Monthly Archives: July 2023

How to Easily Check if a Contractor is Licensed and Insured in California

Whether you’re a homeowner looking to hire a contractor or a contractor looking to hire a subcontractor – or just someone who saw a contractor doing something shady – it’s important to know how to verify a contractor’s license.

The CSLB has an easy and painless way to look up a contractor’s license so you can protect your house, your team, your business and yourself from the havoc that unlicensed contractors can wreak. 

Why Hiring a Licensed and Insured Contractor is Important

Before we dive into the steps, let’s first discuss why it’s so important to hire a licensed and insured contractor.

  • Licensing: A contractor’s license ensures that they have the necessary knowledge and training to perform the work you need. That way you can rest easy knowing that they won’t rip you off and do shoddy work. Oh yeah, and that the work they perform won’t seriously endanger you or anyone else.
  • Insurance: Hiring an insured contractor protects you from any damage or accidents that may occur on the job. 

Now that we understand the importance of working with a licensed and insured contractor, let’s get into the steps to check their credentials.

Get The Contractor’s Contractor License Number

In order to do anything with regards to checking someone’s CSLB license, you first need the license number.

You can usually find a contractor’s license number on their website – if they’re reputable, you can expect this. If they don’t have a website, ask them directly for their license or their license number. 

If they can’t or won’t provide a license number, that’s an immediate cancellation on your end. You simply cannot do business with someone who can’t provide a CSLB license number.

Check the Contractor’s License

The first step in verifying a contractor’s credentials is to check their license via the CSLB’s lookup tool.

In California, you can do this through the Contractors State License Board (CSLB). Here’s how:

  1. Go to the CSLB License Check Page (
  2. Enter the contractor’s license number or their name and other identifying information
  3. Verify that their license is active and in good standing

It’s important to note that different types of contractors may require different licenses. It’s important to make sure they’re performing the type of work they’re signed on to do. 

There’s precedent for unscrupulous contractors to take advantage of employers and clients by operating under another license for a separate type of work.

Check the Contractor’s Insurance

In addition to checking the contractor’s license, you should also verify that they have insurance. Ask for proof of insurance and follow up directly with their insurance company to confirm coverage. There have been cases of fraudulent insurance coverage in the construction industry.

If you’re a contractor yourself, you already know this, but there are two main types of insurance that contractors need to have to legally operate in California:

  1. General Liability Insurance: This protects you from any damages or injuries that may occur as a result of the contractor’s work.
  2. Workers’ Compensation Insurance: This covers any injuries or illnesses that the contractor’s employees may sustain while on the job.

It’s important to verify that the contractor has both types of insurance and that their coverage is up to date. These are essential things that every contractor must have, regardless of their classification, the business’ size, the type of project or the type of work they’re doing. 

Every contractor must have these two types of insurance. If they don’t, they need to be reported to the CSLB.


By following these simple steps, you can easily check if a contractor is licensed and insured in California. This will give you peace of mind and protect you from potential scams and legal issues. Remember to always verify the contractor’s license and insurance, as well as check for any complaints or disciplinary actions.

Can I Use My Arizona Contractors License in California?

Given California’s close proximity to Arizona, and its constant construction growth of ~17% every year, it’s a tantalizing prospect for Arizona contractors to grow their business and expand operations into California.

But can you work as a contractor in California if you only have an Arizona contractors license? And if so, what do you have to do to get there?

Let’s find out!

Contractor Licenses and Reciprocity Agreements

As you know, contractor licenses are legal permits that allow individuals or companies to undertake construction-related projects within the regulations and rules of the issuing state.

These licenses ensure that contractors adhere to professional standards and regulations with the ultimate goal of protecting consumers from unscrupulous contractors.

In the United States, each state has its distinct regulatory authority for contractor licensing. The two agencies that handle contractors licenses in these states are the Arizona Registrar of Contractors and California’s Contractors State License Board (CSLB).

The Reciprocity Agreement: Arizona and California

Here’s the good news: as an Arizona contractor, you can easily and quickly begin working as a contractor in California through a process known as a Reciprocity Agreement.

This agreement enables a seamless transition for licensed contractors from Arizona to work in California, albeit with certain conditions.

Per the CSLB, here’s the reciprocity requirements for Arizona contractors:

  1. The contractor must be applying for a license in a classification that appears on California’s Reciprocal Classifications List.
  2. The contractor must have held an active license in good standing in Arizona for the previous five years.
  3. The contractor must submit to CSLB the Request for Verification of License form completed by the Arizona Registrar of Contractors.
  4. The contractor must complete the Application for an Original Contractor’s License in California​​.

These requirements ensure that Arizona contractors have a proven track record of professionalism and competence before they can operate in California.

Exploring the Steps to Obtain a California Contractors License

Now that you know what and why, here’s how you can quickly and easily get your California contractors license as an Arizona contractor.

  1. Verify You Can Transfer Your License Classification: Ensure your Arizona license classification matches one on California’s Reciprocal Classifications List.
  2. Gather Evidence of Good Standing: You should have held an active license in good standing in Arizona for the last five years. Be prepared to provide documentation.
  3. Submit Verification Form: Complete the ‘Request for Verification of License’ form, which must be validated by the Arizona Registrar of Contractors, and submit it to the CSLB.
  4. Apply for a California License: Complete and submit the ‘Application for Original Contractor’s License’ to the CSLB.

Remember, the goal is to ensure a high standard of professional competency among contractors operating in California. Therefore, these steps are designed to validate your credentials and professional standing.\


While the process of using an Arizona contractor’s license in California involves jumping through some bureaucratic hoops, it’s entirely possible and manageable. The important thing is to ask if it’s worth it to expand into new territory. 

While California is certainly ripe with opportunities for contractors, it’s also extremely competitive. You may consider staying in Arizona if you have a strong presence in the local community, rather than upping sticks to carve out an entirely new niche – a process that could take years.

With proper planning and understanding of the requirements, Arizona contractors can expand their services to California, providing an opportunity to grow their business and reach new clients.

Water Conservation Laws for California Contractors

As climate change looms large over California, state authorities have rapidly expanded and evolved water conservation initiatives across the state – all of which affect contractors in particular.

For contractor license holders, these evolving regulations not only present challenges to how you operate, but they are also a rich source of opportunity to leverage sustainability into success. 

Let’s explore how licensed contractors can utilize California’s water conservation strategies to not only comply with regulations but also gain a competitive edge.

The Current Picture of California’s Water Conservation Laws

The cornerstone of the state’s water conservation efforts lies in the efficiency regulations formulated by the California Department of Water Resources (DWR). 

Contractors need to be particularly mindful of these regulations as they impact both indoor and outdoor water use, which you will surely know is pivotal part of any construction job.

When it comes to legislation, Senate Bill 1157 is one of the main pieces you need to worry about. SB 1157 sets indoor water use targets to 47 gallons per day by 2025 and 42 gallons by 2030. This law mandates contractors to ensure that their projects – residential or commercial – comply with these targets​, or face criminal penalties

Compliance with Outdoor Water Use Recommendations

The DWR has also submitted outdoor water use efficiency recommendations to the State Water Resources Control Board. 

These recommendations are especially important for contractors involved in landscaping and outdoor projects. The guidelines include standards for more efficient outdoor residential water use and the irrigation of large commercial, industrial, and institutional landscapes. 

While it’s important to note that these are currently recommendations, not requirements, we recommend basically treating them as hard-and-fast rules. Why? Well, many past DWR recommendations have become regulations in the future – so by acting now to limit your outdoor water usage on your job sites, you can gain a massive advantage over your lazy competitors.

And it’s pretty smart, too, because these recommendations can help preserve land for the future – which means more projects for all construction professionals!

Turf Transition and Conservation

Contractors need to be aware of the financial regulations associated with turf transition and water conservation. 

As of 2023, the DWR has developed funding programs that can provide financial assistance for projects that enhance resilience in urban communities, turf transition for residential and commercial landscapes, and water conservation programs for urban water suppliers​​.

Learn more about these funding problems on the DWR’s website.

Another key regulation contractors should be mindful of is Assembly Bill 2142. This bill provides a state income tax exemption for any grant, rebate, or additional financial assistance awarded for turf transition through 2027. This can be a significant incentive for clients considering water-efficient landscaping projects​​ – which means you can take advantage of this windfall.

Staying Updated

As a contractor license holder, it’s your responsibility to stay informed about the latest codes, regulations and recommendations – but more than that, it’s not just your responsibility, it’s an opportunity to make more money. 

Specific compliance requirements may vary based on the type of project you’re undertaking, but following these regulations is essential for ensuring your projects align with state standards (and that you avoid any penalties!), while also allowing you to “see into the future” of your industry

For the most accurate and up-to-date information regarding penalties for non-compliance or any changes in water conservation regulations, it’s recommended to directly contact the California Department of Water Resources​.

California is changing rapidly – and you should be, too! 

Climate change is going to change everything in the state, so arm yourself with knowledge and put that knowledge to work to gain an advantage over other contractors. If you don’t adapt, you’ll get left behind.

How Long Is Contractor School in California?

If you’re interested in pursuing a career in the construction industry, you may be wondering how long it takes to complete a contractor school program in California. You’ve come to the right place!

In this article, we’ll explore the different types of contractor schools, the length of their programs, and other factors that may affect the length of the program.

Different Types of Contractor Schools

There are three main types of schools that offer contractor training programs: trade schools, community colleges, and contractor licensing schools. Each of these schools offers different advantages and disadvantages depending on your personal goals and needs.

Trade schools are generally focused on hands-on training and offer shorter programs that can be completed in less than a year. Trade schools are typically aimed at developing the hard skills of construction, and usually involve specialized training in CSLB Class C classifications like welding, roofing, or plumbing, for example.

Community colleges offer both hands-on and classroom training and have longer programs that can take up to two years to complete. These programs are often a blend of both classroom and hands-on experience, and tend to be more in depth. Community college programs are great for learning the hard science behind construction, and can yield long-term rewards with the knowledge they can arm you with.

Contractors licensing schools offer more specialized training aimed at helping people with some construction experience become licensed contractors in California. These programs are short and accessible, usually taking only 1-3 months to complete, so you can get your license as quickly as possible and get to work.

Length of Contractor School Programs

The length of the program varies depending on the type of school and the program you choose. 

Trade schools generally offer programs that can be completed in 6 months to 1 year, depending on your area of expertise or focus

Community colleges offer programs that can take up to two years to complete. This also depends on what area of construction you want to focus on.

Contractors licensing schools usually take only a few months to complete, depending on the program.

Factors That Affect the Length of the Program

Several factors can affect the length of the program, including the type of program, course load, full-time vs part-time enrollment, and online vs in-person courses. 

Some programs may require more courses or have more rigorous course loads, which can affect how long it takes to complete the program. If you’re studying mathematics-focused fields like engineering, or dealing with hazardous materials like asbestos, classes could take longer than, say, a general contractor license course.

Enrolling full-time can also help you complete the program more quickly than enrolling part-time. 

Taking online courses can offer more flexibility but may take longer to complete than full-time courses. Contractors license schools often offer both for students who have unique needs.

Finally, whether or not you speak English can have a big impact on how long your class could take. Many schools only offer classes in English, or allow you to use a translator. However, schools like CSLS offer Spanish-language courses, opening the field to Spanish speakers to complete contractors license schools and pass the CSLB exam.

In reality, you should figure out what type of program works for your area of interest, and what type of commitment you want to make to your school. The important thing is there’s many different ways to get involved in your education, whether you want to get it done quickly or you want to slowly balance your life with your education needs.

How to Choose the Right Program

When choosing a contractor school program, it’s important to consider your personal goals, budget, and the quality of the school to make the right choice.

Your goals. Consider what you want to achieve after completing the program and make sure the school offers the courses and training you need to meet those goals. If you want to be a plumber, make sure the school has a robust program related to plumbing, for example. It may seem obvious, but not all construction knowledge and education is equal. 

Don’t get fooled by the school. It’s also extremely important to make sure you’re getting an education from a trustworthy school. There’s a number of schools out there that offer incomplete or insufficient information, or are just flat out scams that will take your money and run. 

Always, always, always make sure the school is backed by legitimate experience in the area of expertise that you are seeking education in. 

The most trustworthy organizations will have at least 10+ years of experience providing exams and usually are backed by reviews and testimonials from those who have been through the program and successfully gotten their licenses.

How to Accelerate the Process

There are several ways to accelerate the process of completing a contractor school program. Some schools offer credit for prior experience, which can allow you to skip certain courses or requirements. 

Additionally, some schools offer advanced placement, which allows you to start at a higher level in the program if you have prior experience. Some schools also offer summer programs that allow you to complete the program more quickly, rather than waiting for the traditional spring-fall semesters.

Typically, the longer the course is, the more educational requirements you may be exempt from. Community college courses may even allow you to skip certain requirements. Find out more about the education requirements here:

In conclusion, the length of your contractor school program in California can vary depending on a variety of factors, including program type, schedule, required courses, exam preparation, and work experience. Be careful when deciding which school is right for you. Untrustworthy or incompetent schools can take away precious time, energy and money as you seek your CSLB contractor license. 

Take your time when picking your school – find a school that fits your schedule, meets your educational needs and has a reputation for successfully training CSLB-certified contractors. If you spend the time now identifying the right school for you, you can save yourself a ton of money and energy down the road.


2023 Construction Industry Trends for General Contractors

2022 presented some early road bumps for those in the construction industry, and as we venture into 2023, staying updated with the latest trends, challenges, and opportunities is crucial.

What’s going to happen in 2023 for general contractors? How is inflation affecting construction? Is the economy affecting construction starts?

In this article, we’ll look at a recent forecast from Dodge Data & Analytics 2023 Dodge Construction Outlook and outline where general contractors can find success even in tough times.

How Does 2023 Look For The Construction Industry?

Before we get into the nitty-gritty, let’s look at how things, in general, are looking for the California construction industry in 2023. Here’s the general outlook for specific industries you may be working in as a California general contractor.


Lower demand for brick-and-mortar retail stores and office construction, reduced hotel construction, and overbuilt warehouse construction is expected to cause a decline in commercial building construction by 3% to 921 million square feet in 2023 – with a value of $153 billion. However, data centers remain a bright spot as computing power needs increase.


The affordability of single-family homes has worsened due to rising interest rates and low inventory. 

Construction of single-family residences is expected to decrease by 6% to 891,000 units in 2023 with a value of $274 billion. 

Multifamily construction had a good year in 2022, but is expected to decrease by 9% to 723,000 units in 2023 with a value of $153 billion.


Infrastructure construction is obviously expected to grow, as states and municipalities start to receive increased funding from the Infrastructure Bill. 

Dodge Analytics forecasts a whopping 16% increase in infrastructure spending to $281 billion in 2023.

The Good News: Falling Material Prices

The good news – material prices fell in 2022, after peaking in 2021. If you were working as a contractor in California during 2021, you know how expensive construction materials were, due largely to the giant supply chain issues across the world. Luckily we’re getting some breathing room now.

Though prices aren’t exactly cheap, they are becoming more affordable overall, which is great news for us. Especially considering the bad news.

The Bad News: Fewer Project Starts in 2023

Now, the bad news: the construction industry is anticipated to stop growing in 2023. As you know, construction is expensive, and thanks to inflation and the looming possibility of recession, financing is going to be hard to come by this year.

According to the Dodge Data & Analytics’ 2023 Dodge Construction Outlook, project starts for 2023 are expected to level off to flat. In 2022, project starts were growing at a whopping 17%!

While this flattening of growth might initially seem concerning, it’s important for general contractors to view this as a natural progression towards a more sustainable pace. Projects will still be going up for bid, but they just will not be increasing in amount as we experienced in the last 15 years.

Emerging Trends and Opportunities for General Contractors in the 2023 Construction Industry

Despite the headwinds that face the construction industry in 2023, there are some ways to use this time to get ahead of the competition. Larger competitors in particular are vulnerable during periods of high interest rates, so you can take advantage by being agile.

Here are some trending opportunities to take advantage of in 2023.

  • Green and sustainable construction. 
    • As clients demand eco-friendly construction practices, general contractors prioritizing sustainable materials, energy-efficient systems, and waste reduction can distinguish themselves and cater to these demands.
  • Modular and offsite construction:
    • To tackle labor shortages, reduce waste, and improve efficiency, general contractors can adopt modular and offsite construction techniques. Prefabricated components and panelized construction methods bring significant benefits in terms of cost savings, project timelines, and quality control.
  • Construction technology
    • By adopting cutting-edge technologies such as building information modeling (BIM), 3D printing, drones, and virtual reality, general contractors can streamline their operations, offer innovative solutions to clients, and gain a competitive advantage.
  • Resilient construction
    • As climate change and natural disasters drive the need for resilient construction techniques, general contractors specializing in designing and building structures that can withstand environmental stressors can benefit from increased demand.
  • Skilled labor shortage
    • General contractors that invest in employee training and development programs will be better positioned to retain top talent and maintain productivity. Additionally, embracing innovative solutions such as automation and construction technology can address labor shortages and enhance competitiveness.
  • Urbanization and mixed-use development
    • General contractors specializing in efficient, mixed-use developments that blend residential, commercial, and public spaces can capitalize on the growing demand for integrated urban projects.
  • Public-private partnerships (PPPs)
    • General contractors that understand the intricacies of PPPs and can effectively navigate the complexities of these partnerships are well-positioned to secure lucrative contracts and expand their project portfolios.

Tips For General Contractors To Stay Ahead in 2023

To thrive in the evolving 2023 construction market, general contractors must be adaptable and willing to embrace change. 

By focusing on the following strategies, general contractors can maximize their potential for success in this dynamic industry.

    • Embrace innovation
      • Seek out innovative technologies and construction techniques to stay ahead of the curve and stand out among competitors. By integrating advanced tools, such as BIM, 3D printing, and drones, general contractors can streamline their processes and provide superior solutions to clients.
    • Focus on sustainability
      • Prioritizing sustainability in every aspect of a construction project, from the choice of materials to waste management practices, can help general contractors meet growing client demands and demonstrate a commitment to environmental responsibility.
  • Invest in development
    • By investing in ongoing training and development opportunities for yourself (and employees!) general contractors can build a skilled workforce capable of handling the industry’s challenges and capitalizing on emerging trends.
  • Diversify project portfolios
    • Expanding project portfolios to include a mix of residential, commercial, and infrastructure projects can provide general contractors with a stable revenue stream and insulate them from fluctuations in any one sector.
  • Cultivate strong relationships
    • Focusing your energy on building and maintaining strong relationships with clients, suppliers, and other stakeholders can lead to repeat business, referrals, and a solid reputation in the industry. Prioritizing communication and collaboration helps foster these relationships and promotes a positive business environment.

There are certainly some things lying in wait for general contractors in California in 2023 – both good and bad. There’s nothing to be afraid of – construction will always survive even the worst economic conditions – but being proactive and taking advantage of the available opportunities is key to staying on top.

The Most Common California Contractors License Violations and How to Steer Clear

In the bustling construction industry of California, maintaining a valid contractor’s license is essential for success. Not only are licensed contractors seen as more legitimate by clients, but it’s also illegal to do construction work over $500 in California without a valid Contractors State License Board (CSLB) contractor license.

However, navigating the sometimes-confusing rules and regulations set forth by the CSLB can be a daunting task. To keep your business on the straight and narrow – and bringing in money –  it’s vital to be aware of the most common California contractors license violations and how to avoid them. 

In this article, we’ll shine a light on these common pitfalls and provide you with the knowledge to dodge them like a pro. So, let’s get started!

Violation #1: Working Without a License

Avoiding the Unlicensed Trap

As we stated earlier, you CANNOT perform work in California on jobs over $500 without holding a valid California contractor license specific to your area of work. 

One of the most common California Contractors License Violations is working without a valid license. That includes if you’re a license holder whose license has expired, or if you’re a seasoned construction worker working under another person who may have a license.

The remedies to this situation are fairly obvious. Make sure you have a license. Here’s how:

  • Obtain a contractor’s license from the CSLB before starting any construction work exceeding $500 in labor and materials.
  • Renew your license promptly and maintain an active licensing bond at all times
  • Keep your license information up-to-date, reporting any changes to the CSLB ASAP

Violation #2: Misleading Advertising

Honesty Is the Best Policy

Inaccurate or misleading advertising can land you in hot water with the CSLB. Never advertise anything that you can’t do, and never advertise your services for jobs that are outside of your classification (such as, bidding for plumbing jobs as a roofing contractor).

What’s misleading can be open to interpretation, but in general, keep things obvious and direct about who you are, what jobs you can do and what customers can expect you to deliver. At the end of the day, play it safe.

Remember to:

  • Accurately represent your company, services, and experience. Do not oversell your credentials.
  • Display your contractor’s license number on all advertisements, including websites, business cards, and promotional materials.
  • Avoid making false claims or guarantees that you cannot fulfill.

Violation #3: Unlawful Contracts

Crafting Compliant Contracts

An improperly drafted contract can result in violations and potential legal issues. It’s prudent to have a business or construction lawyer look over EVERY contract you send out to a potential customer, to avoid any issues down the road. 

To ensure your contracts are up to snuff, follow these guidelines.

  • Include your contractor’s license number, business name, and address on all contracts.
  • Clearly outline the project scope, timeline, and payment terms.
  • Obtain all necessary permits and approvals before commencing work.
  • Provide a written “Notice to Owner” document, explaining the owner’s rights and responsibilities under California law.

Violation #4: Inadequate Workers’ Compensation Insurance

Protecting Your Team

Workers Compensation insurance is now a CSLB requirement as of 2023. Failing to provide adequate workers’ compensation insurance is a serious violation and will result in you having your license pulled.

You MUST have workers’ comp insurance for EVERY employee you have, even day laborers and you must provide documentation to the CSLB about your workers’ comp insurance.

To keep your team protected and avoid penalties, be sure to:

  • Obtain workers’ compensation insurance for all employees, even part-time or temporary workers.
  • Maintain coverage at all times and notify the CSLB of any changes in coverage.
  • Provide proof of insurance to the CSLB when renewing your contractor’s license.

Violation #5: Unapproved Job Site Supervision

Keeping an Eye on Your Projects

Overseeing your projects is a crucial aspect of contractor responsibilities. As a contractor, you are responsible for your work sites. Even if you have someone else stepping in for you as a foreman or as a manager, you are still responsible for workplace safety and supervision.

To avoid violations related to job site supervision, always:

  • Assign a qualifying individual or responsible managing employee to supervise all projects. This means someone who is also a CSLB certified contractor.
  • Ensure the supervisor is on-site regularly and is familiar with the project’s progress, materials, and personnel.
  • Maintain open communication with your clients and address any concerns promptly.

Violation #6: Improper Classification

Stay In Your Lane

Performing work outside of your CSLB contractor’s license classification is a quick way to having your license suspended – and facing criminal consequences.

There’s only one bullet point here, and it’s fairly obvious:

ONLY perform work that falls under your classificaiton. If you are a plumber, you CANNOT perform electrical work. If you are a general contractor with a Class B license, you need to hire roofers, HVAC techs and so on. You cannot perform this work yourself, even if you know how to do it.


By being aware of the most common California Contractors License Violations and taking proactive steps to avoid them, you can ensure your business remains compliant with state regulations and thrives in the Golden State’s competitive construction industry. 

Navigating the complex world of contracting can be challenging, but with a solid understanding of the potential pitfalls and the know-how to dodge them, you’ll be well on your way to a successful and profitable construction business in California. So, stay informed, be vigilant, and let your dedication to excellence speak for itself. Good luck, and happy building!

Complete Guide To California Contractors License Bonds

If you’re a contractor in California – or looking to get your license – you know you need to have a License Bond to get your California contractor’s license. In the CSLB’s own words: 

“A Contractor’s Bond must be in place before CSLB can issue an active license, reactivate an inactive license, or renew an active license. (Business and Professions Code Section 7071.6).”

As a general contractor or a specialized contractor in California, it’s critically important to understand the ins and outs of the California Contractors License Bond. 

This article will take an in-depth look at California contractor license bonds. We’ll cover everything you need to know about how to get your bond and start working as a contractor today.

What’s the Purpose of the California Contractors License Bond?

A Safety Net for Consumers

The California Contractors License Bond exists primarily to protect consumers from any financial loss resulting from a contractor’s failure to meet their contractual obligations. 

Basically, a Contractor’s License Bond exists to make sure that consumers are protected by sketchy or unscrupulous contractors who perform poor work or don’t perform the work agreed upon in the contract. In the case of a project that doesn’t meet expectations, the client who hired the contractor will at least be protected financially by this bond.

At the end of the day, the licensing bond serves as a safety net, ensuring that contractors will adhere to the rules and regulations set forth by the Contractors State License Board (CSLB) – which is critical to maintaining trust between contractors and clients.

Who Needs to Obtain a California Contractors License Bond?

The Licensing Requirement

If you’re looking to perform construction work in California that exceeds $500 in labor and materials, you’ll need to secure a California Contractors License Bond. 

In other words, if you’re looking to do any sort of construction work beyond simple handyman jobs, you’ll need a valid CSLB contractor’s license. And in order to get a contractor’s license, you’ll need to provide a surety bond.

This requirement applies to any sort of construction work. If you’re a plumber, you need a licensing bond. If you’re a solar installer, you need a licensing bond. If you’re a general contractor, heck, if you’re an engineer with a Class A license, you need a licensing bond.

How Much Coverage Do I Need? 

Changes To The Required Bond Amount

Heads up! As of January 1, 2023, bond amount requirements have increased. In the past, contractors were required to provide contractor license bonds in the amount of $15,000. That has changed!

As of 2023, you now need to provide a bond in the amount of $25,000 to the CSLB to get your contractor’s license. 

How Much Does the California Contractors License Bond Cost?

Crunching the Numbers

The bond amount required by the CSLB is currently set at $25,000. However, contractors don’t pay the full bond amount upfront. 

Instead, they pay a premium, which is typically a percentage of the bond amount. The premium rate varies depending on the contractor’s credit score and other factors, such as:

  • Financial standing
  • Industry experience
  • Claims history
  • Disciplinary record

Contractors with good credit can expect to pay a premium of 1-3% of the bond amount, while those with less-than-stellar credit might pay a premium of 5-15%.

In general, you can get a contractor’s bond in California from roughly $100-$500.

How Do I Obtain a California Contractors License Bond?

Securing the Bond

To obtain a California Contractors License Bond, follow these steps:

  1. Contact a surety bond company or insurance agency authorized to issue contractor license bonds in California.
  2. Complete the bond application, providing your business information, license number, and other required details.
  3. Undergo a credit check and other underwriting procedures to determine your premium rate.
  4. Pay the required premium and receive your bond.

Once you’ve secured the bond, submit a copy of it to the CSLB to complete your licensing process.

Where Can I Find A CSLB-approved Contractor Bond Provider?

Get Your Bond From A CSLB-verified Contractor

Finding a reputable company to supply your contractor’s license bond isn’t difficult – there are dozens of insurance and bonding companies in California that offer low-cost bond packages for contractors.


However, all bond providers MUST be approved by the CSLB, so make sure you are buying a contractor’s bond from a CSLB-approved provider. 

As of February 2023, here is the full list of approved surety companies. 


  • Allegheny Casualty Company
  • American Alternative Insurance Corporation
  • American Casualty Company of Reading Pennsylvania
  • American Contractors Indemnity Company
  • American States Insurance Company
  • Arch Insurance Company
  • Argonaut Insurance Company
  • Aspen American Insurance Company
  • Atlantic Specialty Insurance
  • Berkley Insurance Company
  • Berkley Regional Insurance Company
  • Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance Company
  • Bond Safeguard Insurance Company
  • Business Alliance Insurance Company
  • Capitol Indemnity Corporation
  • Cincinnati Insurance Company (The)
  • Colonial Surety Company (only the contractor bond endorsement)
  • Continental Casualty Company
  • Continental Insurance Company (The)
  • Contractors Bonding and Insurance Company
  • Employers Mutual Casualty Company
  • Endurance Assurance Corporation
  • Everest Reinsurance Company
  • Federal Insurance Company
  • Fidelity and Deposit Company of Maryland
  • Financial Pacific Insurance Company
  • First National Insurance Company of America
  • Granite Re, Inc dba Granite Surety Insurance Company
  • Gray Casualty & Surety Company (The)
  • Gray Insurance Company (The)
  • Great American Insurance Company
  • Great Midwest Insurance Company
  • Hanover Insurance Company (The)
  • Harco National Insurance Company
  • Hartford Fire Insurance Company
  • Hartford Insurance Company of the Midwest
  • Hudson Insurance Company
  • Jet Insurance Company
  • Lexon Insurance Company
  • Liberty Mutual Insurance Company
  • Markel Insurance Company
  • Merchants Bonding Company (Mutual)
  • National Fire Insurance Company of Hartford
  • Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company
  • Navigators Insurance Company
  • Old Republic General Insurance Corporation
  • Old Republic Surety Company
  • Pacific Indemnity Company
  • Philadelphia Indemnity Insurance Company
  • Platte River Insurance Company
  • RLI Insurance Company
  • Safeco Insurance Company of America
  • State Farm Fire and Casualty Company
  • St Paul Fire and Marine Insurance Company
  • SureTec Insurance Company
  • Swiss Re Corporate Solutions America
  • Swiss Re Corporate Solutions Premier
  • The Guarantee Company of North America USA
  • The North River Insurance Company
  • The Ohio Casualty Insurance Company
  • Travelers Casualty and Surety Company
  • Travelers Casualty and Surety Company of America
  • Trisura Insurance Company
  • United Fire & Casualty Company
  • United States Fire Insurance Company
  • United Surety Insurance Company
  • Universal Surety of America
  • U S Specialty Insurance Company
  • Vigilant Insurance Company
  • Wesco Insurance Company
  • Westchester Fire Insurance Company
  • Western National Mutual Insurance Company
  • Western Surety Company
  • XL Specialty Insurance Company
  • Zurich American Insurance Company

You can find more information on the CSLB’s bond page here.

Can I Get a California Contractors License Bond with Bad Credit?

Don’t Give Up Hope

While it’s true that having bad credit can make obtaining a California Contractors License Bond more challenging, it’s not impossible. Many surety bond companies offer bonds for applicants with less-than-perfect credit. However, expect to pay a higher premium rate if your credit history is less than stellar.

How Long Does the California Contractors License Bond Last?

Bond Validity

The California Contractors License Bond is valid for a period of one or two years, depending on the bond’s terms. 

Contractors are required to maintain an active bond at all times during their licensing period. Failure to do so can result in penalties or even the suspension of your contractor’s license.

What Happens if There’s a Claim Against My Bond?

The Claim Process

If a consumer files a claim against your California Contractors License Bond, the surety company will investigatethe claim to determine its validity. If the claim is deemed valid, the surety company will pay the claimant up to the bond amount. However, as the contractor, you are ultimately responsible for repaying the surety company for any claim payouts, as well as any legal fees associated with the claim.

To avoid claims, it’s essential to adhere to the rules and regulations set forth by the CSLB, honor your contracts, and provide high-quality workmanship.

What’s the Difference Between a Contractors License Bond and Insurance?

Bonds vs. Insurance

While both bonds and insurance are designed to protect parties from financial loss, they serve different purposes and offer distinct forms of protection. Generally speaking, bonds are to protect the consumer, whilst insurance is there to protect you and your company from liability.

A California Contractors License Bond protects consumers by ensuring that contractors adhere to CSLB rules and regulations. If a contractor fails to meet their obligations, the bond will cover the consumer’s financial loss.

Contractors’ insurance, on the other hand, protects the contractor and their business from financial loss due to property damage, bodily injury, or other liabilities that may arise during the course of their work.

As a contractor, it’s important to have both a bond and adequate insurance coverage to protect yourself and your clients.


The California Contractors License Bond is an essential requirement for contractors operating in the Golden State. By understanding the ins and outs of this bond, you’ll be better equipped to navigate the bonding process and maintain compliance with the CSLB requirements.

Remember to keep in mind the California Contractors License Bond’s purpose, cost, validity, and the process of obtaining and maintaining one. Additionally, be aware of how to handle claims and the difference between a bond and insurance. With this knowledge, you’ll be on the path to a successful and thriving contracting business in sunny California!


How to Check the Status of Your California Contractors License Application

Applying for a California Contractors License is a significant step toward building a successful construction business in California. You’ve taken the test and passed – but now you don’t know where your application is in the process. Or maybe you took the test a while ago and aren’t sure where you are and what the next steps are.

In this article, we’ll guide you through the process of checking the status of your California Contractors License Application, so you can know exactly where you are in the process of becoming a California contractor. Let’s dive in!

Step #1: Gather Your Application Details

Prepping for the Check

Like any application check, you’ll need to have all of your information on hand to even perform the check. Before checking your application’s status, ensure you have the following information handy:

  • Your Application Fee Number: This number is assigned to your application when you pay the initial application fee.
  • Your Social Security Number (SSN) or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN): The CSLB will use this to identify your application.

With this information on hand, you can easily check the status of your application. 

Step #2: Visit the CSLB Website

Navigating to the Right Place

To check the status of your California Contractors License Application, you’ll need to head to the Contractors State License Board’s website. Once there, follow these simple steps:

Locate the “Online Services” menu.

  1. Click on the “Check a License” or “Check an Application” link.

You can also go directly to the Application Check Status page by clicking this link.

Step #3: Enter Your Information

Getting Down to Business

On the “Check an Application” page, you’ll need to input the necessary details:

  1. Type in your Application Fee Number or Contractor PIN # in the box. They may ask you to provide your SSN or ITIN in the next step, where applicable.

After entering your information, click the “Submit” button to proceed.

Step #4: Review Your Application Status

Keeping Your Finger on the Pulse

Once you’ve submitted your information, the CSLB will provide an overview of your application’s current status. This will include:

  • The current processing stage: This indicates which part of the licensing process your application is in, such as background check, exam scheduling, or bond submission. 
  • Any outstanding requirements: If there are any missing documents or unfulfilled requirements, the CSLB will list them here.

Any and all of these steps will help you understand where your application is at, and any steps you may need to take to complete your application. Any further information you may need can be acquired by contacting the CSLB directly.

What to Do if Your Application is Delayed or Denied

Navigating Potential Roadblocks

If your application is delayed or denied, don’t worry – the CSLB is there to help you move through the process. Usually, the information to fix your delay or denial will be available online in your application status, but you may need to take further steps to understand the issues.

To resolve any problems, take the following steps:

  1. Review the CSLB’s feedback and identify the specific issue(s).
  2. Gather any necessary documentation or complete any required actions, such as retaking an exam or providing additional references.
  3. Contact the CSLB directly if you need further clarification or guidance.

By proactively addressing any delays or denials, you’ll increase your chances of successfully obtaining your California Contractors License – so you can get to work right away and start making more of that beautiful, beautiful green.


Checking the status of your California Contractors License Application is a crucial aspect of staying informed and ensuring a successful licensing process. By following the steps outlined in this article, you can confidently monitor your application’s progress and address any potential roadblocks that may arise.