Monthly Archives: September 2023

Common Problems Facing New General Contractors

Just got your CSLB Class B License and are ready to strike out on your own as a general contractor?

First off, congratulations! Becoming a CSLB-certified general contractor is no joke, and you’ve worked hard to get to this point. Now you’re ready to start taking on jobs – a process that can be both exhilarating and terrifying at the same time.

By now, you’ve got enough experience working on jobs as a journeyman or contractor, so you know what to expect when it comes to handling the on-site responsibilities of a general contractor – but what about the rest of being a general contractor?

Yes, once you become a general contractor, your days of drilling or digging are over. Now you’re the boss, and you’ve got different things to worry about – and these are the types of things nobody teaches you.

Here are some of the most common problems that new general contractors run into – so you can be prepared when they show up.

Juggling Multiple Tasks And Projects 

One of the very first issues for general contractors is managing all the multiple areas of general contracting at once. You’ve got to handle both on-site and off-site duties all at the same time, from dealing with materials vendors to overseeing a weld, to talking to your client, to paying your taxes on time.

As a general contractor, one of the first things you need to learn is how to juggle all these various tasks and demands at once. When you’ve got a project going on, people will be asking you things, all day, every day, from the moment you wake up, to the moment you go to sleep.

Be ready for an eternal onslaught of information when you start working as a general contractor, both coming in to you and out of you. You need to be a prism to everyone involved in the project – you should be the one harnessing the whole project and then channeling out the energy.

The complexity of managing multiple projects is further compounded by the need to coordinate with various stakeholders, including clients, subcontractors, suppliers, and regulatory authorities. Each stakeholder has different expectations and requirements, adding another layer of complexity to project management.

Mismanagement can lead to project delays, cost overruns, and damaged reputations, especially if they happen more than once, but the reality is that you’ll never be able to handle every task perfectly, every time. In fact, a study by McKinsey & Company found that 98% of large-scale construction projects incur cost overruns or delays.

In this situation, it’s important – as always – to first remain calm, and then, assess the situation. Once you’ve taken a moment to consider what to do, then you can take action and – again, calmly – begin fixing the problem with your team.

Always maintain calmness and clear-mindedness when dealing with a problem on a job site. You are the prism. You set the tone for the job, and it’s important you maintain an aura of calmness. 

Unpredictable Weather

More pertinent than ever now for general contractors just coming onto the scene is to always stay aware and flexible when it comes to weather. 

For example, July was the hottest month in human history, and in California in particular, we felt it. In that situation, you need to be aware of the extreme heat and take caution, like adding more shade to your job site or enforcing mandatory water breaks.

It’s important to not only prepare for the worst when it comes to weather as a general contractor, but it’s also important to budget for it. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), weather-related delays cost the construction industry over $4 billion annually.

While weather forecasting tools can provide some guidance, their accuracy is not always guaranteed, making weather-related disruptions a constant concern for contractors. You must always have contingencies for any weather issues.

Unpredictable Material Costs

The cost of construction materials is another common problem for general contractors, especially these days. Prices can fluctuate wildly due to factors such as supply chain disruptions, changes in demand, or geopolitical events. 

These fluctuations are often sudden and random and put a ton of strain on the already tight budgets of general contractors. And costs have only increased recently – a report by Turner & Townsend revealed that construction costs increased by 5% in 2022 due to rising material prices. And considering the, let’s say, shaky ground that the economy is on as of writing this, it’s important to constantly stay ahead of any cost issues. 

In addition to the direct impact on projects themselves, extending the lengths of projects, and more. Most importantly, it can make it difficult for contractors to accurately estimate project costs, which obviously affects your bottom line both in terms of captured profit and in terms of missed opportunities due to overbidding.

Skilled Labor

The construction industry is currently grappling with a shortage of skilled labor. 

The problem is further exacerbated by an aging workforce and a lack of interest among younger generations in pursuing careers in construction. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the construction industry will need to hire 430,000 more workers in 2023 to meet demand – a number that seems unlikely to be met.

As a general contractor, this presents a massive problem.  The labor shortage is not just a numbers game. It also involves the quality of the workforce. 

The construction industry requires a wide range of skills, from manual labor to technical expertise, and fewer workers means fewer subcontractors you can trust. Trust is a key factor of building a quality team that can complete the jobs you worked so hard to earn – so this skilled labor shortage is a real issue.

We honestly don’t have much advice here – this is a deep issue that no single gen con can fix. The only thing we can say is if you find a good sub that delivers good work, HOLD ONTO THEM!

Regulatory Compliance Issues

General contractors must navigate a complex web of regulations and standards that are constantly changing – from building codes and safety regulations to environmental guidelines. While it’s difficult, it’s no excuse.

Non-compliance can result in hefty fines, project delays, and even legal action in many cases.  A study by the National Association of Home Builders found that regulatory costs account for 24.3% of the final price of a new single-family home.

In this situation, it’s often good to delegate your compliance issues to a legal advisor or a lawyer. Anyone who is an expert in compliance can make a huge difference to a general contractor, and like many subcontractors you’ll hire, they’re well worth the money.

Slipping Safety Standards

Maintaining high safety standards is a critical but challenging task for general contractors. Construction sites are inherently hazardous, and accidents can lead to injuries, fatalities, and legal liabilities – which is why OSHA reported that one in five worker deaths in 2022 were in construction. 

Contractors must implement rigorous safety protocols and ensure that all workers adhere to them to minimize risks, and considering the thousands of little things that general contractors have to pay attention to on a job site, safety standards can often be lacking.

You can help ease the burden of safety standards by…well, setting a standard. If you establish a standard of strict safety on your job sites from day 1 of any project, your team will follow them. Remember, you’re the prism – the rest of the job follows your beam of light.

Any good general contractor knows that a culture of safety where all workers are aware of the risks and take proactive measures to mitigate them not only results in a safe workplace, it means less stress. 

Stay Calm And Fix The Problem

The one thing you can always, always, always do as a general contractor is stay calm and focus on solving the problem.

It doesn’t matter where the problem came from or who was involved or any of that – as a general contractor, you are there to put out fires first and foremost. And again, remember, you set the tone for your entire job site – so by keeping calm and focusing on solutions, you encourage the entire team to respond in kind.

Further Reading

The State of the Construction Industry – Construction Industry Federation

Weather Impact on Construction – National Weather Service

Global Construction Material Cost Index – World Bank

The Construction Labor Shortage: A Global Perspective – International Labor Organization

Construction Regulations and Compliance – Occupational Safety and Health Administration

Safety Standards in the Construction Industry – National Safety Council

Reinventing construction: A route to higher productivity – McKinsey & Company

Billion-Dollar Weather and Climate Disasters: Overview – National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI)

International Construction Market Survey 2022 – Turner & Townsend

Job Openings and Labor Turnover – January 2023 – U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

The Impact of Regulations on the Cost of Construction – National Association of Home Builders

Commonly Used Statistics – Occupational Safety and Health Administration

What Is A Journeyman And How Is It Related To My CSLB License?

Just moved to California as a contractor and need your CSLB license – as any contractor does – to start doing construction work in the State?

Or maybe you’re a fresh-faced 18-year-old, who sees a career in construction in the future, and you are looking for the path to making that a reality.

In any case, no matter what type of construction work you want to do in California, you need a CSLB license – and in order to get a CSLB license, you need to first become a journeyman.

But what is a journeyman? And how does it play into getting your CSLB contractor’s license? In this article, we’ll walk you through everything and anything related to being a construction journeyman.

Journeymen and Journey-level Experience

The CSLB defines a journeyman as anyone who has “journey-level experience”, which is anyone who “has completed an apprenticeship program or is an experienced worker, not a trainee, and is fully qualified and able to perform a specific trade without supervision.”

Unlike a novice or a trainee, a journeyman is fully qualified and capable of performing their trade without supervision. They are experienced, skilled construction workers who have specialty expertise in their area of operation – whether it’s a hands-on trade like plumbing or the more general practice of general contracting.

Despite the ability of a journeyman to essentially perform all of the jobs of a licensed contractor, a journeyman cannot do contracting work on their own – only under the supervision of a general contractor. That means that even if you have all the skills to perform construction work on jobs over $500, you still cannot do it. 

If journeymen are found doing contracting work, they are treated just like any other unlicensed contractor in the eyes of the law – facing all the same penalties, despite their skill and experience.

Do not do work on your own as a journeyman – wait until you’re a licensed contractor. You’re already on the path to becoming a licensed contractor, so why ruin it by breaking the law?

The Journeyman’s Experience Requirement

One of the essential requirements to obtain a CSLB contractor’s license is the journey-level experience requirement. This requirement means that you must have at least four (4) years of journey-level experience in your area of expertise. 

You must have four years’ journey-level experience in your trade. If you’re a plumber applying for a C-36 Plumbing license, you need four years’ journeyman experience as a plumber. You can’t, for example, do 4 years of general contracting work, and then expect to get an HVAC contractor’s license.

Exceptions From The CSLB Journey-level Experience Requirement

As always with the CSLB, there’s always exceptions to the rule. There are many situations where one may be exempt from the classical definition of “journey-level experience”.

Some situations where you can apply for an exception from the journey-level experience requirement include:

    • Education/Apprenticeship
      • The CSLB does allow anyone to apply for an exemption to the journeyman requirement by substituting four (4) years of technical training or apprenticeship training
      • Note – you must have at least one (1) year of practical experience.
    • Builder-Owner
      • In some situations, you can be exempt from the journey-level experience requirement if you built your own home. This is taken by the CSLB on a case-by-case basis.
  • Reciprocity
    • The CSLB has reciprocity agreements with a number of states – and if you’re a licensed contractor in these states, you can be exempt from having to start over again as a journeyman.

The Path To Becoming A Journeyman

Don’t have your journey-level experience but need some to get your contractor’s license? How do you even get your journeyman experience in the first place? 

An easy way to do it is to reach out to local contractors in your area and see if they’ll offer you an apprenticeship or work experience program in the area you’re interested in. You may not be making a ton of money, if you’re making money at all, but think of it long term – you are building your knowledge base and your abilities so that you can start bringing in the big bucks for the rest of your life.

By working under a licensed contractor, you can not only learn the ropes but also perform the work you will ultimately be doing in your area of expertise. Look at it this way – most people go to university for four years only to leave with a diploma, hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt, and a degree in something that probably won’t be relevant in a few years anyway.

What’s a few years of learning the skills that will suit you for life – and being paid for it? Anyone with a bit of determination and an attitude of open-mindedness and learning can get their CSLB license – all it takes is a few years of hard work.

Additional Reading

Can a Contractor Work Under Someone Else’s License in California?

Are you an experienced contractor who has just moved to California and wants to start working right away? Or maybe you’re just starting out in the construction industry and you need to get work experience? 

In either case, the thought has probably crossed your mind – do you really need to get your own California Contractors State Licensing Board (CSLB) contractor license? Why not just borrow a friend or family member’s contractor license?

In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about whether you can work under someone else’s contractor license in California.

Do I Need A Contractor’s License?

If you’re an experienced contractor with all the skills required to build, renovate, and repair, you might think, “Why don’t I just do the work without a license? I know how to do it.”

The answer is much like driving a car without a suspended license – it’s against the law, and if you do so, you could face serious criminal penalties, including jail time. (Now that we think about it, almost everything about CSLB licenses is like driver’s licenses!)

The CSLB – the legal authority here – requires ALL contractors to hold a valid CSLB contractor’s license in their specific classification, whenever performing work over $500.

So, Can A Contractor Work Under Someone Else’s License?

Strictly speaking, the answer is no – you cannot perform construction work on jobs with a value over $500, including materials, without a valid CSLB contractor’s license.

Here’s why:

  • A Contractor’s license is not transferable: A contractor license issued by the CSLB is strictly in the name of the license holder and is non-transferable. This fact effectively rules out the possibility of ‘working under’ someone else’s license.
  • Responsibility and accountability issues: The license holder assumes complete responsibility for all operations, including the quality of work and financial obligations. Allowing another contractor to work under their license could expose the license holder to significant risk and liability.

Exceptions to the Rule: The RMO and RME

While the general rule is clear, there are a couple of exceptions – the Responsible Managing Officer (RMO) and Responsible Managing Employee (RME). In these scenarios, it might appear as if a contractor is working under another’s license, but the dynamics are a bit different.

  • Responsible Managing Officer (RMO): An RMO is an individual who is a bona fide officer of the company and may hold as little as 10% of the voting stock. They have direct control and supervision of the company’s operations and can be held personally liable for violations.
  • Responsible Managing Employee (RME): An RME is an individual who is employed by the licensed entity and actively involved in the day-to-day activities of the business. The RME cannot engage in any other business that could detract from their duties for the licensed entity.

In both these roles, the individual’s personal contractor license becomes associated with the company, effectively allowing ‘working under’ the company’s license. Oftentimes this exception is used to gain the necessary work experience for a would-be contractor.

Remember, the CSLB expects the RMO or RME to exercise direct supervision and control, thus ensuring quality and consumer protection. Any issues with the work will mean the RME or RMO will be held personally responsible.

A Quick Word On Reciprocity

Although this is technically NOT an exemption to the contractor’s license requirements set forth by the CSLB, it IS possible to fast-track your contractor’s license in California if you hold a valid contractor’s license in Arizona, Louisiana, Nevada, and Utah.

Check out our blog post on reciprocity agreements for more information.

The Final Word: “No.”

In a word, NO, you cannot work under someone else’s contractor license in California.

There are a couple of exceptions – RMEs and RMOs – and it is possible to get your license in California without going through the regular route to get your license.

The penalties for doing unlicensed contracting work in California can be severe – including fines and prison time. When in doubt, assume that if you’re doing any sort of contracting work in California – you need your own contractor’s license.

Put it this way: you wouldn’t use someone else’s driver’s license to be legally able to drive a car, so why would you be allowed to do the complicated engineering of building a home?

Additional Reading

The Pros and Cons of Having Contractors Licenses In Multiple States

If you’re a contractor somewhere in the U.S., you’ve probably thought about the potential for obtaining multiple contractors licenses, across multiple states. 

In theory, it sounds great: more licenses means the potential for more profit – but does reality match our initial thought process? Is it worth it to get multiple state contractors’ licenses?

Let’s find out.

The Pros of Having Multiple State Contractors Licenses

More Opportunity For Jobs

The most obvious pro of having multiple state licenses means you have more access to more construction processes, especially as the construction industry in America is expected to continue to grow by 9% every year.

This doesn’t mean that construction jobs will magically fall into your lap – if you’re operating in Oregon, you might struggle to build a reputation in Alabama – but if you have a way to find jobs in other states, holding multiple licenses will allow you to take advantage of these opportunities. 

This will also help you build resilience for your business – by increasing the geography where you can do construction, you insulate yourself from things like natural disasters in your state or regulatory issues that could make it more difficult to do your job in your home state.

Larger Revenues

More opportunities naturally lead to a larger stream of revenue. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for construction managers was just shy of $100,000, so by expanding into other states, you can see that number rise quickly. 

Competitive Edge

In a crowded marketplace, holding multiple state contractor’s licenses can give you the edge over your rivals. It showcases your commitment, adaptability, and a willingness to go the extra mile – qualities that clients admire and seek in a contractor. 

It also allows you to work on projects that cross state lines – putting you at the top of the list when potential clients are evaluating bids on their RFPs.

The Cons of Having Multiple State Contractors Licenses

Administrative Headaches

More contractor’s licenses = more administrative work. 

Juggling all the red tape and bureaucracy of just a single license can be difficult – let alone navigating the byzantine labyrinth of renewal dates, regulations, and certifications and qualifications required by each state.

In addition, as you expand your business beyond your state of origin, you’ll inevitably have to hire more people to take advantage of the new opportunities that have opened up. Yes, you’ll be able to raise your revenue, but that brings with it the need to manage teams of people across state lines – and ensure quality across projects, so your reputation stays intact.

Rising Costs

Obtaining multiple state contractor’s licenses can weigh heavily on your wallet. Each state imposes its own set of licensing fees, and they can quickly add up. The National Association of State Contractors Licensing Agencies (NASCLA) states that license fees can range anywhere from $200 to $1,000 per state.

In addition to just the fees for obtaining your license, in many cases, expanding into other states requires you to hire additional employees or subcontractors to help you perform the work. As you grow your team, so will your costs – cutting into any additional profit you may gain from expanding into other markets.

Compliance Nightmares

As with the administrative load that comes with expanding into new states, simply keeping up with the constantly changing rules and regulations of multiple states can be a daunting task. 

A slip-up in one state could potentially jeopardize your licenses in others. Maintaining compliance across the varied political and ecological frameworks present across America is like walking a tightrope – a delicate balancing act that requires constant vigilance and just plain, hard work.

Should I Get Multiple Contractors’ Licenses?

Everyone’s favorite answer: it depends.

While the prospect of expansion and increased revenue is tantalizing, it’s crucial to weigh these advantages against the cruel realities of expansion: growing your business across state lines is expensive, risky, and requires constant attention and expertise to maintain good standing.

We really can’t decide for you – only you know the health and future of your business – so weigh the pros and cons wisely!

What Contractor License Do I Need In California?

Are you a construction professional in California – or a construction professional in another state and looking to move to California for work?

Then you’ll need a California Contractors State Licensing Board (CSLB) contractor’s license to perform any job with a value over $500! 

But what kind of license do you need to legally perform your work in California? We’ve got you covered with this easy-to-understand article.

Overview of California Contractor License Classifications

California offers a wide range of contractor licenses, with over 40 classifications available to cover various trades. These licenses fall into three primary categories:

  1. Class A – General Engineering Contractor: This license is for contractors whose primary business involves fixed works requiring specialized engineering knowledge and skill.
  2. Class B – General Building Contractor: The B license is for contractors who build or remodel structures, including those intended for human habitation.
    1. Class B-2 – Remodeling Contractor
  3. Class C – Specialty Contractor: The C license covers various trades and crafts, with over 40 specific classifications under this category.

Each classification has unique requirements and authorizes the contractor to perform particular tasks. Let’s explore some of the most common C-Specialty Contractor classifications.

Popular C-Specialty Contractor Classifications in California

Below is a list of some common C-Specialty Contractor classifications, including their classification code and a brief description:

  • C-2 – Insulation and Acoustical: Installation of insulation and acoustical treatments.
  • C-4 – Boiler, Hot Water Heating, and Steam Fitting: Work with boilers, hot water heating systems, and steam fitting.
  • C-5 – Framing and Rough Carpentry: Construction and installation of rough and finish carpentry.
  • C-6 – Cabinet, Millwork, and Finish Carpentry: Creation and installation of cabinets, millwork, and finish carpentry.
  • C-7 – Low Voltage Systems: Work on low voltage systems, such as alarm systems and communication devices.
  • C-8 – Concrete: Concrete projects, including pouring, finishing, and reinforcement.
  • C-9 – Drywall: Installation of drywall and related materials.
  • C-10 – Electrical: Electrical system installation, maintenance, and repair.
  • C-11 – Elevator: Installation and repair of elevators and related equipment.
  • C-12 – Earthwork and Paving: Grading, excavation, and paving projects.
  • C-13 – Fencing: Construction and repair of fences and related structures.
  • C-15 – Flooring and Floor Covering: Installation and repair of various flooring types, including carpet, hardwood, and tile.
  • C-16 – Fire Protection: Installation and maintenance of fire protection systems, such as sprinklers and alarms.
  • C-17 – Glazing: Installation and repair of glass and glass-related products.
  • C-20 – Warm-Air Heating, Ventilating, and Air-Conditioning: Installation and repair of HVAC systems.
  • C-21 – Building Moving/Demolition: Building relocation and demolition projects.
  • C-22 – Asbestos Abatement: Removal and encapsulation of asbestos-containing materials.
  • C-23 – Ornamental Metal: Fabrication and installation of ornamental metal products.
  • C-27 – Landscaping: Construction, maintenance, and repair of landscape projects.
  • C-28 – Lock and Security Equipment: Installation and repair of locks, safes, and security systems.
  • C-29 – Masonry: Masonry work, including the construction and repair of brick, stone, and concrete structures.
  • C-31 – Construction Zone Traffic Control: Management of traffic flow within construction zones.
  • C-32 – Parking and Highway Improvement: Installation and repair of parking facilities, highways, and related improvements.
  • C-33 – Painting and Decorating: Painting, finishing, and decorating services for various surfaces and structures.
  • C-34 – Pipeline: Installation and repair of pipelines for water, gas, and other substances.
  • C-35 – Lathing and Plastering: Application and repair of lathing and plastering materials.
  • C-36 – Plumbing: Installation and repair of plumbing systems, including fixtures and appliances.
  • C-38 – Refrigeration: Installation and repair of refrigeration systems and equipment.
  • C-39 – Roofing: Installation and repair of various roofing materials and systems.
  • C-42 – Sanitation System: Covers the installation, maintenance, and repair of septic tanks and other sanitation systems.
  • C-43 – Sheet Metal: Fabrication and installation of sheet metal products.
  • C-45 – Sign: Authorizes the installation and repair of signs, including electrical and non-electrical signs.
  • C-46 – Solar: Installation and repair of solar energy systems.
  • C-47 – General Manufactured Housing: Construction, remodeling, and repair of manufactured housing units.
  • C-50 – Reinforcing Steel: Involves the installation of reinforcing steel in concrete structures.
  • C-51 – Structural Steel: Fabrication and erection of structural steel components.
  • C-53 – Swimming Pool: Covers the construction and repair of swimming pools, spas, and related equipment.
  • C-54 – Ceramic and Mosaic Tile: Authorizes the installation and repair of ceramic and mosaic tile work.
  • C-55 – Water Conditioning: Installation and repair of water conditioning systems and equipment.
  • C-57 – Well Drilling: Involves the drilling and installation of water wells.
  • C-60 – Welding: Covers welding projects, such as structural steel and pipe welding.
  • C-61 – Limited Specialty: A broad category for various limited specialties not covered by other classifications.
  • C-63 – Construction Clean-up: Cleaning and waste removal services for construction sites.

For a complete list of California contractor license classifications, visit the CSLB Licensing Classifications page!

Choosing the Right License for Your Trade

When determining “What contractor license do I need in California?”, consider the specific tasks and projects you’ll be undertaking. After looking at the list of CSLB classifications, you probably already know what kind of license you’ll need – but remember that you may need multiple licenses to perform some types of work.

For example, a landscaping contractor (a C-27 license holder) may also need a C-8 Concrete License if they frequently construct patios, walkways, or retaining walls. A general contractor may need an electrical license if he’s also installing outlets.

In Conclusion

Obtaining the appropriate contractor license is a critical step in establishing a successful and legally compliant business in California. By understanding the various classifications and their requirements, you can confidently select the right license for your trade and ensure your business operates within the state’s regulations.

What’s The Easiest Contractor’s License To Get In California?

What’s the easiest contractor’s license to get in California? Well, it’s complicated.

Maybe you’re a construction professional who has worked a bunch of construction jobs in California, but you’re ready to move to the next level with your California Contractors State Licensing Board (CSLB) contractors license. 

Or maybe you just moved to California from out of state and need to find work right away – but you need a contractor’s license to do it. Either way, you need your license right away and you want to know the easiest type of contractor license to get in California.

In this article, we’ll dig into the easiest contractor’s license to get in California.

How Hard Is It To Get Your License, Anway?

We’re just going to say straight from the top – getting your CSLB contractor license in California is not an easy task. 

Since the CSLB is the agency responsible for vetting contractors and ensuring contractors and the public alike are protected from unscrupulous and potentially destructive contractors, they have made the process to get your license intentionally difficult – to separate the contractor wheat from the contractor chaff.

No matter what contractor license you choose, you will still have to take the dreaded CSLB examination in order to get your license and become a licensed contractor. In short, there are no shortcuts to being a licensed contractor – it’s hard for a reason!

Types of Licenses

California offers a variety of contractor licenses, divided into three primary categories: 

  • Class A – General Engineering
  • Class B – General Building

Although the easiest contractor’s license to get in California depends on your individual experience and preferences, certain specialty licenses tend to have fewer prerequisites and require less experience. The following options are often considered the easiest:

  1. C-61 Limited Specialty License: Encompassing a diverse array of limited specialties not covered by other classifications, the C-61 license generally has lower experience requirements, making it a popular choice among newcomers to the industry.
  2. C-54 Ceramic and Mosaic Tile License: Allowing the installation and repair of ceramic and mosaic tile work, the C-54 license has a lower barrier to entry than other specialty licenses and is an attractive option for aspiring contractors.
  3. C-33 Painting and Decorating License: Authorizing painting, finishing, and decorating services for various surfaces and structures, the C-33 license typically has less stringent experience requirements and is often deemed one of the easiest licenses to acquire.

California Contractor License Requirements

Regardless of the license you pursue, there are standard requirements you’ll need to fulfill the following requirements.

  • Experience: A minimum of four years of journey-level experience in the specific trade is necessary. However, some licenses, such as the C-61, may have lower experience requirements.
  • Examinations: Applicants must pass both the trade-specific exam and the California Law and Business exam.
  • Background Check: Fingerprint submission is required for a background check.
  • Bonding: Contractors must secure a $25,000 contractor’s bond or an equivalent cash deposit.
  • Insurance: General liability insurance and workers’ compensation insurance are necessary to provide to the CSLB.

Find more information about contractor license requirements on the CSLB website.

California Contractor License Application Process

To obtain the easiest contractor’s license in California, follow these steps:

  1. Complete the Application: Fill out the Application for Original Contractor License
  2. Submit Supporting Documents: Provide proof of your experience, such as a Certification of Work Experience.
  3. Pass the Exams: Take and pass the CSLB exam, which consists of two parts: the Law and Business Exam and the Trade Exam.
  4. Get Fingerprinted: Submit fingerprints for a background check.
  5. Secure Bonding and Insurance: Obtain the required $25,000 contractor’s bond or cash deposit and the necessary insurance.

Gaining Experience for the Easiest Contractors License in California

In order to get a contractor’s license in California, you must have the relevant experience to work in your area of expertise.

If you don’t have the experience yet, here are a few ways to acquire that important on-the-job training:

  1. Become an Apprentice: Apprenticeships provide valuable on-the-job training and experience, which are essential for pursuing a contractor’s license in California. Seek apprenticeship opportunities in your desired trade to gain hands-on skills and knowledge. Reaching out to your local Trade Association can help you find someone to work for.
  2. Work as a Handyman: In California, you do not require a license for smaller jobs or repairs – any job that is valued under $500. By working as a handyman, you can build your skills and gain experience in various aspects of construction work. Just make sure you keep your jobs under $500 or you could face serious penalties.
  3. Complete a Trade School Program: Trade schools offer programs that teach specific skills related to construction trades, such as carpentry, plumbing, and electrical work. In many cases, these trade school programs can satisfy the CSLB contractor license experience requirement.


While there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to “What is the easiest contractor’s license to get in California?”, some licenses – like the C-61 Limited Specialty License, C-54 Ceramic and Mosaic Tile License, and C-33 Painting and Decorating License – generally have fewer prerequisites and are considered easier to obtain.

That said, there is no shortcut to getting any specific license more quickly and easily than others. The main sticking point for most contractors is passing the notoriously tough CSLB exam – so focus your time and resources on that rather than looking for shortcuts or ways to fast-track your contractor’s license.

Updated For 2023: How to Get A Contractor’s License in California

Let’s not waste any time – here’s the most direct, easiest way to get your Contractors State License Board (CSLB) contractor’s license in California in the year 2023.

Step 1: Determine the Type of License You Need

The CSLB offers three main types of licenses:

  1. Class A Contractor License – General Engineering Contractor: This is for engineers and projects that require specialized engineering knowledge and skill. Usually, this is public works – projects like highways, bridges, and public works projects.
  2. Class B Contractor License – General Building Contractor: Any contractor that works on structures that require at least two unrelated building trades or crafts, such as residential and commercial construction.
    1. Class B-2 Contractor LicenseGeneral Remodeling Contractor: Contractors who work SOLELY on improvements or repairs to existing structures. B-2 holders cannot work on new construction.
  3. Class C Contractor License – Speciality Contractor: Specialty licenses are required for contractors who work in specific trades like HVAC or plumbing.

There are 41 Class C classifications offered by the CSLB, and they cover practically any construction trade you can think of.

You can see the full list of CSLB Class C classifications here.

Step 2: Meet the Minimum Requirements

Before applying for a contractor’s license in California, you have to meet some basic requirements:

  • Be at least 18 years old
    • You must be 23 to apply for a Class B General Contractor license
  • Have a valid Social Security Number or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number
  • Possess at least four years of journey-level experience in your chosen classification

Step 3: Prepare for the CSLB Exam

After ensuring you satisfy all the basic requirements to even apply for the CSLB exam, the next step is taking the infamously difficult CSLB exam.

This two-part exam takes roughly FOUR HOURS and consists of 200+ questions about the construction business, law, and your specific trade. It is an absolute doozy – a test that is designed to really test contractors’ knowledge and expertise – so it’s no wonder so many people fail it. 

The CSLB provides study guides and resources to help you prepare – in English and Spanish – but the ultimate way to make sure you pass the CSLB exam the first time is by taking an exam prep course with a reputable company.

These courses exist solely to help contractors pass the exam first try – so if you want the easiest and quickest route to your contractor’s license, taking a CSLB exam prep course – like those offered by CSLS – is a no-brainer.

Step 4: Complete the Application Process

Once you’re ready to apply, follow these steps:

  1. Obtain a Fingerprint Live Scan, as all applicants must undergo a criminal background check.
  2. Complete the Application for Original Contractor License (Form 13L-50).
  3. Pay the non-refundable $330 application fee.
  4. Provide proof of your work experience
  5. Designate a qualifying individual (either yourself or someone else) responsible for the license’s activities.
  6. Submit a contractor’s bond in the amount of $25,000, which ensures compliance with California’s contracting laws.
  7. Submit proof of Workers’ Compensation Insurance

Mail your completed application and supporting documents to the CSLB headquarters. After reviewing your application, they will schedule your exams. You can also apply online now at the CSLB website.

Step 5: Pass the Examinations and Pay Licensing Fees

After submitting all the application paperwork and proving that you are legally able to be a licensed contractor in California, you will have to take the dreaded CSLB exam.

If you’ve studied well and prepared yourself adequately to achieve a 72% grade on both exams, you will receive a Notice of Examination Pass. Nowadays, you will receive that information basically right after receiving the test. 

Within 60 days of receiving this notice, pay the following fees:

  • $200 initial licensing fee
  • $100 Contractor’s Bond registration fee (if not previously registered)

Once you’ve completed these steps, the CSLB will issue your contractor’s license.

Step 6: Maintain Your License

To keep your contractor’s license active in California, you must:

  • Renew it every two years
  • Maintain a $25,000 Contractor’s Bond
  • Comply with Workers’ Compensation Insurance requirements
    • Every subcontractor on your job site must be covered by Workers’ Comp!
  • Complete continuing education requirements, if applicable


Getting a contractor’s license in California is a significant milestone for any aspiring contractor. By following this comprehensive guide, you can navigate the process with confidence, pass the required exams, and secure your license. Don’t forget to invest in your professional development, stay updated on industry trends, and implement efficient business practices to maximize your success in the Golden State.


FAQ: CSLB Licensing Workshops

Are you considering becoming a licensed contractor in California? The process can be overwhelming, with what feels like thousands of hoops to jump through and forms to fill out. 

Wisely, the Contractors State License Board (CSLB) has started offering licensing workshops to help guide you through it. 

In this article, we’ll cover the most frequently asked questions about CSLB licensing workshops, including what they are, how they can help you, and how to sign up.

What Are CSLB Licensing Workshops?

The CSLB offers a variety of licensing workshops to assist individuals who are interested in becoming licensed contractors.

These step-by-step guides are short, but highly informational, workshops that really guide you through the entire process of applying for, testing for, and ultimately receiving a California contractor license. 

They cover all sorts of topics and have been shaped by common questions that the CSLB found contractors were asking. Some of the areas covered in these workshops include:

  • A general overview of CSLB licensing requirements
    • What do you need to actually become a contractor?
  • Business and financial management for contractors 
    • How to manage the business side of contracting?
  • Exam preparation and test-taking strategies
    • Basically – how to pass the notorious CSLB exam?
  • Laws and regulations related to contracting in California
    • Learn how to make sure you’re doing work legally
  • How to avoid common mistakes in the licensing process
    • Mistakes can hold up your license for weeks or months. Just don’t!
  • How to file a complaint against a contractor
    • An unfortunate side of the business, but necessary. CSLB professionals can tell you how to best handle an unscrupulous contractor.

How much does the CSLB licensing workshop cost?

These workshops are free! You don’t have to pay a red cent! 

The CSLB started giving these workshops out as a way to help contractors get licensed, so they have no need to charge. They just want to help you become a contractor!

Where and when do I take the CSLB licensing workshop?

The CSLB hosts their licensing workshop on the first Friday of every month at 10:00 a.m.

Usually, these workshops are in-person, but since the COVID pandemic, they’ve shifted these workshops to entirely online. As of April 2023, it seems that these workshops are still fully digital. 

How do I sign up?

The CSLB recommends signing up for their email list to receive access to register.

They encourage you to check the box for “Podcasts and Webcasts” to ensure you receive your invitation, as well. Otherwise, you’ll receive the wrong information (although perhaps still relevant to your license!).

Is the CSLB licensing workshop available in Spanish?

Yes! The CSLB licensing workshop is available in Spanish.

Find out more about taking the licensing workshop here, or watch the video below:

Participa en nuestro workshop para obtener la licencia para construir

Bonus: Get CSLB Exam Study Guides… In Spanish!

Spanish-speaking construction professionals rejoice! The CSLB has released a bunch of brand-new Spanish study guides. 

These study guides cover a variety of topics, including construction law, safety, and business practices, and can help you pass the exam first try.

CHECK OUT OUR ARTICLE HERE to see the full list of new study guides in Spanish. Here are a few of the big ones: 

  • C-6 Cabinet, Millwork and Finish Carpentry
  • C-8 Concrete
  • C-10 Electrical
  • C-15 Flooring and Floor Covering
  • C-20 HVAC

These study guides provide valuable assistance to Spanish-speaking applicants who may struggle with the English language, so check them out!

What To Expect From the CSLB Exam: The Essential Facts

If you’re looking to get a California contractor license from the Contractors State License Board (CSLB), you know one of the most difficult parts of the process is passing the notoriously difficult CSLB exam.

This behemoth of a test is designed to be difficult in order to weed out shoddy contractors, so if you go in without preparing, you’re in for a world of hurt.

In this essential but comprehensive guide, we’ll look at only the most crucial elements of the CSLB exam, so you can know what to expect when you sit down and take the test.

The CSLB Exam: A True Test Of A Contractor’s Knowledge

The CSLB exam is designed to evaluate your competency and expertise in your chosen trade, and it is designed to make you fail if you don’t know what you’re doing. 

It is divided into two main parts. 

The first part of the CSLB exam is the Law and Business section, which is taken by applicants. 

The second part of the CSLB exam is the Trade section, which tests the knowledge of your specific trade. If you’re studying for a C-36 Plumbing License, for example, you can expect plumbing-specific questions on your trade exam.

Law and Business Section

This section focuses on contracting business management and includes topics such as contract law, financial management, and employment laws. 

  • 115 Questions Long
  • Multiple-choice format
  • 2.5 hours allotted time
  • Minimum passing score of 72%
  • Divided into the following sections (percentage of the test in parentheses):
    • Licensing (~15%)
    • Bookkeeping (~15%)
    • Safety (~12%)
    • Contracts~(~10%)
    • Bid Procedures (~12%)
    • Insurance (~3%)

Trade Section

The Trade section targets the technical aspects of your chosen specialty. The number of questions and the required passing score depends on your trade classification. However, most trade exams share the following characteristics:

  • 80 to 125 questions
  • Multiple-choice format
  • 2 to 4 hours allotted time
  • Minimum passing score of 72% for most trades
  • Information contained within depends on your trade

Total Questions and Duration

Overall, you can expect to answer between 195 to 240 questions, depending on your trade. The total exam duration ranges from 4.5 to 6.5 hours, with breaks between sections.

How Do I Physically Take The Test?

You can take the test in person at various testing centers around California. There are currently eight testing centers in California. You can take the CSLB exam in the following cities:

  • Berkeley
  • Fresno
  • Norwalk
  • Oxnard
  • Sacramento
  • San Bernardino
  • San Diego
  • San Jose

The exam itself is administered on a touch-screen computer that immediately gives you the results on completion of your test. 

You can find more information about the test itself in this CSLB pamphlet,

Preparing for the CSLB Exam: Effective Strategies and Resources

To achieve success in the CSLB exam, thorough preparation is key. Here are some valuable resources and strategies to aid in your exam preparation

  1. Study Guides. The CSLB offers study guides for each trade classification, which cover key exam topics and provide useful tips.
  1. Sample Questions. Familiarize yourself with the exam format and question types by reviewing sample questions provided by the CSLB.
  2. Practice Tests. The CSLB provides practice tests to make sure you’re not only familiar with the topics covered but also the software to take the test itself.
  3. Take A Course. There are quite a few schools out there – like industry veterans CSLS – that have proven methods and courses to help you pass the test the first time. 

After the Exam: Moving Forward in the Licensing Process

Once you have successfully passed the CSLB exam, what’s next?

Well, you should receive your exam results right after taking the exam, so you’ll know if you passed the exam and need to take the next steps to get your license.

If you scored less than 72%, you will have to retake the exam. If you passed, congratulations! You are close to getting your CSLB license! Here are the next steps to take!

  1. Submit all the relevant documents to the CSLB (Like Contractor’s Bond, Workers’ Compensation Insurance, Licensing Fees, etc.)
  2. Check your exam status
  3. Receive your license!
  4. Begin working as a licensed California contractor!

The CSLB exam is a notoriously difficult proposition for many contractors – and rightfully so – it’s a test of a contractor’s ability to safely and securely deliver a quality product that protects the public from any issues.

That doesn’t mean it’s impossible to pass – far from it. Preparation is the most important part, so study up and get a guide if you need help getting your license today and becoming a contractor tomorrow.

How to Market to Your Local Area as a California Contractor

As a California contractor, one of the hardest parts of being a contractor is growing your business. 

While some contractors are lucky enough to work a number of jobs across different zip codes and geographies, the reality is that the majority of the contractors in the state work in the same area for their entire careers.

With this in mind, it’s absolutely essential for any contractor looking to build success to have a strong local presence. People in your neighborhood need to know who you are and what you do, before they can even think about hiring you.

So how do you reach your local market? What are the best ways for California contractors to get their name out there – and ultimately to win more business. Here’s how.


Define and Understand Your Local Market

Before you can market to your local area, you need to understand it, as well as how your skills, or license fits into your local area’s needs. For example, if you’re a C-57 Well Drilling contractor, you might not find much work in Santa Monica.

Here are some easy ways to define your market:

  • Demographics: Who are the people in your local area? What is their age range, income level, and housing situation? What types of properties are in your area, and which ones need contractors in your discipline?
  • Needs: What are the common construction needs in your area? Are there more demands for home renovations or new constructions? 
  • Competition: Who are your local competitors? What services do they offer, and how can you differentiate yourself? A quick Google search can provide you with a list of local contractors. Analyze their services, pricing, and customer reviews to identify gaps that your business can fill.
  • Networking: Attend industry events, stay up to date with your union meetups, and join professional organizations both locally, regionally and nationally. This not only helps you stay updated with the latest trends but also provides opportunities for networking and collaboration between contracting disciplines. If someone needs a roofer, they’re going to call the roofer they know.


Person-To-Person Contact

Once you’ve understood your local market, the next step is to build a strong local presence. The best way to achieve growth, just like networking, is by face-to-face, in-person connection. 

Especially when it comes to something as expensive and important as construction, people want to hire people they trust. Here’s some specific ways you can do that.

    • Community Involvement: Participate in local events and sponsor local teams or charities. This not only increases your visibility, but also builds your reputation as a community-focused business. People trust people who are invested in their own community and success – so put your money where your mouth is.
    • Local Partnerships: Partner with local businesses to offer joint promotions or discounts. This can help you reach a wider audience and increase your customer base. For instance, partnering with a local home improvement store or joining forces with other contractors in the area to offer discounts is a great way to net new customers.
  • Angie’s List – Angie’s List is a great way to build your local network, as many people use it to find contractors in their area. Sure, this isn’t a direct, in-person way, but usually, if you book a job on Angie’s List, and deliver well, you’ll get hired again.
  • Referral Programs: One of the best ways to grow your business locally is via a referral program. Offer incentives like discounts or free services to motivate satisfied customers to refer you to friends. Referential power is the best way to grow your business – Nielsen underlines that 92% of people trust referrals from people they know.


Digital Marketing Is Essential

In today’s digital age, online marketing is a powerful tool for reaching your local audience. Here are some strategies to consider:

  • Social Media: You need to be using social media if you want to market yourself effectively – not even contractors are exempt from this. Share updates about your projects, offer home improvement tips, and respond to comments and messages – this will help you stay top of mind for your local customers. And don’t underestimate a good, old-fashioned Facebook group for your local community – it’s a great way to connect with people in your area.  
  • Online Advertising: Use platforms like Google Ads and Facebook Ads to reach a wider audience. You can target your ads based on location, demographics, and interests to ensure your ads stay relevant to the people you’re trying to reach.
  • Email Marketing: Along those lines, sending regular newsletters to your subscribers, offering updates, promotions, or useful content can keep you top of mind. According to a study by Campaign Monitor, email marketing has an ROI of $44 for every $1 spent.
  • Local SEO: Optimize your website for local search. This includes using location-specific keywords, such as “California contractor,” and ensuring your business is listed in local directories and on Google Business, so people can find you when they search for you. According to a study by BrightLocal, 93% of consumers used the internet to find a local business in the last year – underlining how important this is to local marketing.
  • Content Marketing: Create valuable content related to home construction and renovation and post it on your own website. This not only positions you as an expert for anyone looking at your services, but also increases visibility by improving your website’s SEO. You can even go as far as creating video or photo content for TikTok or Instagram.


Track Your Efforts And Iterate

At the end of the day you have no idea how your efforts are doing if you don’t track your data and record the results of your marketing efforts.

Use tools like Google Analytics to monitor your website traffic, social media insights to track engagement, and customer feedback – in the form of customer surveys after a completed job – to gauge satisfaction. According to a report by HubSpot, companies that track their inbound marketing see a 12% increase in conversion rates, really underlining the importance of seeing how your work is doing.

Even if it looks like your marketing efforts aren’t working at all, stay patient. In many cases it takes a long time for prospective customers to become real customers, up to months or even years in some cases, especially as contractors. 

And if you think something isn’t working, you can always iterate upon it. Sometimes it’s as simple as the image you are using for your ad, or the subject line of your email. Iteration is a great way to quickly and easily improve your marketing.