Monthly Archives: November 2023

The Best Ways To Generate Leads For Contractors

The biggest difficulty of being a construction contractor – and perhaps any profession – is to keep the work flowing in.

The nature of construction work means that finding and keeping customers is a constant battle of keeping up with new forms of finding new customers and balancing that against the time-intensive lead gen strategies of yore.

So how do contractors generate leads? What are the best ways to go about not only growing your list of leads but maintaining them over time?

Let’s take a look.

What is Lead Generation?

Lead generation involves identifying and cultivating potential customers for a business’s products or services. For contractors, this means finding individuals or businesses that are interested in whatever services you provide as a contractor. That can be anything from general contracting services to Class C services like plumbing or electrical work.

The goal is to capture high-quality leads – people who are actively searching for contractor services and convert them into customers via a network of marketing and sales tactics that make up your lead gen operations.

Why is Lead Generation Important for Construction Contracting Businesses?

Lead generation is vital for contractors as it helps build a steady pipeline of potential projects, ensures consistent work, and contributes to the continual growth of your contracting business. Without effective lead generation, contractors may struggle with irregular workloads and revenue streams, which has a knock-on effect throughout the entire business.

As a contractor, you need steady work to survive, and the only way to find steady work is through a robust, consistent lead generation program.

A good lead generation funnel is focused on building trust. Your goal is to signal to the customer that you are a trusted professional who will fulfill their needs with as little friction or fear as possible. Your objective as a contractor is to signal that you are not only capable of doing the job but doing it with the least amount of fuss.

With that in mind, lead generation is essentially a lockpicking operation. Your goal is to match the right key with the right lock – which means creating a broad network of tools to access the multitude of different customers contractors must serve.

For that reason, lead generation is all about diversity and consistency. It’s your objective as a contractor to give as many different people as many different ways of reaching your business as possible, as frequently as possible, over an extended period of time.

Let’s go into some ways to do that.

The Most Common Lead Generators For Contractors

There’s so many different ways to generate leads these days, that it’s hard to know which ones to focus on. We can always look to the industry for clues as to which are the best ways to approach customers.

Here are the most common ways that contractors find leads in 2023. These approaches serve as a valid blueprint for any contractor to grow their lead generation operations for their contracting business.

Digital Marketing For Contractors

  • SEO and Website Optimization: Ensuring your website is optimized for search engines is crucial as the most common way for people to find contractors is by searching “local _____ near me”. SEO allows them to find you, and an optimized website is the way to better SEO. Improving your SEO and website presence includes using relevant keywords, creating quality content, and ensuring your site is mobile-friendly, but can get as granular as you like. Hiring a professional to help with this can pay big dividends.
  • Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO): CRO is a huge part of converting cold leads into warm leads and warm leads into customers. A contractor can generate so many leads just by installing a lead generation tool on their website, where interest parties can sign up. Lead gen captures can increase visitor conversion by 20%, giving you essential information like email addresses and phone numbers that you can then follow up with to earn their business.
  • Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Advertising: PPC campaigns on search programs like Google allow contractors to target specific audiences, so you only pay for ads directed toward only people looking for your services in your area. Contractors who don’t advertise on Google and Bing are at a disadvantage.
  • Social Media Advertising: Many contractor customers go to Facebook to find recommendations for contractors. Like PPC advertising, paid social ads are targeted advertisements that can reach these potential leads where they’re actively looking for just your services.
  • Social Media Content Marketing: A great way to expand your marketing reach is content marketing. This involves sharing photo and video content online with people on Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok. These tools help in gaining organic reach within local areas by connecting you with cold leads who may need contracting work. However, these tools require strategic application to be effective, so hiring a professional like a marketing manager or social media manager who can handle the creation and deployment of content.
  • Website Content: Another place where you can gain a competitive edge over your competitors is to have content on your own website that can gain the trust of your audience. For example, tools like CompanyCam and ProjectMapIt allow contractors to share project updates and photos in real-time, turning existing customer relationships into lead-generation opportunities. Blogs and other pieces of expert content can establish your authority in your area of expertise and gain cold leads via SEO. The bottom line is consistent, valuable content on your website can be the type of unique, eye-catching marketing that can set you apart from your competitors.r
  • Facebook Groups: Active participation in relevant Facebook groups can generate leads by answering queries and subtly promoting services.
  • Webinars: Hosting informative webinars on relevant topics can attract interested homeowners and collect their contact details for follow-up.

In-Person and Physical Marketing For Contractors

  • Trade Shows and Networking Events: Participating in local trade shows and networking events can help you connect with potential clients and industry peers. This is where business cards and happy hours come in – so vendors and customers can come together to meet each others’ needs.
  • Direct Mail and Print Ads: Traditional advertising methods, such as direct mail campaigns and print ads in local publications, can effectively reach local audiences, although we’re seeing these wane in relevancy and value over time.

Referrals and Affiliate Programs For Contractors

  • Referral Programs: A referral program that rewards existing customers for bringing in new business is a hugely effective way to entice customers to pass on your name whenever they need work. Word of mouth is the most effective way to gain new business – so give your customers a way to reward you for your good work!
  • Discounts: Along the lines of a referral program, offering discounts to longtime customers can pay big dividends. Not only will they continue to come back to you for whatever specialty they’re in, but the special attention will encourage them to recommend your service to others.

Local Contractor Lead Gen Resources

  • Local Chambers of Commerce: Joining your local chamber can provide networking opportunities, enhance your business’s credibility, and offer access to business resources and professional development. As a construction contractor, this is a critical thing to do – everyone, in every industry, has a need for physical construction.
  • Community Involvement: Engaging in community projects or local sponsorships can increase your visibility and reputation within the community. One of the most common forms this takes is sponsors of local Little League baseball teams or other organizations tailored towards the community youth.

Overlooked Lead Generators For Construction Contractors

Now that you know the most common types of construction contractor lead generators, let’s take a look at some areas that many contracting businesses overlook. These are areas where you can gain an advantage over your less thorough competitors.

Email Marketing For Contractors

Building an email list is a powerful way to connect directly with potential leads by fostering a high-visibility, but highly-unintrusive relationship with a potential customer over a series of emails. Usually, these emails are acquired through website lead-gen, but can also be acquired locally via trade shows or local chambers of commerce meetings.

Here are some general tips about email marketing for contractors.

  • Segment Your List: Understand who your clients are, where they live, and their needs, then separate them out based on customer profiles. Age, income, and location can be key considerations for contractors.
  • Personalization: Customize email content to these individual demographics to increase engagement and open rates​​.
  • Creating Irresistible Offers: Include compelling offers like discounts or free resources to entice recipients. In the contracting world, these may be tips and tricks for house maintenance or things to worry about in the construction world.
  • Automate Your Emails: Most mail clients like Mailchimp or Klaviyo allow for constant automation – so you can generate leads without any effort from you.
  • Keep It Short And Simple: Keep all emails direct and to the point, covering one topic in a minimal amount of time and energy.

Door-to-Door Sales For Contractors

An often-overlooked and often-looked-down upon method to growing your contracting business, door-to-door sales can still be hugely effective, especially in older neighborhoods and especially for contractors working as B-2 Remodeling Contractors.

Door-to-door sales allow for personalized, customized contact with your potential customer. It also allows you to gain information about them, like their email or phone number or even their area of concern, so you can personalize your other marketing efforts towards them. Creating personalized emails or packages for each customer can improve your chances of landing them as a client.

It’s important to note if you are a salesperson selling Home Improvement services to homeowners in California, you need an HIS contractor’s license as per the Contractors State License Board.

Out Of Home (OOH) Marketing

One hugely effective way to reach cold customers as a contractor is Out Of Home(or OOH) Marketing. This type of marketing involves some physical material, like a billboard or a car wrap with your company’s logo, name, and number on it.

This is still an extremely effective way of reaching people in any business, but for local contracting businesses, it’s been shown to be incredibly powerful at gaining awareness for contractors.

Your average person, for example, simply doesn’t know any HVAC professionals in their area – but they’ll remember the one person whose name they saw on a billboard or that one eye-catching vehicle wrap.

It’s all about repetition and awareness in the construction industry, as most people are cold leads right up until their pipe bursts and they need a plumber. Out-of-home advertising is a highly valuable, highly efficient way to continually inform your future customers of who you are and what you do.

Know Your Niche As A Contractor

Perhaps the most important aspect of ALL lead generation is to know where you’re positioned – and the opportunities that your position in the industry presents. It’s critical, before you even start on a comprehensive lead gen program, to know exactly what unique service you offer, and how you’re going to offer that service!

For example, if you’re a general contractor operating in Los Angeles, your lead generation will focus on bigger, more general projects, but even then, if you specialize in say, data centers vs. high-rise residential, you need to tailor your lead gen to where that audience gathers. On the other hand, if you’re a pool specialist in Anchorage, Alaska, your lead generation will look a little more specialized.

The important thing here is to focus your energies on what you do well, and what you do differently than your competitors – then work on making sure your audience knows exactly how you can deliver a better final result than your competitors. Tailoring your lead generation strategies to your niche is extremely important in reaching the right audience and generating quality leads​​.

The Bottom Line

When it comes to lead generation, contractors must keep up with technology or get left behind – but that doesn’t mean the old-fashioned, tried-and-true methods are no longer effective.

The bottom line is that a comprehensive blend of all the lead generation tools available is the best strategy for construction contractors. The name of the game is reach and repetition; by employing a variety of different lead generation channels, and tailoring the approach to each unique audience, contractors can see a gigantic return on their investment in the short and long term.

Do You Need a Contractor License to Pour Concrete in California?

Whether you’re a homeowner aiming to pour a little sidewalk for your front yard, or a journeyman or apprentice concrete pourer thinking of striking out on your own, making sure your concrete project is legal and safe should be the number one priority on your checklist.

Before you even think about pouring a single drop of concrete; before you even think about digging a ditch, it’s critical that you ensure you’re doing everything by the book – as the punishments for running afoul of the law are significant.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at whether or not you need a license to pour concrete In California.

When Is a Contractor’s License Required?

Let’s get this out of the way at the top: a Contractor’s State Licensing Board (CSLB) license is required for any – that’s right, any – construction job that involves over $500 worth of labor and materials

A contractor’s license is generally required for any significant construction or renovation project beyond basic maintenance or “one-trip” jobs.

The majority of states have some form of state licensing program for general contractors, with the rules, fees, and requirements varying considerably. For instance, in Alabama, a license is needed for commercial, industrial, and residential work involving construction, alteration, or demolition of structures. As we’ve noted, in California, any work over $500 requires a license.

Types of Projects With and Without a Contractor’s License

In almost every state in the nation, but especially in California, you need a contractor’s license to perform high-level construction work. It makes sense: people should feel safe living and working in buildings, without the fear that they’ll collapse due to shoddy workmanship.

Contractors’ licenses, like the CSLB contractor license, ensure that construction professionals have the knowledge, experience, and ability to deliver safe and responsible construction services to the general public, with the power to enforce consequences of fines and even jail time!

With that said, there are still many jobs one can perform without a contractor’s license, including most small-scale concrete work. Here are the general types of jobs one can do with and without a contractor’s license, generally speaking.

  • With a Contractor’s License:
    • Large-scale construction projects (anything requiring trade work or subcontractors would fall under this category)
    • Structural renovations
    • Electrical, plumbing, or HVAC work
    • Projects that require permits (generally, there are, of course, exceptions)
  • Without a Contractor’s License:
    • Minor repairs and maintenance
    • Cosmetic upgrades
    • Simple installations like shelving
    • Small concrete jobs, like repairing a walkway

In some states, like Nevada, contractors need a Concrete License for any concrete work. This contrasts with states like Idaho and Illinois, where general contractors may only need to register without specific licensing requirements.

Hiring a Contractor for Concrete Work in California

For significant concrete work, such as pouring foundations, driveways, or large patios, California law requires hiring a licensed contractor. These projects demand expertise in California-specific building practices, adherence to safety standards, and an understanding of local environmental conditions.

The decision to hire a contractor for concrete work in California should be based on the project’s complexity and the homeowner’s expertise:

  • When to Hire a Contractor: For substantial projects like laying a new foundation, building a large patio, or any work that could affect the property’s structural integrity, you need to hire a licensed contractor or become licensed yourself. Considering most of these are projects involving more than $500, you are legally mandated to hire a contractor or to be one yourself.
  • Risks of DIY: While DIY might be tempting for smaller projects, improper execution can lead to long-term issues, from poor drainage to structural weaknesses. For any project over $500 or requiring specialized knowledge, hiring a licensed professional is the safest bet.

DIY Concrete Projects in California

California homeowners can engage in small-scale concrete projects, but they must be aware of local regulations and permit requirements. For non-structural work not exceeding $500, homeowners may not need a contractor’s license.

In California, platforms, walkways, and driveways not exceeding 30 inches above grade and not over any basement or story below do not require a building permit. However, for larger or structural projects, permits and a licensed contractor are required.

Pouring Concrete on Private Property in California

In California, pouring concrete on your own property generally doesn’t require a contractor’s license for non-commercial, small-scale projects. However, as we’ve covered, structural or larger projects like driveways, foundations, and the like do. In addition, local building codes and permit requirements must be followed, especially for more extensive projects.

When it comes to pouring concrete on your own property in California, the need for a permit is dictated by the scope and scale of the project:

  • You Don’t Need A License To Pour Concrete For: Smaller projects like a garden pathway or a minor driveway repair, you usually don’t need a permit if the work does not alter the overall structure or safety of the property.
  • You Need A License For: For more extensive projects, such as building a new driveway with significant elevation changes, a permit is generally required to ensure compliance with local building codes. This is particularly important in areas prone to environmental issues like flooding or earthquakes.
  • Any Job Over $500 Requires A Contractors License: As we stated at the very beginning of this article, any construction job over $500 requires a CSLB license in California.

With all that covered, let’s take a look at exactly the type of license needed to pour concrete on jobs over $500 in California.

The California C-8 Concrete Contractor License

In California, the specific license required to perform concrete work is the C-8 Concrete Contractor License.

The C-8 license encompasses a broad range of activities associated with concrete work, which include:

  • Forming, pouring, placing, and finishing specified mass, pavement, flat, and other concrete work.
  • Setting screeds for pavements or flatwork.
  • Tasks such as demolition, excavation, measurement, mixing mortar, constructing retaining walls, foundations, slab work, post-tensioning work, and curing concrete.
  • The license does not cover work that is primarily related to plaster coatings or the placement and erection of steel bars for reinforcing concrete structures.

General Contractors and Concrete Work in California

What if you’re a general contractor? Can a general contractor do concrete work on the job site you’re overseeing?

And what if you’re a homeowner? Can you simply hire a general contractor to do the concrete work?

The answer is, as always, it depends. Here’s a breakdown.

When Can A Class B General Contractor Can Do Concrete Work?

  • Minor Concrete Projects: Class B General Contractors in California can perform minor concrete work such as small repairs or laying a patio or walkway. This is applicable as long as the project is within the scope of general building work.
  • Part of Larger Projects: If concrete work is a component of a larger building project, like constructing a residential home or a commercial building, a Class B General Contractor can oversee and perform the concrete-related tasks.
  • Non-Specialized Work: For standard concrete work that doesn’t require specialized skills or advanced techniques (like basic foundations, standard driveways, and sidewalks), a Class B General Contractor is qualified to manage and execute the task.

When Is A C-8 Concrete Contractor License Required To Pour Concrete?

  • Specialized Concrete Projects: For projects that require specialized concrete work, such as high-strength structural concrete or intricate decorative concrete, a Class C Concrete (C-8) License may be necessary. These projects often demand specific expertise and techniques beyond the scope of general building work.
  • Independent Concrete Contracting: If a general contractor wishes to operate independently as a concrete contractor, bidding on and executing concrete projects exclusively, a Class C Concrete License is required. This license ensures that the contractor possesses the specialized knowledge and experience needed for advanced concrete work.
  • Large-Scale, Complex Projects: For large-scale projects that involve complex structural elements or unique construction methods involving concrete, a specialized concrete contractor with a Class C License is typically needed. This includes projects like multi-story buildings where concrete is a primary structural component.


As is often the case with these situations, what kinds of jobs a general contractor or homeowner can do on their own property or job site varies and depends on various different factors.

In general, you need a C-8 Contractor License if you’re doing any sort of concrete work. Any concrete job that requires more than $500 in materials automatically requires a licensed C-8 contractor to perform the job, unless it’s a general contractor performing the work themselves on their own job site.

If it’s a small project as a homeowner, like a small path, then you most likely can do it by yourself. Just make sure you’re staying within your local codes and guidelines.

Can a General Contractor Close Access to the Owner on a Construction Jobsite?

As a general contractor, you spend more time putting out fires than pretty much anything else.

It’s not a problem – most general contractors are natural problem-solvers and improvisers by nature, so we’re not shy when it comes to overcoming obstacles, even when those problems are people.

Dealing with subcontractors, haggling with suppliers, overseeing administrative teams, and interfacing with stakeholders – general contractors are constantly dealing with the expectations and demands of various groups of people, all with drastically different needs.

Usually, gen cons can handle these problems, as we’re the captains of the ship, and everyone answers to us. But what about those exceedingly rare situations where the client is the problem?

What do you do, as a general contractor, when the client themselves is causing you problems?

As a GC, you often have to solve problems with people by cutting ties with them and getting them away from the job site. But what can you do about an overreaching owner? Or worse, an owner who is putting your team in danger?

In some cases, you simply cannot do anything but ban the owner’s access to their own property while you do the things you need to do as a general contractor. Let’s learn more about this unique situation.

General Contractors and Owner Access: The Big Picture

To be entirely honest, understanding the legal intricacies of owner-contractor rights is a nigh-impossible task for construction professionals. After all, we’re here to build things – you wouldn’t hire a lawyer to install a toilet!

We could talk until we’re blue in the face about who has access to what and when, but the stark reality is that what’s legal in one place could be illegal in another across the giant geography that is the United States.

Instead of trying to get granular, we’re going to cover some of the main legal areas of importance governing owner access – and the rights of general contractors when it comes to denying access to owners. These legal goalposts serve as the federal frameworks around which localities and states build their own rules and regulations.

  • Implied Obligation of Access: On the client side, there is an inherent obligation for property owners to provide contractors with adequate access to the construction site. This access is necessary for contractors to perform their work under the contract. The level of access required depends on the nature of the work, and as its name suggests, is implied in the contract, not expressly written.
    • Example: A simple example of this is for a residential building where the owner must allow the contractor to access the entire site for excavation and foundation work.
  • Owner’s Responsibility: Property owners must not only provide access but also ensure it is unobstructed for contractors. Any limitations on the contractor’s access must be explicitly stated in the contract. If an owner restricts access without a contractual basis, they risk breaching their obligations and may become liable for additional costs or losses incurred by the contractor​​​.
    • Example: A property owner restricts site access due to financial issues on the client side, but fails to specify this in the contract. This could result in the general contractor suing the property owner for losses.
  • Contractor’s Right To Work Without Interference: Contractors have the right to carry out work without interference from the property owner. This right is fundamental to construction contracts, and courts have shown a willingness to provide remedies for losses resulting from infringements of these rights​.
    • Example: A contractor may file a lawsuit against a property owner for repeatedly interrupting the work schedule, which infringes on the contractor’s right to work without interference.
  • Risk Allocation in Contracts: Construction contracts typically include provisions for risk distribution. These provisions aim to balance the responsibilities and liabilities between the owner and the contractor, so both parties can move forward in good faith. While specific clauses may attempt to shift responsibilities, the law generally imposes implied warranties and duties on both parties​.
    • Example: A contract outlining a high-rise commercial project might have 20-30 pages of risk allocation documents, specifically detailing the amount and type of risk allocated to both client and contractor. These documents can contain scenarios as wild as blizzard and tornado damage.
  • Cooperation and Non-Interference: Both the owner and the contractor are generally understood to have an implied duty to cooperate and not to impede or interfere with each other’s work. This mutual obligation is crucial for the successful completion of the project, though its application often depends on the individuals involved​.
    • Example: A common issue here is a failure on the client’s end to handle certain things like permits or materials. In many residential situations, it’s on the homeowner or landowner to get the necessary building permits.

When Can A General Contractor Close A Site To The Owner?

There are very few situations where general contractors can close access to the landowner, and even then, it is because they are being ordered to close the site as per regulations or regulatory bodies themselves.

The situations where you are allowed to close access to an owner as a general contractor are the extreme situations you would expect – issues with health and safety, explicit contractual orders, or legal compulsion either by law or law enforcement.

General Contractors Can Close Access To Owners If:

  • Safety Concerns: If there are imminent safety risks on the site, contractors can restrict access to ensure safety protocols are followed.
  • Contractual Provisions: If the contract explicitly allows the contractor to control site access during certain project phases.
  • Legal Orders: In cases where a legal authority or court order restricts access due to external factors like public safety or legal disputes.

General Contractors Cannot Close Access If:

  • No Contractual Basis: If the contract does not explicitly give the contractor the authority to restrict access, they cannot restrict access.
  • Owner’s Legal Rights: When the owner has legal rights to access the site for inspections, monitoring progress, or other purposes outlined in the law or contract.
  • Pretty Much Every Situation: If you are considering any restriction that is not based on safety, legal, or contractual reasons – assume you cannot restrict an owner’s access.


The answer to the question: “When can a general contractor close access to the owner?” is rather simple – you usually can’t.

Owners are owners for a reason. It’s their property, so it makes no sense that a contractor would be able to refuse access to them.

Except for rare circumstances – or if it’s outlined in the contract – general contractors should act with the assumption that they cannot prevent owners from accessing their site. The only time you can really prevent an owner from accessing their property is in extreme circumstances – health and safety issues or situations where law enforcement is forcing you to shut the site down.

CSLB Application Fees 2023: A Comprehensive Guide

The Contractors State License Board (CSLB) in California manages the licensing of contractors within the state. A critical aspect of this process involves understanding the various fees associated with obtaining and maintaining a contractor’s license.

In 2023, the CSLB has a specific fee structure that applicants and current licensees must be aware of. This guide aims to provide detailed insight into these fees, so contractors can be effective as they plan their future contracting endeavors.

Understanding CSLB Application Fees

What Is The CSLB?

The CSLB is a governmental organization responsible for the licensing and regulation of California’s construction industry by establishing and enforcing the rules around legal construction work.

The CSLB’s main priority is physical and financial safety for the end customer. They accomplish this via their licensing powers, which ensure that only construction contractors who have been verified and licensed by the state of California are allowed to work on construction jobs.

While the CSLB doesn’t technically enforce the rules it lays out – that’s for SWIFT, local authorities, and ultimately, the legal system to handle – it handles every other aspect of contractor laws in California, from setting the legal requirements to becoming a contractor to enshrining the financial and legal penalties for people who run afoul of the law.

Types of CSLB Fees

If you’re applying to become a contractor for the first time in California, buckle up – because the CSLB charges tons of fees. Some would say too many fees (not us, but somebody!).

The CSLB charges fees for everything – applications, renewals, name changes, exams, everything. If there’s any effort at all required by the CSLB, they will charge for it.

All that to say – when you’re applying for a contractor license, or renewing it, or doing anything, expect to spend a good wedge on just fees alone. In the next section, we’ll cover all of those fees in total.

CSLB License Application Fees

Initial Application Fee

  • Fee: $450
  • Description: This fee is for processing a new license application for one singular classification, whether by examination or waiver.
  • Does not include renewals, which have a separate renewal fee. You aren’t charged twice for these. You are only charged an initial application fee for a new application.

Additional Classification Fee

  • Fee: $230 (for existing license); $150 (for new applications)
  • Description: This is the fee for adding an additional classification to an existing license or during the initial application.
  • For example, if you’re a Class B General Contractor holder but want to do your own HVAC work, you’d have to pay this fee to apply for a C-20 license.

CSLB Examination Fees

In order to get your CSLB license, you must pass the CSLB examination. This exam is notoriously difficult for even the most seasoned construction workers, with two separate sections – the Law and Business exam and the Trade exam, which cover general business and law knowledge and trade-specific expertise, respectively.

Luckily, there are no additional fees for the exam – the cost of taking the CSLB exam is included in your application fee.

However, if you fail the exam and have to retake it, there is a $100 fee attached for any examination work.

CSLB Initial Licensing Fees

Initial licensing fees are only applied to new licenses and are only paid once by an individual or corporation for the specific classification they are applying for.

These fees vary and are based on the business structure of the applicant. See our article on Contractor Business Structures for more information.

Licensing Fee for Sole Ownership

  • Fee: $200
  • Description: This is the licensing fee paid by contractor businesses with a sole proprietorship ownership structure upon passing the examination.
  • This fee is paid upon completion of the examination and is one of the last fees you need to pay to get your license.

Licensing Fee for Non-Sole Owners

  • Fee: $350
  • Description: Like the sole ownership fee, this fee is paid upon completion of your examination.
  • This fee is paid upon completion of the examination and is one of the last fees you need to pay to get your license.

CSLB License Renewal Fees

Renewal fees, as the name implies, are the fees required to renew a license. All CSLB licenses must be renewed yearly, so these fees go for both expired licenses and valid licenses – it all depends on the status of your license.

Active License Renewal Fee

  • Fee: $450 for sole owners, $700 for non-sole owners (C-10 contractors will be charged an additional $20)
  • Description: For active license renewals, the fee varies slightly for different types of ownership. It’s $700 for corporations and partnerships, and $450 for sole proprietorships.

Inactive License Renewal Fee

  • Fee: $300 for sole owners, $500 for non-sole owners
  • Description: This fee is lower than active license renewals as it seeks to encourage lapsed license holders to become licensed again. Like the active license renewal fee, this fee is more expensive for partnerships and corporations.

Other Fees

Now that the main application and renewal fees are out of the way, it’s time to go further into the various piecemeal fees.

Home Improvement Salesperson Registration

  • Fee: $200 for application, $200 for timely renewal, and $300 for delinquent renewal
  • Description: This unique fee is applicable only to Home Improvement Salespeople (HIS). This is the only contractor’s license that doesn’t allow the owner to perform any real construction work. This license only allows you to sell services performed by others.

Background Check, Live Scan, and Fingerprinting Fees

  • Dept. of Justice Processing Fee: $32
  • Federal Bureau of Investigation Processing Fee: $17
  • Live Scan Rolling Fees: Varies, but roughly $40
  • Description: All applicants must go through a State and Federal background check. Involved in this process are fees charged by the DOJ and FBI. The Live Scan fee varies based on the location of the applicant, but it’s usually around $40. Check the Live Scan website for more details.

Delinquency Fee

  • Fee: $675 for sole owners, $1,050 for non-sole owners (C-10 contractors will be charged an additional $20)
  • Description: These exorbitant – in our opinion, excessive – fees are charged on renewals that are submitted after the license in question has expired. It’s basically a penalty for not renewing on time.
  • It’s important to note that these fees are not charged on top of the renewal fee for the license, but rather replace them, so you don’t pay this in addition to the renewal fee.

Miscellaneous Fees

These are miscellaneous fees that may or may not apply to your situation and needs.

  • Duplicate/Replacement Pocket/Wall Certificates: $25
  • Business Name Change: $100
  • Certified License History: $67 per name researched
  • General Status Letter: $8
  • Bond Status Letter: $8
  • Copies of Public Documents: $0.10 per page
  • Certified Copies of Public Documents: $2 plus $0.10 per page

Payment Methods and Processing

  • Accepted Payment Methods
  • CSLB accepts checks, money orders, and credit cards. Detailed payment methods can be found on the CSLB website.

Processing Time

  • Processing times vary, especially during times of high volume. We always recommend submitting applications and renewals well in advance of deadlines to avoid any issues.

So… How Much Does It Cost To Get Your CSLB Contractor License?

So, how much can I expect to pay to get my CSLB contractor’s license?

The answer is – it varies. It all depends on what kind of license you need, the status of your license, whether it’s your first license or you’re renewing it, whether your license is expired, and so on.

There’s so many variables to getting your license, and every situation is different. However, here is the general total of the basic fees anyone needs to get their contractor license in California.

Total Estimated Cost of Fees for a New CSLB License

For a Sole Owner:

Application Fee: $450
Initial License Fee: $200
Fingerprinting (DOJ and FBI): $80

Total Fees For Sole Proprietors: $740

For a Corporation or Partnership (or any business structure that involves more than one person):

Application Fee: $450
Initial License Fee: $350
Fingerprinting (DOJ and FBI): $80 (excluding rolling fees)

Total Fees For Corporations Or Partnerships: $900


The most important skill for a California construction contractor is planning. You need to plan your life in advance – doing your apprenticeship work, gaining work experience in your trade, getting your license and ultimately building a successful business all require and understanding of your situation and the career you want.

Don’t overlook fees when planning your future as a CSLB-licensed contractor. These small amounts can really add up quickly – and if you don’t effectively plan not only the cost of these fees but the times that you pay them, you can end up spending far more money than you initially planned.

C-2 Insulation and Acoustic Contractors License: The Complete Guide

Thinking of going into the insulation business? Apprentice insulation professional looking to make the jump and start your own business? Spot a gap and want to corner your area’s soundproofing market?

You’ve come to the right place. This guide provides in-depth information on what a C-2 contractor does, the job types they handle, job examples, limitations, and success strategies, drawing from a range of sources for the most comprehensive overview.

What is A C-2 Insulation and Acoustical Contractor?

A C-2 Insulation and Acoustical Contractor is a specialist who installs insulating media and performs architectural acoustical material for temperature and sound control.

A C-2 contractor handles anything to do with insulation – installing, removing, adjusting, and so on. As the license itself says, this license covers all types of insulation, whether thermal or acoustical.

C-2 contractors usually work on residential installs, but they also find a lot of work in office buildings, working on constructing ceilings for giant offices and data centers. A big niche that falls under this category is soundproofing: an area that has become more and more important as modern life has become louder and more intense than ever – creating a need for builders to soundproof their assets to stay competitive.

Types of Jobs for C-2 Contractors

C-2 Contractors do a number of different roles, many specialized, and many general. The common thread amongst all jobs is they require some structural understanding, along with the obvious insulation and acoustical expertise required.

  • Soundproofing Contractors
  • Ceiling Contractors
  • Insulation Specialists
  • Home Insulation Contractors

Whether you’re installing insulation or soundproofing, you need this license. You can also operate a business that provides both services under the same license – a way to double or triple your income.

Typical C-2 Contractor Jobs

The C-2 license is one of the broadest, most flexible Class C contractor licenses out there. Every house needs insulation, especially in the infernal California heat – but the scope of the C-2 license goes much further than that.

Here are some of the most common jobs a C-2 Contractor does.

  • Suspended Acoustical Ceilings: Implementing overhead sound control systems in buildings.
  • Specialty Ceilings: Designing and installing unique ceiling types for aesthetic and functional purposes.
  • Demountable Partitions: Building modular partitions that can be easily moved or reconfigured.
  • Sound Absorption Insulation: Installing materials specifically designed to absorb and reduce noise.
  • Commercial Insulation: Implementing insulation solutions in commercial buildings for energy efficiency and sound control.
  • Residential Insulation Installations: Providing insulation in homes to improve thermal efficiency and reduce noise.
  • Grid Ceiling Systems: Setting up grid-based ceiling frameworks, often for drop ceilings. Ubiquitous in office parks and data centers.
  • Scaffolds and Ladders for Access: Setting up temporary structures for access to high or difficult-to-reach areas during installation.
  • Air Filtration Prevention: Ensuring buildings are airtight to enhance energy efficiency and control sound transmission.
  • Pipes and Ductwork Insulation: Some C-2 contractors work with HVAC contractors to insulate piping and HVAC ducts to reduce energy loss and noise.

Duties of a C-2 Contractor

What duties does a C-2 contractor have on-site? Here are some of the daily tasks you can expect to be doing as a C-2 contractor.

  • Installing various ceiling systems and insulation boards.
  • Batt, rigid board, and radiant barrier applications.
  • Building sealing for air filtration prevention.
  • Soundproofing and Weatherstripping.
  • Safe job site maintenance
  • Project estimation and financial management​​
  • Customer service

Limitations of C-2 Contractor Work

A C-2 Insulation and Acoustical contractor is legally restricted from bidding on projects outside their specialization, ensuring a focused and expert approach to their field of work​​.

Unless you’re a Class B General Contractor, you can’t perform any jobs outside of insulation or acoustical work without facing legal and potentially criminal penalties via the CSLB.

7 Steps To Success as a C-2 Contractor

How do you set yourself up for success as a C-2 contractor? Here’s some of the fundamentals of growing and maintaining a successful contracting business in the insulation and acoustical industries.

  • Conduct Market Research: You need to do your research when it comes to launching an insulation or acoustical business. Without a basic understanding of your local market, you have no chance of succeeding.
  • Establish a Business Niche: Once you’ve done your research, you can find the opportunities in your area. Find a service with few competitors that you can provide better than anyone else – and make it your specialty.
  • Set Up a Pricing Strategy: Your pricing should cover all costs while being competitive. You’ve already done your research so you should know what this price is, compared against others in your area.
  • Get Your CSLB License and Register Your Business With The S.O.S.: Register your business with the California Secretary of State and obtain the necessary C-2 license. It’s best to work with an attorney to ensure proper paperwork and compliance with state requirements​.
  • Start Marketing: A contractor that isn’t marketing is a contractor who is losing business. Invest in some money towards ads, SEO, and physical marketing – paying an expert to do this will pay off huge dividends.
  • Provide Exceptional Service: The absolute best thing you can do is to provide the best service in the area. If you leave your customers happy, they will be ecstatic and recommend you to others, both in-person and online.
  • Stay Up-to-Date on Industry Trends: Keep abreast of industry trends, especially in energy efficiency. This will help you stay competitive and offer the most current solutions to your clients, while also ensuring you stay compliant with California laws.

How To Get Your C-2 License

In order to get your CSLB C-2 License, you need to fulfill certain requirements. Once you meet all of these, getting your license is easy. Simply apply for your license, pass the exam, provide insurance, and – boom! – you’re a C-2 contractor!

  • Experience: A minimum of four years in the insulation and acoustical field.
  • Qualifying Individual: A manager with four years of relevant experience and a valid C-2 license who can vouch for your experience.
  • Application Submission: Providing detailed work and personal background information to the CSLB.
  • Pass the CSLB Exam: Pass both the Law and Business Examination and the Trade Examination.
  • Pass A Background Check: A comprehensive criminal background check.
  • Obtain And Show Proof of Bonds and Insurance: Obtaining a contractor’s license bond and adequate liability insurance. Note that insurance requirements have changed for California contractors in 2023!
  • Pay Fees: Pay the associated fees to the CSLB.


The C-2 Insulation and Acoustic Contractors License is an often-overlooked option for young people who want to get into construction. Considering how important insulation is – and will only continue to be – in our sun-baked state, there’s never any shortage of jobs for people who can provide good insulation services.

If you do your research, put in the hours, and market yourself well, there’s no reason you can’t be a huge success as a C-2 insulation contractor.

Can a Contractor Put A Lien On My House?

Most people who own their own homes – and thereby, have to hire contractors to build, fix, or otherwise modify their properties – have absolutely no issues with their contractors. Most contractors are trusted professionals in their fields and have no intention of delivering anything less than what they’ve agreed to in the contract.

But there are always exceptions. Especially in states that don’t require contractors to be licensed, or are lacking in general oversight, there are definitely a share of contractors who have less-than-honorable intentions with taking on your job.

In situations where there’s a dispute over the work done (or not done) and the payment for said work, the idea of a mechanics lien often comes up in the conversation. You may have heard someone say: “they can put a mechanics lien on your house” in case of nonpayment for contracting services.

Is that true? Can any contractor put a lien on your house in the case of a pay dispute? And if so, what are the consequences of having a lien put on your home?

Let’s find out.

Mechanics Liens: An Overview

So what is a mechanic’s lien?

According to the CSLB, a mechanics lien is a “‘hold’ against your property, filed by an unpaid contractor, subcontractor, laborer, or material supplier, and is recorded with the county recorder’s office. If unpaid, it allows a foreclosure action, forcing the sale of the property in lieu of compensation.”

In simpler terms, a mechanics lien is a legal claim made by contractors, subcontractors, laborers, and material suppliers against a property when they haven’t been paid for their services or supplier. This is a recourse for anyone in the construction industry to receive payment for services rendered, but not given.

If you’re a contractor, you know you’re often paying out of pocket for materials and other supplies – which you then recoup when you are paid for the work done. A mechanics lien is a way to make sure that you aren’t out whatever you spent to get the job done in case of non-payment.

The mechanic’s lien is a legal measure that ensures construction professionals receive their due compensation for the work done or materials provided. It serves as a safety net for every person in the construction industry, ensuring that hard work (and all the costs associated with it) doesn’t go unpaid.

Who Can File a Mechanic’s Lien?

In California, basically, anyone involved in a construction project can file a mechanics lien in the case of non-payment.

This includes general contractors, subcontractors, laborers, and material suppliers. If you’re a general contractor and you don’t get paid by the client – you can file a lien. If you’re a roofer who did one day of work on a job, were paid, but less than the amount in the contract – you can file a lien.

However, all of these different roles and situations have different rules and procedures for filing a mechanics lien. It’s not a one-size-fits-all process, and understanding the nuances can be crucial in ensuring the lien is filed correctly and effectively.

How To File A Mechanic’s Lien

Step 1: Send A Preliminary 20-Day Notice

Before a mechanics lien can be filed, the first step is to serve a Notice of Right to Liens, often referred to as the Preliminary 20-Day Notice.

This notice must be served within 20 days of starting work or supplying materials to the project, whichever. If you miss the 20-day window, you can still serve the notice to recoup the costs of the project – but only money earned within the previous 20 days can be included in the lien.

That means if you only worked one day, but you let the 20-day window expire, you’re out of luck. If you worked, say, 5 days on a job, and you filed 21 days after the start, you’d only be entitled to 4 days of work – that first day’s wages are now unretrievable as you missed the 20-day window.

This step is crucial as it sets the stage for the filing of the lien and informs all parties involved of the potential claim. You should be filing this notice on every job, just to be safe. MAKE SURE that you file it before the 20-day deadline is up, as you will be unable to recoup any money spent after that time frame.

Step 2: File The Mechanic’s Lien

Once the Preliminary 20-Day Notice has been served, the next step is to file the mechanics lien. In many cases, you’ll never even have to do this, but everyone gets done over once by some unscrupulous construction “professional” at some point.

In California, you have 90 days from the last day you performed work or provided goods on the project to file your mechanics lien. This is different from the 20-day Notice, of course – which is a warning that you could file a lien if you’re not paid.

Now, you’re not being paid, and you have up to 3 months to file a mechanics lien to get repaid. If you let this time go by without filing a mechanics lien, the party that owes you money for your work and supplies is no longer legally liable to pay you.

Notice of Completion Or Cessation: 60 Days To File

One important exception to the 90-day window to file your mechanic’s lien for backpay or supplies is if the owner files a notice of completion or cessation, indicating the project has stopped.

In case of a filing of a notice of completion or cessation, you only have 60 days from the filing of that notice to file your lien. You will see this often on projects with tenuous funding or in times of upheaval. Make sure you’re paying attention to the people who owe you money, and get that mechanic’s lien filed ASAP.

Every day you wait is you potentially losing money you’re owed!

Step 3: The Chips Fall

Once a mechanics lien has been filed, then the pain begins. For the homeowner, at least.

Any homeowner who has a mechanics lien filed against them will have their property immediately impacted. In some cases, they may have their home foreclosed to recoup the payments. In other scenarios, a homeowner may be forced to pay twice the original amount.

At any rate, a homeowner with a lien against their home will have a very difficult time selling, refinancing, or doing many things that property owners need to do. Basically, a lien on someone’s home makes it extremely difficult to do anything substantial with that home – until the lien is cleared.

Once the homeowner completes the lien and pays the outstanding balance, the lien is quickly dropped and both the homeowner and the contractor can continue on with their lives. As you can imagine, this process is good for no one in the process – and ultimately it may feel like a Pyrrhic victory, having had to deal with months of back and forth and legal work.

The Importance Of Following Through

Even if you don’t plan to foreclose on the lien, it’s best to go through the entire procedure of filing a mechanics lien on every project. It’s important that you make the mechanics lien an essential part of your business, as it only serves to protect you and your company.

If payment discussions break down or your customer appears headed toward insolvency, your diligence will have made it possible for you to foreclose on the lien and retrieve any funds that you’ve invested. There really is absolutely no reason for you not to be on top of this, personally and with anyone working under you.

In the case of non-payment, if you don’t have a mechanics lien, things get A LOT more difficult if you want to get your money. Considering how easy the process is, there’s absolutely no excuse to not follow this entire process for every job you take on.

In any situation, whether you’re the homeowner or the contractor, it’s important to contact a legal professional to handle these complicated situations. A lawyer can be an invaluable resource when it comes to properly navigating the complex and labyrinthine American legal system.

The key takeaway from all of this is to do your diligence ahead of time – and you’ll always be prepared when the worst happens.

Additional Reading

CSLB – Preventing Mechanics Liens (great source of nitty-gritty information!)
CSLB – Understanding Mechanics Liens

What Jobs Can A General Contractor Do In California?

With over 100,000 license holders in California, Class B General Contractors make up the majority of construction professionals in the state.

As masters of the basics of construction, general contractors know the fundamentals of every aspect of building – and are responsible for making sure the project comes out the way it’s supposed to.

What Kind Of Jobs Can You Take As A General Contractor: A General Overview

In…general…a general contractor can do a wide variety of construction-related tasks, but usually related only to the fundamental and structural aspects of the building.

They’re allowed to take on structural tasks like framing or carpentry jobs, where that’s all they’re hired to do. Once it goes beyond that, they need to subcontract.

While general contractors can do framing and carpentry, they are restricted from doing additional work on their job sites, unless they have the necessary Class C license to perform the work. Jobs like plumbing and electrical are accessible only to those license holders.

In addition to these general rules, there’s also a patchwork of specific bylaws and regulations as to what types of jobs they can do additional work on, which jobs they can’t, what types of trades they can perform, how many, and so on.

What Does The CSLB Say?

When it comes to ensuring your work as a general contractor is legally compliant and totally above board, it’s important to always follow the CSLB codes and regulations to a T.

Here’s what the CSLB has to say when it comes to jobs Gen Cons can do:

“Business & Professions Code

Division 3, Chapter 9. Contractors, Article 4. Classifications 7057.

Except as provided in this section, a general building contractor is a contractor whose principal contracting business is in connection with any structure built, being built, or to be built, for the support, shelter, and enclosure of persons, animals, chattels, or movable property of any kind, requiring in its construction the use of at least two unrelated building trades or crafts, or to do or superintend the whole or any part thereof.

This does not include anyone who merely furnishes materials or supplies under Section 7045 without fabricating them into or consuming them in the performance of the work of the general building contractor.

(b) A general building contractor may take a prime contract or a subcontract for a framing or carpentry project. However, a general building contractor shall not take a prime contract for any project involving trades other than framing or carpentry unless the prime contract requires at least two unrelated building trades or crafts other than framing or carpentry, or unless the general building contractor holds the appropriate license classification or subcontracts with an appropriately licensed specialty contractor to perform the work. A general building contractor shall not take a subcontract involving trades other than framing or carpentry unless the subcontract requires at least two unrelated trades or crafts other than framing or carpentry, or unless the general building contractor holds the appropriate license classification. The general building contractor may not count framing or carpentry in calculating the two unrelated trades necessary in order for the general building contractor to be able to take a prime contract or subcontract for a project involving other trades.

(c) No general building contractor shall contract for any project that includes the “C-16” Fire Protection classification as provided for in Section 7026.12 or the “C-57” Well Drilling classification as provided for in Section 13750.5 of the Water Code, unless the general building contractor holds the specialty license, or subcontracts with the appropriately licensed specialty contractor.
(Amended by Stats. 1997, Chapter 812 (SB 857).”

So…What Types Of Jobs Can A General Contractor Perform?

Sometimes the CSLB can use language that makes your head spin. There’s a lot of legalese and specific, confusing language in there that can have general contractors wondering if they’re staying compliant. So what exactly are they saying here?

The long and short of it is, if you’re a general contractor, you can do framing and carpentry on any job that is framing or carpentry only. Any more than two trades, you gotta hire it out!

If you’re a general contractor with a Class C license, you can do any Class C work on your job.

Wrapping Up

If you’re a general contractor, chances are you’re probably not doing the work yourself. You’re already deeply familiar with your limitations and your expertise – and why get your hands dirty when you can just hire someone else to do the work for you?

When in doubt, though, follow these simple guidelines. General Contractors:

  • Can Perform Construction Work On Framing and Carpentry Jobs
    • General contractors can sign contracts and self-perform work that involves framing or carpentry projects.
    • There is an exception: you cannot do framing or carpentry work if the project involves two or more trades.
  • Can Engage In Licensed Trade Work
    • GCs can also engage in contracts for a single trade, but if they lack the necessary specialty classification for that trade, they are required to subcontract the work to a contractor with the appropriate classification.
    • This does not include carpentry or framing!
  • Can Undertake Multiple Unrelated Trades
    • A general contractor can enter contracts for two or more separate and unrelated trades and self-perform the work if they hold the correct license for each respective trade job.
    • Once again, framing and carpentry cannot be counted as one of the trades – they must be one of the other Class C Classifications!

Contractor Warranties: What California Contractors Need to Know

Implied, express, or contractual – warranties are a critical part of contract law that ALL California contractors need to know to be successful.

Sure, one can say “I’m a contractor and not a lawyer!” and while that’s true, it’s also essential that you understand the basics of a contract, to make sure you don’t get burned by sketchy subcontractors or ruthless clients – both of which want to get the most value for the least money.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at warranties for contractors – what they are, what they do, and why you need to know them to be successful as a California contractor.

What Is A Construction Warranty?

In California, a warranty is a legally enforceable assurance provided by a contractor to a client regarding the quality, functionality, and durability of the work delivered.

Warranties in the construction domain serve to uphold professional standards, protect consumer rights, and provide a framework for action and remuneration in case of construction defects or non-compliance with specified standards.

It serves as a pledge that the delivered project will adhere to the specified standards, and should any issues arise within a stipulated period post-completion, the contractor will rectify them at no additional cost to the client.

In legal terms, a warranty refers to a guarantee or promise enshrined within a contract, under which the contractor assures the quality, performance, or condition of a particular subject matter to the client. Warranties also stipulate the consequences of construction defects, legally outlining what a contractor must do in the case of a construction defect.

What Does A Construction Warranty Do?

Warranties, at their very basic level, are legal protections that protect both the contractor and the client by outlining all of the responsibilities of both parties – and the consequences for violating the terms both parties agreed upon.

  • Contractual Assurance: A warranty is a contractual assurance wherein the contractor guarantees the quality and compliance of the job. This could range from the materials used, the workmanship quality, to the project adhering to local building codes and regulations.
  • Binding Obligation: Once a warranty is stipulated within a contract, it becomes a binding obligation, enforceable in court. The contractor is now legally bound to honor the warranty, failing which could result in legal repercussions.
  • Remedial Action: The primary purpose of a warranty is to provide a remedial course of action in case the delivered work doesn’t meet the specified standards. Warranties exist to protect the client, by outlining the specific steps a contractor must take to fix a contractual violation.
  • Risk Allocation: On the flip side, warranties also protect contractors by defining the extent to which contractors are liable for defects or issues arising post-construction.

Types of Construction Warranties

  • Express Warranty: This is a clearly articulated assurance provided by the contractor regarding specific aspects of the construction project. This is essentially any warranty or guarantee a contractor puts in a contract. It specifically and granularly outlines the things they promise to deliver to the client and the timeframe they’ll fix any problems that crop up.
  • Implied Warranty: Unlike express warranties, implied warranties are not explicitly stated but are implied in the very nature of construction. By taking on any construction job, a contractor is tacitly agreeing to these warranties. There are two types of implied warranties in the United States.
    • Workmanship Warranty: guarantees that any construction project will be built in a good or workmanlike manner, free of major defects. This includes both labor and materials.
    • Warranty of Habitability: guarantees that any construction project will be suitable for the purpose they are intended for and be safe to live in.
  • Statutory Warranty: These are warranties determined by the state. Statutory warranties do one thing: they specifically outline the amount of time that contractors are liable for any construction defects.

Common Construction Warranties In California

Warranties in California cover a spectrum of durations and construction aspects, and they can vary from industry to industry and home to home. Here’s some of the main ones you’ll come across in your career as a California contractor.

General Warranties

  • Mandatory Warranties: Contractors in California are obligated to provide warranties on their work, such as a 4-year warranty on installed items, a one-year warranty on the fit and finish of certain areas, and a guarantee against defects in compliance with building codes and manufacturer requirements​.
  • State Law: Notable legal codes include California Civil Code 900, which requires one-year expressed limited warranties for both new construction and remodeling projects, and the Right to Repair Act (California Civil Code 896, et seq.), which includes implied warranties into the one-year warranty requirement.
  • One-Year Warranties: These short-term warranties cover aspects like “fit and finish” of certain elements, “manufactured products,” compliance with “interunit noise transmission standards,” and irrigation, drainage, and landscaping systems​.
  • Two to Five-Year Warranties: These cover medium-sized problems, like untreated wood posts, dryer ducts, plumbing, sewer, electrical systems, exterior pathways, and paint and stains causing deterioration​.
  • Ten-Year Warranties: Ten-year warranties are all about foundational and structural elements. Ten-year warranties ensure long-term accountability on the construction elements most critical to human safety.

Notable Court Cases Involving Warranties

When it comes to contractor contracts, looking to existing court cases is a good way to learn about the system, so you can prepare yourself for even the worst-case scenario.

1. Moore v. Teed

Moore v. Teed was an interesting case about contractual fraud and construction defects, with a big emphasis on the legal application of Business and Professions Code §7160. In the case, a homeowner was suing a contractor for damages because the contractor severely overpromised… and underdelivered to the tune of $300,000.

This ruling gives homeowners more leverage over contractors who promise the world and don’t deliver. In the case, the court ruled that homeowners are entitled to the “image that the contractor promised” when selling their services. In other words, a contractor is liable for the promise of the project made by the contractor and is due damages equal to the promise made to the client – whether it’s in writing or not.

2. Howard Contracting, Inc. v. G.A. Macdonald Construction Co., Inc.

This landmark case made it to the California Supreme Court and set a precedent that allows subcontractors to recover damages for cost overruns caused by delays and disruptions – even if there’s stipulations in the prime contract barring such claims.

The civil ruling changed things for both subcontractors and contractors in California by giving subcontractors the option to sue for – and receive – damages for any out-of-pocket costs or expense overruns caused by delays. The key thing is that even if the prime contract states the prime contractor isn’t liable for damages, they are still liable for damages.

3. Aas v. Superior Court Of California

In this massive 2000 ruling, the California Supreme Court delineated the boundaries of negligence claims in construction defects scenarios. The court ruled that homeowners could not recover damages for construction defects that hadn’t caused property damage. It seems obvious, but before then, there was no legal precedent protecting contractors against

This ruling set a significant precedent on the scope of liability for contractors and developers, finally establishing precedent that homeowners can’t sue contractors for damages related to construction defects…. without actually suffering damages related to construction defects.

It’s wild that we even have to type that…but here we are. Thanks to this court ruling, contractors and the state of California must have saved millions in legal fees from baseless lawsuits.

California Contractors: Get To Know Your Contracts!

As you can see from these court cases, it’s critical for any contractor to know what’s in their contracts – and what’s excluded from them. Any contractor who is too lazy to learn at least the basics of contract law is a contractor who will find themselves in trouble at some point down the road.

We hope this guide serves as a good jumping-off point for your contracting business – now’s the time for you to dig deeper into your own personal situation to make sure you’re covering all your bases and setting yourself up for success as a California contractor.

Additional Reading

California State Licensing Board
Levelset – Warranty requirements for contractors in California​
Esquire REB – New Construction Warranties Provided By California Law​
Valley Contractors Exchange – New Construction Warranties
Stone Sallus – Construction Defect Claims in California: Understanding Your Options​
FreeAdvice – California Contractor Warranty Form
Smith Currie – New California Construction Laws for 2023

How To Go From A Construction Manager To A Licensed Engineer

Construction management is a difficult, demanding profession – it involves long days at the job site in every weather imaginable, putting out fires from sun-up to sun-down (and often all the time in between!).

If you’re a construction manager yourself, you may be thinking: why not just become an engineer? In many cases, you already have 90% of the skills of an engineer; you just lack the mathematical education and skills and the licensing requirements to become an engineer – and enjoy the quality-of-life perks that come with it.

But becoming an engineer as a construction manager isn’t the most straightforward or easy path. It requires years of hard work and planning to fulfill that dream – but it’s not impossible! With that in mind, here’s our guide to the easiest way to become an engineer as a construction manager!

Understanding the Roles: Construction Manager vs. Engineer

Before diving into the transition process, it’s essential to understand the distinct roles of a construction manager and an engineer.

  • Construction Manager: Primarily responsible for overseeing the day-to-day operations of a construction site, ensuring that projects are completed on time, within budget, and adhering to set standards. Their education typically includes a degree in construction management, civil engineering, or construction science.
  • Engineer: These professionals design the initial planning and blueprints for construction projects and ensure that their directions are followed throughout the project by regularly communicating with construction managers and other stakeholders. Engineers usually work from an offsite main office, overseeing the broader aspects of planning a construction project1. Depending on the complexity of the project, engineers may have a smaller part of the process as the project progresses.

Practical Steps to Transition

Okay, so how do you transition into an engineering career as a construction manager? Well, get ready to go back to school, as you need to get a degree in engineering to get started! You need a bachelor’s degree to get any real job as an engineer on a construction project. This is obviously for safety reasons – engineers are responsible for ensuring the physical safety of their buildings.

A bachelor’s degree in engineering provides you with the comprehensive knowledge needed to operate as an engineer in the real world – ensuring construction projects are safe and within the boundaries of physical law. You learn everything from math to design – all critical skills for engineers.

  • Earn a Relevant Bachelor’s Degree: The first step to becoming a civil engineer is to earn a bachelor’s degree from a program that offers a construction engineering program. A good engineering program typically has accreditation from the Engineering Accreditation Commission of the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET).
  • Get A License: To practice as an engineer, you don’t technically need a license, but in reality, you do. If you’re a civil engineer, you must obtain a Professional Engineer (PE) license. Μuch like getting any other CSLB license, this includes four years of experience operating as a “journeyman” engineer under a licensed engineer. In addition to licenses for civil engineers, most states require specific licenses. All of these routes require you to pass engineering exams as well. The steps to licensing are:

In many cases, you have to apply for and receive a state license from your state. There may even be state and local requirements as well.

Skills Needed for Engineers

Transitioning to an engineering role requires a blend of technical and soft skills. Luckily, if you’re a construction manager, you have all the necessary soft skills needed, in addition to knowing the ins and outs of construction – something that gives you a huge advantage in understanding and communicating logistical realities to clients and higher-ups.

The key difference in skills needed is your engineering skills – the knowledge and understanding of the mathematics and physics needed to construct a building that is safe and fit for humans, meets local codes and bylaws, and may even need to be sustainably developed.

  • Total understanding and control of physics such as dynamics, mechanics, tension and more.
  • Strong mathematical skills such as calculus and geometry, with the ability to apply them.
  • Design skills such as blueprinting, conceiving, and sketching.
  • Proficiency with design and visualization programs like AutoCAD and TileFlow.
  • Programming skills to get maximum value from design tools such as SolidWorks and AutoCAD. In the electrical and mechanical engineering fields, specialized programming languages such as MATLAB and RAPID are often used.
  • Specialized construction knowledge of common high-use projects like roads, tunnels, bridges, and so on.
  • Ability to accurately estimate cost and communicate trade-offs when it comes to materials and design.
  • Knowledge of sustainable and energy-efficient materials and their properties with regard to construction.
  • Ability to effectively communicate the project to stakeholders.
  • A consistent ability to problem-solve real-world problems posed by the physical and material challenges of production.

Similarities and Differences Between Construction Managers and Engineers


  • Both roles are the backbone of the construction process. Without either of them, no building gets built.
  • Both demand a profound understanding of construction principles and practices, on both a macro- and micro-scopic level.
  • Effective and consistent communication is the key in both roles, especially when coordinating with other professionals and stakeholders.


  • Engineers have more stringent education and licensing prerequisites, with a stronger emphasis on the mathematics and physics of construction.
  • Engineers are involved early on in planning and design, well before anything is touched on a job site. Construction managers take the plan and make it happen – they are the day-to-day torchbearers on a job site.
  • Engineers are generally much more mathematical and “brainy” than construction managers, and their work is much less ambiguous than construction managers. CMs are constantly working with the human side and the day-to-day work, which means they’re doing less math and less time in an office chair.
  • Engineers may never step foot on a job site, often working from the comfort of an office. Construction managers are pretty much on the site from the beginning of the project all the way to the bitter end.

Engineering vs. Construction Management Salaries and Economic Impact

It may surprise you that, in general, it is more lucrative to be a construction manager than an engineer!

As of May 2022, the median annual wage for construction managers was $101,480. The employment of construction managers is projected to grow by 5% from 2022 to 2032, which is faster than the average growth rate for all occupations. This indicates approximately 38,700 job openings for construction managers each year over the decade.

On the flip side, civil engineers (the best representation of this diverse career) had a median annual wage of $89,940 in May 2022. The employment landscape for civil engineers is projected to burgeon by 5% from 2022 to 2032. This signifies about 21,200 openings for civil engineers each year, on average, over the decade.

However, it’s important to keep in mind that financial compensation is only one piece of the puzzle when deciding one’s career. A construction manager is often in the trenches with their team, dealing with rain, snow, wind, and all sorts of weather conditions, at all hours of the day, often working long days to make sure everything runs smoothly.

Engineers, on the other hand, are generally white-collar jobs. Engineers generally work regular hours from the comfort of an air-conditioned office. With a difference of ~$10k, it makes sense for a lot of seasoned CMs to want to change to something that’s a little less demanding. You may be one of these people!

Transitioning to a Licensed Engineer in California: The Golden State’s Path

As always, let’s take a look at the process for construction managers in California looking to change course and become an engineer in the Oldie Goldie State.

Steps to Become a Licensed Engineer in California:

Pre-Application Requirements:

  • Before applying for licensure, ensure you’ve passed the NCEES Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam and the Principles and Practice of Engineering (PE-Civil) exam.
  • Confirm that you meet the qualifying experience requirements set by the state.


  • Once you’ve passed the necessary exams and have the required experience, submit your application for licensure to the California Board of Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors, and Geologists using the online BPELSG Connect portal.
  • California requires additional state-specific exams: Civil Seismic Principles and Civil Engineering Surveying.
  • These exams are offered on a continuous quarterly basis, and there’s no final filing date.

Get Your CSLB License

  • Now you need to apply for your CSLB Class A General Engineering Contractor License!
  • As always, you have to meet the CSLB’s licensing requirements before applying.
  • Then, you just have to pass the CSLB exam and get the necessary bonds and insurance
    Receive Your License And Start Working!

Once you’ve passed the CSLB exam, you can start working as an engineer right away!

Additional Information:

  • For Civil Engineers – Three Types Of BPELSG Licenses: BPELSG California offers three categories of licensing for engineers:
      • Practice act (Civil, Electrical, and Mechanical Engineering)
      • Title act (Agricultural, Chemical, Control Systems, Fire Protection, Industrial, Metallurgical, Nuclear, Petroleum, and Traffic Engineering)
      • Title authority (sub-branches of Civil Engineering: Structural Engineering and Geotechnical Engineering).
  • Eligibility and Experience Requirements: Applicants must meet the qualifying experience requirements outlined in Business and Professions Code sections 6751(c) and 6753 and Title 16, California Code of Regulations section 424.
  • Background Check and Fingerprinting: All applicants are background checked and fingerprinted by the CSLB before they are given a license. Check out our comprehensive article on that topic for more information.

Should I Become An Engineer As A Construction Manager?

The answer to that question can only lie within. The reality is that construction managers do make a bit more money, but the trade-offs of having set, reliable hours, and working off-site (or even from home!) means that it could be absolutely worth it for you and your family to make the transition to engineering.

If you’re looking to become an engineer in California, we’ve got you covered with everything you could need to know about what it takes to become a CSLB-certified construction engineer in our great state.

Can a Residential Contractor Work on Commercial Jobs in California?

If you’re a general contractor working on homes, apartments or other residential spaces, you might wonder if you are legally able to work on commercial jobs, even if you’ve only worked on residential jobs before.

In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know if you’re a residential contractor looking to make the jump to the bigger, higher-paying commercial jobs in your part of California.

Key Differences Between Residential and Commercial Contractors

The obvious difference between commercial and residential contractors is that one builds residences like homes and apartments, while the other works on commercial properties: offices, data centers, strip malls, and so on.

Both groups tend to stay in their own respective lanes, but there is a fair bit of overlap as well. Here are the main differences (and similarities) between residential and commercial contractors.

1. Scope and Scale of Projects

  • Residential Contractors: Build homes, apartments, and other living spaces. The projects are typically smaller in scale and involve a more personalized approach to meet the homeowner’s needs. They require a fair bit of direct customer interaction – more so than commercial contractors.
  • Commercial Contractors: They construct non-residential buildings like offices, malls, and industrial structures. These projects are almost always larger, involving more complex systems and more stringent regulations than residential jobs.

2. Building Codes and Regulations

Residential Contractors: Adhere to residential building codes, which might be more lenient in aspects like accessibility and materials. Basically, if you’re building a safe and habitable home or apartment that fits the neighborhood, residential contractors have little to be concerned about when it comes to codes and regulations.
Commercial Contractors: Must comply with commercial building codes, which have stricter guidelines concerning safety, accessibility, and durability due to the public nature of the spaces and the sheer amount of people who use commercial spaces.

3. Design and Materials

Residential Contractors: The design often prioritizes aesthetics, comfort, and functionality, with a lot more flexibility and openness to unique designs. Materials used might prioritize cost-effectiveness or visual appeal. There’s a lot more freedom here.
Commercial Contractors: The design must cater to the functionality of the business or industry, often involving the use of more durable and industrial-grade materials to withstand higher traffic and usage.

4. Project Timeline and Budget

Residential Contractors: Residential projects almost always have a shorter timeline and might have a more flexible budget, with a focus on meeting the homeowner’s specific needs and preferences.
Commercial Contractors: Projects often come with a stringent timeline and budget, with a higher emphasis on adhering to the predetermined schedule to prevent financial losses. Commercial contractors have a lot more on their shoulders than residential contractors, with dozens or hundreds of stakeholders pushing hard on the project to meet expectations and deadlines.

5. Licensing and Insurance

Residential Contractors: Licensing requirements might be less stringent, and insurance might focus more on aspects like property damage and injury. However, in most states, residential contractors have strict licensing guidelines.
Commercial Contractors: While all residential contractors are required to have licenses and insurance in California, commercial contractors are often required to have even more comprehensive licenses and insurance policies due to the larger scale and higher risks involved in commercial projects.

6. Client Interaction

Residential Contractors: Interaction is often with individuals or families, requiring a personal touch and understanding of individual needs. This can sometimes mean overly demanding or needy clients when compared to the residential world, where the general contractor is communicating with an intermediary.
Commercial Contractors: Interaction is usually with business entities, requiring a focus on meeting the functional needs of the business and adhering to commercial standards and regulations. Generally, they have less need for shmoozing or working hard to win clients over.

Licensing: The Key Area

In California, the key license required for general contractors looking to work on both residential and commercial projects is the Class B General Contractor License. Both sets of general contractors need this license to do any work in California. This license is designed for individuals specializing in both residential and commercial construction tasks.

The scope of work under this license is broad as you might expect, covering all sorts of general contractor responsibilities. Some of the things that the Class B General Contractor license encompasses:

  • Design & Builds
  • Residential and commercial building construction
  • ADU Builds
  • Tenant Improvements
  • Repairs and fixes
  • Remodeling (in some instances – in others you’ll need a class B-2 license)

It’s extremely important to note that without a Class B license, you cannot do any general contracting work at all – residential or commercial, so you’re going to want to take care of that first.

The Fine Print

However, the General B License comes with its set of caveats. A general building contractor may engage in a project involving framing or carpentry directly. But for projects involving other trades – in California, anyone holding a Class C License – the scenario gets a tad complex.

Here’s the deal:

If a project involves trades beyond framing or carpentry, a general building contractor can take a prime contract only if it necessitates “at least two unrelated building trades or crafts”.
Alternatively, the contractor should hold the appropriate license classification or subcontract with an appropriately licensed specialty contractor to perform the work.

The Legal and Regulatory Rundown

There are a bunch of legal and regulatory guidelines that govern commercial and residential contracts. The main thing to be aware of – as always – is licensing. Generally speaking, license laws are the laws that will govern everything when it comes to residential and commercial general contracting.

A Class B General Contractor License, for example, allows GenCons to take on any general contracting job in the state – including residential or commercial – but many jobs require contractors to acquire further licensing or certifications to perform certain types of work.

The B&P Code §7057, for example, places further limitations on the types of work GenCons can take on, stating that general building contractors cannot engage in certain works unless they add specific classifications to their license or subcontract with a specially licensed contractor.

As always – it’s illegal for unlicensed contractors to work on any construction project valued over $500, and a license is mandated for 40 construction-related trades in California.

Here’s some more specific information.

Commercial Construction Contracts

One of the biggest laws affecting general contractors working in residential and commercial jobs is SB 474, signed back in 2011. This law established the following changes:

  • SB 474 broadened the scope of unenforceable indemnity provisions, particularly the “Type I” indemnity provisions which previously allowed an upstream contractor to be indemnified by a downstream contractor even for liabilities arising from the former’s own active negligence.
  • Imposed stricter limitations on contractors’ ability to require their subcontractors and suppliers to cover the costs of defense in litigation. Specifically, the law added requirements for a formal written tender of the claim before a subcontractor is obligated to contribute to defense costs.

Carpentry & Framing Restrictions

General contractors in California have specific restrictions when engaging in projects outside the domains of framing or carpentry on their jobs. This gets a bit sticky, so we’ll cover this more in-depth in a later article, but here’s a bird’s eye view of how carpentry and framing trades affect residential and commercial general contractors.

  • A general contractor may take a prime contract or a subcontract for a framing or carpentry project.
  • For projects involving trades other than framing or carpentry, a GenCon can only take a prime contract if it requires at least two unrelated building trades or crafts.
  • Similarly, a GC can take a subcontract involving other trades only if it involves at least two unrelated trades or crafts, aside from framing or carpentry.
  • Furthermore, the law restricts general contractors from contracting for projects that include any CSLB Class “C” specialty contractor projects, unless they hold that certification themselves. Even then, they cannot perform the work if there are less than two trades involved. There must be at least two trades involved.

In addition, to these overarching laws, there’s been a number of recent bills and other legislation that dictate the finer points of commercial general contracting. Here are some of the most important ones for contractors to know.

2022 General Contractor Laws

Electronic Records for Contractors and Subcontractors (AB 1023):

  • This regulation was introduced to enable electronic record-keeping, making it easier for contractors and subcontractors to maintain and access their records digitally.

Direct Contractor Liability on Private Works (SB 727):

  • This legislation expands the liability of direct contractors on private works projects. It requires direct contractors to make certain payments and extends their liability, ensuring that subcontractors and laborers are paid appropriately for their work​​.

Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) Program (AB 1551):

  • This law concerns the PACE program which provides financing for homeowners and business owners to make energy efficiency, renewable energy, and water conservation improvements.

Enforcement of Liens on Real Property (SB 572):

  • This regulation addresses the enforcement of liens on real property, providing a legal framework for contractors and other stakeholders to claim their financial rights.

Change Order Cap (Los Angeles County ONLY!):

  • A law was enacted that allows Los Angeles County to implement a change order cap of $400,000 for contracts whose original cost exceeds $25,000,000, and a cap of $750,000 for contracts exceeding $50,000,000. These caps are adjustable annually based on the percentage change in the California Consumer Price Index​.

2023 General Contractor Laws

Workers’ Compensation Laws

  • Probably the biggest piece of legislation that went into effect in 2023 are the new Workers’ Comp laws. These laws legally require all contractors to have $25,000 in Workers’ Compensation.

Housing Affordability and Environmental Laws

  • A series of laws were passed aimed at improving housing affordability, tackling climate change, and facilitating the construction of new housing, impacting both residential and commercial contractors. This is an opportunity for general contractors to reach new markets

Procurement Authorities

  • New procurement authorities were introduced for contractors, potentially altering the way contracts are awarded and managed.

Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) Laws

  • New laws concerning ADUs were passed to make it easier and more affordable to build such units, impacting residential contractors primarily but also commercial contractors involved in residential projects.

Minimum Wage Increase

  • Effective January 1, 2023, the minimum wage in California will increase to $15.50 per hour for businesses with 26 or more employees, affecting the labor costs for contractors.

Increased Civil Penalties (AB 1747):

  • Contractors who violate building laws will see an increase in civil penalties under AB 1747 in 2023. The bill increases the fine from $8,000 to $30,000 for every violation of BPC Section 7110 (violations of building laws) and amends Section 7099.2 (assessment of civil penalties) regarding building permit violations​.


If you’re a residential contractor in California – good news! You don’t need anything special to do commercial jobs, as long as you’re working on jobs that fit your classification, and making sure that you’re paying attention to all the exceptions to the rules – things like specialized classifications and the “two trade” laws.

Marketing yourself as a commercial contractor is a whole different kettle of fish, though – maybe we’ll write an article with some of the best tips to get you going!


CSLB – Building Official Information Guide
CSLB – Class B General Contractor License
Smith, Currie & Hancock – 2023 Construction Laws
Digital Constructive – Jobs You Can Do With A General B License
Contractors License Guru – What Can and What Can’t General Building Contractors Do
LegalMatch – Can Homeowners Hire an Unlicensed Contractor?
Lorman – Fundamentals of Construction Contracts in California
Pillsbury Law – Shifting of Liability