Monthly Archives: June 2023

How Long Does It Take to Get Your License After The CSLB Exam?

Becoming a licensed contractor in California is a significant milestone for any contractor – it means you can take on projects over $500 and allows you to work in your area of specialty, whether that’s Class B general contracting or Class C work like HVAC or electrical. 

Once you’ve taken the Contractors State License Board (CSLB) exam, you’re probably wondering, “How long does it take to get your license after taking the CSLB exam? I want my license now so I can start making some money!”

We got you. In this article, we’ll break down the process and timeline, so you know what to expect and how to speed things up as best you possibly can – so you can get to work as a licensed contractor in California.

The License Issuance Process

Step by Step

After successfully passing the CSLB exam, you’ll get your results immediately, but there are a few steps you need to complete before receiving your contractor’s license. 

Here’s an overview of the process.

  1. Receive Your Exam Results.
    • Typically, you’ll receive your exam results immediately upon completion of the computer-based test immediately.
    • You must score at least a 72% on the exam to pass the CSLB exam.
  2. Submit Required Documents: If you’ve passed the exam, you’ll need to submit any outstanding documents to the CSLB, such as:
  3. License Activation: Once the CSLB receives and processes your documents, they’ll issue your contractor’s license number, activating your license.
    • This means you’re legally allowed to perform work as per your license’s guidelines! Alright!!! You’re a contractor!
  4. License Certificate: You’ll receive a physical license certificate by mail, typically within 1-2 weeks of your license activation.
    • This is just a certificate to prove you’re a contractor. Put it somewhere safe, but don’t worry about losing it – you’re still in the CSLB’s system, so unless your license expires, you’re still licensed.

The Timeline: How Long Does It Take to Get Your License?

From Exam to License

The time it takes to receive your license after taking the CSLB exam largely depends on how quickly you submit the required documents and how promptly the CSLB processes your information.

Generally, the process can take anywhere from 2-6 weeks.

Of course, the quicker you submit the required documents, the sooner you’ll receive your license – any delay on your end can add precious time to getting your license. CSLB processing times can also affect how long it takes to get your license. Certain times of the year or events affecting California can add time to this process. 

Luckily, the CSLB has an easy way to check how long their current processing times are on their website. 

Visit this link to check the current processing times, so you can know how long to expect the process to take for you.

Speeding Up the Process

Proactive Measures

While there’s no magic formula to guarantee a faster license issuance, there are a few things you can do to help speed up the process:

  • Submit Your Documents ASAP: As soon as you pass the CSLB exam, gather and submit all required documents without delay.
  • Ensure Accurate and Complete Documents: Double-check your documents for accuracy and completeness before submitting them to the CSLB. This will help prevent delays due to corrections or missing information.
  • Stay Informed: Keep track of your application status through the CSLB’s online services and promptly address any issues or requests from the Board.


So, how long does it take to get your license after taking the CSLB exam? 

While the exact timeline can vary depending on several factors, expect the process to take anywhere from 2-6 weeks. 

By being proactive, promptly submitting accurate and complete documents, and staying informed, you can help expedite the process and get your hands on that coveted California contractor’s license as soon as possible.

5 Things To Focus On When Hiring A Subcontractor As A Licensed Contractor

Working with a new subcontractor to do a crucial job on your commercial or residential project can test the nerves of even the strongest, most seasoned contractors.

While most contractors have a strong network of co-workers that they can trust, you never know when you’ll need to hire a specialist that’s outside of your network (we once had a client inadvertently demand a load-bearing lattice archway made out of granite!).

Here are 5 things to focus on when hiring subcontractors that you don’t know.

1. Verify Their License

According to a survey by the National Association of State Contractors Licensing Agencies, around 40% of contractor complaints are related to unlicensed activity. 

If you’re in a position where you’re hiring subcontractors to do jobs, you already know how important it is to make sure you’re doing in accordance with CSLB requirements – and California law. Step 1 is verifying your potential sub’s license.

First things first: get your subcontractor’s CSLB license number. Once you have that, you can check your potential sub’s license status with the CSLB using their online license checker. 

Once you’ve verified their contractor’s license, you can begin assessing their capabilities as a contractor.

2. Call Up Those References!

This is a no-brainer, but always request references from former clients and contact them to learn about their experience with the subcontractor. 

In many cases, the subcontractor you’re looking at is a friend of a friend or even maybe a family member of one of your existing employees or subs. While you may be tempted to take their word for it, you must make sure they’re not going to put you in legal and financial trouble by doing something stupid.

The best way to verify a contractor’s quality is by speaking to their former employees. That way you can get an objective viewpoint

3. Check Their Communication Skills

You can usually tell pretty quickly whether someone will be a good subcontractor by how they communicate.

Poor communication can increase project costs by up to 20%, so strong communication skills are absolutely necessary for success on a jobsite.

Especially when it comes to the sometimes-surly world of hiring subs, always check that the subcontractor you’re considering can actually communicate – with you and with others. People who can’t communicate have no place on a construction site, as it can not only harm the project but it also creates the potential for conflict or hazardous work situations.

4. Assess their Capacity and Flexibility

Research shows that 85% of projects exceed their initial timeline, so making sure your potential subcontractor even has the resources and time to commit to your project is critical to keeping things on track.

Determine their availability and willingness to work within your project’s timeline. This is your ship, not theirs. Also make sure they can adapt to potential changes in project scope – this is the construction industry, after all, and things are changing in scope or scale all the time. Any good subcontractor will have no problem adapting.

5. Establish An Onboarding Pipeline

If you’re hiring a subcontractor, you need to have all your stuff in order. You and your team need a robust process for hiring, paying and handling paperwork with regards to any subcontractors you hire.

You’ll also need to acquire Workers’ Compensation insurance and liability insurance as well. Establishing a process with your team to handle the administrative load of making sure all your insurance, licenses, contracts and paperwork are all in order is absolutely critical. Not only will it protect you legally, but it’ll make it quicker and easier to hire more people and grow your business.

Conclusion: Building a Robust Team of Subcontractors

Any general contractor worth their salt knows that any successful construction job hinges on the success of its weakest team member, so hire carefully and hire slowly.

At the very least, always always always make sure that your subcontractors are verified CSLB license holders, and you can protect yourself from the worst consequences of a hiring mishap.

Do I Need A License To Work On My Home In California?

In California, there is a way for property owners to act as their own contractors for construction projects that would otherwise need a contractor’s license – without having to go through the arduous process of obtaining a California State Licensing Board (CSLB) contractor license.

This exemption is called the Owner-Builder Exemption, and according to the CSLB, this exemption allows one to do work on residential construction projects on the owner’s property, provided that they are not intended for sale.

What’s an Owner-Builder?

According to the CSLB, an Owner-Builder is “Any individual or group of individuals who own the property on which they plan to construct, alter, repair, improve, or remodel a building or structure is considered an owner-builder.”

It’s exactly what it sounds like – someone who wishes to build, maintain, amend or otherwise do construction work on a property they themselves own.

The Owner-Builder’s Role

As an owner-builder, you are responsible for everything a regular Class “B” General Contractor would do. That includes managing your construction project, obtaining permits, and ensuring that your project complies with local building codes and regulations. Basically, you have all the same legal and financial responsibilities you would have if you hired a contractor to do the work for you.

Also, if you hire subcontractors or other workers to do jobs you can’t do (like HVAC or plumbing, for example), you will need to both verify their licenses and provide workers’ compensation insurance for every employee. It’s actually a lot of stuff!

Obtaining Permits and Following Regulations

Securing the necessary permits is necessary for Owner-Builders, and it’s up to YOU to understand and comply with your local regulations.

Failure to obtain proper permits, or building in ways that violate local building codes and bylaws can result in serious financial and legal penalties. Do your diligence before starting your work!

Unless you’re a contractor yourself, it makes sense to hire a contractor to do this work for you as building codes and regulations can be extremely difficult to navigate for people not in the industry.

Hiring Subcontractors

If you need to hire subcontractors to get the job done, you absolutely have to check their licenses to ensure that you are not liable for legal damages. 

Also, secure written contracts that outline the scope of work, payment terms, and project timeline. By doing so, you can protect yourself from potential legal disputes and ensure the project’s success.

Workers’ Compensation Insurance

As we said earlier, you have all the same legal requirements as a licensed contractor when working on your home. Amongst these requirements is Workers’ Compensation insurance for any workers.

When hiring workers, owner-builders must provide workers’ compensation insurance to cover any potential injuries or illnesses that may occur on the job site. This insurance is essential to protect both you and your workers in case of accidents or work-related health issues.

Sales Restrictions

While the owner-builder exemption makes it so property owners can handle construction projects without a contractor’s license, it does come with specific restrictions when selling the property, to prevent people from simply obfuscating the strict contractor license requirements.

California law stipulates that properties built under the owner-builder exemption cannot be sold within one year of obtaining the final inspection or certificate of occupancy. So if you’re looking to sell your home within a year, you CANNOT do work on it without a license. You must wait a full year before legally being able to sell.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: What is an owner-builder?

A: An owner-builder is a property owner who opts to manage their residential construction project without hiring a licensed contractor. They are responsible for obtaining permits, following building codes, and providing workers’ compensation insurance.

Q: Do owner-builders need a contractor’s license?

A: It depends. Generally, owner-builders do not need a contractor’s license – but there are limitations. You don’t need a license as an owner-builder if you meet these CSLB-mandated requirements:

  • The owner-builder does the work himself or herself or through his or her own employees with wages as their sole compensation and the structure(s) is/are not intended for sale.
  • The owner-builder contracts with properly licensed subcontractor(s).
  • The owner-builder contracts with a General Building (“B”) contractor. 

Q: Do I need a contractor’s license to work on my home?

A: According to the CSLB, you do NOT need a contractor’s license to perform work on your home, so long as you fulfill the following requirements:

  • The work is performed prior to sale of the home
  • The homeowner resides in the residence for the 12 months prior to completion of the work
  • The homeowner has not taken advantage of this exemption on more than two structures during any three-year period

Q: Can an owner-builder hire subcontractors?

A: Yes, an owner-builder can hire subcontractors, but they must verify the subcontractors’ licenses and establish written contracts outlining the scope of work, payment terms, and project timeline. They must also hold proof or workers’ compensation insurance for every subcontractor.

Q: Is workers’ compensation insurance required for owner-builders?

A: Yes, owner-builders must provide workers’ compensation insurance when hiring workers to cover potential injuries or illnesses that may occur on the job site.

Q: Can I sell a property built under the owner-builder exemption?

A: Yes, you can sell a property built under the owner-builder exemption, but California law requires that you wait at least one year after obtaining the final inspection or certificate of occupancy before selling.


How to File a Complaint Against a Licensed Contractor in California

Whether you’re a homeowner who has experienced the reason why the Contractor’s State Licensing Board (CSLB) exists, or a contractor who has seen some sketchy work from a fellow “contractor”, you’re here because you need to file a complaint against a contractor.

Let’s not waste any time – here’s a comprehensive guide to preparing and executing on a contractor complaint.

The Basics

California has some of the strictest consumer protection laws in the country, and there are dozens of them. It’s important to have at least a basic understanding of these pieces of the law as you consider legal action against a contractor.

  • California Contractors State License Board (CSLB). The CSLB is the state agency that oversees contractor licensing. They specifically handle complaints as well, so this is the supervisory body that will handle the legal and financial repercussions of your complaint.
  • California Business and Professions Code Section 7000: This piece of legislation governs the licensing and regulation of contractors.
  • The Right to Repair Act. This act gives homeowners the right to request repairs and sets forth a process for resolving construction defect disputes. This is not the primary piece of legislation that you’ll use to enact your complaint, but it can be added onto any civil legal action.

It’s important to note – you will become VERY familiar with as you work through the complaint process. The other two pieces of contractor-related legal act are important to know about, but not critical for every situation.

Filing a Complaint: A Step-by-Step Guide

Step 1: Gather Your Evidence

No matter what has transpired, no matter how serious the matter, it’s always important for you to gather as much hard evidence of the malicious or negligent actions of the contractor as possible.

Paperwork is your friend here. In general, when dealing with contracts of any kind, it’s important to always get it in writing. You may trust your associate, and they may be honest in that moment, but things change quickly on a construction site. Make sure you’re protected. 

Here’s some key pieces of evidence to gather:

  • A written contract or other documents outlining the agreed-upon scope of work
  • Invoices, receipts, and other proof of payment
  • Photographs or videos showing the issues with the contractor’s work
  • Any communication with the contractor, such as emails, texts, or voicemails
  • Witness statements or expert evaluations, if applicable
  • Proof (or lack thereof) of a CSLB license
  • Any statements from former employers or clients
  • Any former CSLB complaints on the contractor

Step 2: Check the Contractor’s License

Before filing your complaint, ensure that the contractor is indeed licensed in California.

The first thing you’ll need is the contractor’s license. You may have to ask for your contractor’s number, but many will provide it on their invoices, license, or in some paperwork before you’ve engaged in work. 

Once you have their number you can check their license. You can verify their license status on the CSLB website. 

Be aware that if you ask for their license after a confrontation or serious event has taken place, it is possible that they may disappear. 

In either case, they may be licensed, they may be unlicensed. If a serious issue has taken place – especially in situations where you feel the health and safety of people are at risk – it’s important to report it to the CSLB.

Step 3: File Your Complaint with the CSLB

Once you have all the evidence and the necessary information to file a complaint against a licensed contractor in California, you can easily head to the CSLB website and complete the online complaint form 

You can find the link to the CSLB complaint form here.

Alternatively, you can request a paper form by calling their toll-free number at 1-800-321-CSLB (2752). Fill out the form, attaching any supporting evidence, and submit it to the CSLB.

Step 4: The Investigation Process

Once your complaint has been filed, the CSLB will review the information and determine if further investigation is warranted. In many cases, this is the last you’ll hear of it – the CSLB will usually handle the situation appropriately. 

If they need additional information, an investigator will be assigned to your case, and they may contact you for additional information or to schedule a site visit. Either way, they are trying to build a legal case against this individual or company to protect the public.

Step 6: Possible Outcomes and Next Steps

After the investigation is complete, the CSLB will decide on the appropriate course of action. Possible outcomes include:

  • Informal resolution. The CSLB may mediate a resolution between you and the contractor to make you whole. Basically, they will legally require the contractor to pay you back the damages you received as a result of their work.
  • Disciplinary action. If the contractor is found to be in violation of California law or licensing regulations, they may face disciplinary action such as fines, probation, or even license suspension or revocation. If they’re a repeat offender, they may see jail time.
  • Referral to a different agency. In extreme cases, your complaint may fall outside the CSLB’s jurisdiction. In that scenario, they may refer you to another agency that can better address your concerns. Usually, this would be a situation where it involved crossing state lines or similar Federal situations.

In some cases, the CSLB may determine that there is not enough evidence to take action against the contractor. That’s life – but it doesn’t mean it has to end there. 

The CSLB cannot prosecute every single case, and sometimes the burden of proof is greater than what would net a result in civil court. If you think you’ve got a case, it might be worth it to contact a lawyer and see if it’s worthwhile.

Be Prepared: Tips for a Successful Complaint

To increase the likelihood of a favorable outcome, keep these tips in mind when filing a complaint against a licensed contractor in California. These little things can be the difference between nailing an unscrupulous contractor and them slipping out on technicalities or lack of evidence.

  • Be thorough and accurate. Provide as much detailed information as possible, including dates, locations, and specifics about the issue.
  • Organize your evidence. Ensure your documents, photos, and other evidence are well-organized and easy to understand. Making things easy for the legal teams will make it easier for them to help your case.
  • Stay professional. Keep your communication with the contractor and the CSLB courteous and professional. This contractor may have hurt you or your family personally – but it’s extremely important to stick to the facts and avoid letting emotions dictate your interactions.

Speak Up – It’s Good For All Of Us

There are plenty of people out there who would just love to get away with screwing up your home and potentially costing you thousands of dollars in damages. Plenty of them.

Don’t let you, your family, or your fellow Californians suffer at the hands of these sketchy clowns who parade themselves as trustworthy contractors who have put in the hours and spent thousands of dollars to be certified by the CSLB.

Letting unscrupulous or unlicensed contractors do shoddy work reflects poorly on all contractors in California. If you see someone doing something wrong, and you know it – contact the CSLB to make it right.

What to Expect and How to Prepare for a Background Check as Part of the CSLB Licensing Process

Getting a Contractor’s State License Board (CSLB) license is an important step for any construction professional. However, before you can get licensed, you need to undergo a background check. This process can seem intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. In this guide, we’ll take a look at what you can expect and how you can prepare for a background check as part of the CSLB licensing process.

What to Expect

When you apply for a CSLB license, you will need to provide personal information, such as your name, address, and Social Security number. The CSLB will use this information to conduct a criminal background check. Here’s what you can expect during the process:

1. Fingerprinting

As part of the background check, you will need to get fingerprinted. The CSLB will send you a fingerprint kit after you submit your application. You can either take the kit to a law enforcement agency or use a live scan service provider to get your fingerprints taken. The live scan service provider will electronically transmit your fingerprints to the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) for processing.

The Live Scan Process

If you choose to use a live scan service provider, you will need to schedule an appointment with them. When you arrive at the provider, you will need to provide your valid form of identification and pay the live scan processing fee. The provider will then take your fingerprints using a digital scanner, which will capture an electronic image of your fingerprints. The image will be electronically transmitted to the DOJ and FBI for processing.

The DOJ and FBI will process your fingerprints and provide a response to the CSLB. The processing time for fingerprints can vary, but typically takes between two and three weeks. If you have a criminal history, the processing time may take longer.

2. Criminal History Review

The CSLB will review your criminal history to determine if you have any convictions that could affect your ability to get licensed. They will look at both misdemeanor and felony convictions, as well as any pending cases.

3. Personal and Professional References 

As part of the background check, the CSLB will also contact your personal and professional references. They will ask about your character, work history, and any criminal convictions you may have.

How to Prepare 

To ensure a smooth background check process, you should be prepared to provide the following documents:

 1. Identification 

You will need to provide a valid form of identification, such as a driver’s license or passport when you get fingerprinted. This is only to confirm your identity – they won’t be taking either for any amount of time.

 2. Court Documents 

If you have any criminal convictions, you should gather all court documents related to those convictions. This includes sentencing documents and proof of completion of any court-ordered programs. Any information you can provide that shows that you are following court guidelines will help your case.

3. Professional and Personal References

Pick a few people that you know you can trust from both your professional and personal worlds. Ask them ahead of time if they can be contacted as part of your background check, and make sure you have their contact information if they agree. These references can go a long way, so choose people you think would paint a good picture of your character.

 4. Business Documents 

If you own a business, you will need to provide documents related to your business, such as your business license and articles of incorporation. An organized person has organized paperwork and is always ready to show receipts. It’s always better to be prepared with the necessary documents, rather than having to hunt something down when it’s requested.

 5. Application Fees 

There are fees associated with the background check process. You will need to pay the fingerprint processing fee and the application fee when you submit your application. What those fees are varies depending on the status of your application, but generally hovers around $50 at the time of writing.


Getting a CSLB license is the biggest step for anyone in the construction industry. While the background check process may seem daunting, it’s a necessary step to ensure the safety of the public. 

The live scan process for fingerprinting is a quick and easy way to get your fingerprints taken and processed electronically. By being prepared and providing all the necessary documents and fees, you can help ensure a smooth and successful background check. Good luck to you as you jump through the (necessary) hoops to getting your license!