades (other than framing).
Spot on. But I’d add that consequence of performing contractor work without a license is business suicide. Under California law, a builder that performs work without a license cannot sue to get paid for work and can be forced to disgorge all payments it recieved for work even if builder fully disclosed that it was unlicensed and even if the work was performed perfectly and owner has zero complaints. And none of the usual wiggle defenses like waiver, estoppel, or quantum meriut (worker should at least get value of work performed even if not contract price) apply. Basically if builder works without license there is very good chance they will end up having worked for free.
Thanks Josh. That’s exactly right. The penalties under Business and Professions Code section 7031 are severe: you’re not going to get paid for the work you performed no matter how good it was, and the clincher, you’re also going to have to cough up any money that was paid to you. Some courts have even called Section 7031 “draconian,” but nonetheless, enforceable. Forewarned is to be forearmed!
Can you perform work if you are waiting to receive your license? Meaning I have an approved application but have not taken the test yet. Seems like a long time to wait until you can do business until you get a license number.
Hi Gabriel. You cannot legally perform work requiring a license (and that exceeds $500 in value) without first obtaining your contractor’s license.