Monthly Archives: December 2023

5 Free (Or Almost Free) Marketing Tools For Contractors

Not everyone has huge, disposable income after the overhead costs of running their contractor business, but with a little budgeting and some ingenuity, marketing will become your best friend in the pursuit of your target audience, paying hand-over-fist in relation to its expense.

The wonderful thing about guerilla marketing, or marketing techniques that are not common in your field, is that they capture the attention of your prospective customers by reaching them where they are less likely to have their guard up and often at a lower cost than more traditional platforms.

So, without further ado, here are 5 free (or almost free) marketing tools for contractors!

Networking events. You can find events everywhere, in every town in America, and for contractors, they are essential. You can mingle with the end client, but also you can cross-pollinate and mutually benefit from the services of other businesses and form partnerships that can open unexpected possibilities down the line.

Expert Content. Your skills are valuable and people would like you to share your expertise! A fantastic way to demonstrate your knowledgeable brand is to provide valuable information in the form of content – videos, articles, blogs, podcasts, and so on. Keep the content simple and related to your field of experience, like a how-to video on how to install a faucet, or an article outlining quick fixes for ceiling leaks. Contractors have a lot to share – and people want to learn from them!

Email Blasts. Email blasts are so extremely cheap for the incredible value they can add to your business that you’re losing money by not using email to market your business. Automated email blasts are a great way to nurture relationships with your leads. The good thing about email is it serves different touchpoints, levels of interest, and moments in the sales process. For example, you can remind people of your business with simple DIY guides, or you can convert cold leads into customers with calls to action and enticements like discounts or sales. Best of all, email costs almost nothing and requires very little expertise to set up and get running!

Partner With A Complementary Contractor Or Contracting Business. Partnering with another business owner in a similar classification can pay huge dividends. Not only can you recommend your partner and their services to your existing clients, but you can also leverage each other’s marketing channels – allowing you both to double your reach by using one another’s businesses as a megaphone.

There’s simply no excuse for contractors NOT to be using these free or nearly free marketing tools to grow their business. If you’re a contractor and you’re not marketing, you’re falling behind your competitors in the area – the more you can get your name out there, the more people will come to you looking for help with their construction.

Keep in mind this is the absolute bare minimum you should be doing as a contractor. Investing in marketing is often the best thing you can do to grow your business – because, without customers, you don’t have a business at all!

AI and Automation Construction Trends 2024

As contractors, we have to constantly adapt to the changing circumstances of our world. 2023 was the year when AI exploded into prominence as a widely-used and rapidly growing tool to be used in industries of all sizes.

With 2023 behind us, it’s important to look forward to 2024 with an eye toward AI and automation, and its role in the construction industry. As AI and automation become more sophisticated in the next few years, we’ll see our entire society become reconfigured.

Where the world will end up in the age of ubiquitous, useful AI and automation is anyone’s guess. What we can predict with 100% certainty is that AI and automation are here to stay – and any contractor who neglects the incredible power they can provide is one who gets left behind.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at 10 key trends in AI and automation to look out for as you prepare for an exciting and successful 2024.

Advanced Project Management Tools

One of the main areas where AI and automation have become commonplace – if not expected – is in project management. Since so many construction projects follow the same pathways and same milestones, it’s easy for AI to learn the common methodology on your projects, so it can make your processes more efficient.

Autodesk’s Construction Cloud, along with their Design and Make Platform, offers a suite of project management tools that streamline construction projects with features like automatic submittal logs generation and centralized construction meeting minutes. Autodesk provides a centralized workspace connecting all teams in the built environment, leveraging AI for better project data analysis and decision-making.

Other popular PM tools include HiveMind, a real-time AI assistant that can write content, plan projects, streamline work, and respond to emails; ClickUp, with its AI-powered scheduling assistant, optimizes construction scheduling considering task dependencies, team availability, and project priorities; and Ayanza, an AI management software, enhances team performance and collaboration with AI-powered strategy enhancements and AI-driven brainstorming.

Robotic Bricklayers

As you might expect, automated machinery is becoming more and more commonplace on construction sites. These days, the most common type of machine-driven construction comes in the form of masonry. Look out for robotic masons and automated bricklaying to make a big splash in 2024 as it saves time and money in terms of labor and materials.

Construction Robotics’ SAM and Australian robotics company FBR’s Hadrian X robot automates the bricklaying process, working from a 3D CAD model to place bricks with the speed and precision humans can only dream of – saving money on materials and labor.
AI-Powered Drones for Inspection

Drones have long been commonplace on job sites, but AI drones are going to be the next big thing. The big difference between regular drones and AI-powered drones is the automated version allows for more complex mapping and control, allowing all parties more specific, more detailed information than in the past.

AI-driven drones from companies like Skydio are becoming increasingly popular for autonomous inspection of construction sites. DroneDeploy‘s software leverages AI for analyzing drone-captured imagery, providing insights for construction site monitoring and management. offers a revolutionary AI-powered visual documentation platform for preconstruction data analysis, capturing 360-degree walkthroughs of construction sites and creating digital twins​​ for review across teams.

3D Printing in Building Construction

3D printing is another hot topic for construction nerds. While we’ve long been promised the ability to print cheaper, more malleable, longer-lasting materials via 3D printing, only recently has that become reasonable and available to the general public.

Companies like ICON are building entire communities from fully 3D-printed materials, using automated construction to help put it together in a trend that is only going to continue to blossom.

Augmented Reality (AR) for On-site Visualization

AR has become an increasingly useful tool for contractors. Mostly used to communicate visuals to clients and other external stakeholders, AR can be extremely useful for getting buy-in on an idea or to sell your idea. It also allows teams to communicate ideas with one another more effectively.

Microsoft’s HoloLens and Trimble’s AR technology allow for the overlay of 3D models onto physical construction sites to help stakeholders visualize various aspects of the process.
Enhanced BIM with AI

Building information modeling, or BIM, is probably one of the most important software updates of the last few decades, drastically improving the ability of teams and stakeholders to visualize and communicate building ideas in complex environments. AI and automation only push this further, allowing for more effective construction.

Bentley Systems’ BIM software incorporates AI to streamline design processes and predict potential conflicts. Graphisoft’s Archicad, a BIM software, integrates AI to assist in design optimization and collaboration. Fusion 360 – the biggest of the BIM platforms – integrates AI-powered tools into the CAD process via Autodesk’s infamous AutoCAD, enhancing design efficiency and accuracy with its generative design capabilities.

Machine Learning Material Optimization

With inflation and supply chain issues, material management is becoming one of the best ways for contractors to cut costs and improve their bottom line. Machine learning allows contractors to get deeper, more relevant insights that provide more opportunities to save on materials while delivering the same quality.

ALICE Technologies uses machine learning in its construction software to optimize construction sequencing and material usage, aiming to reduce costs and environmental impacts. Fieldwire uses advanced AI algorithms for real-time data aggregation to monitor and maintain your job site, leveraging real-time data tools to do so most efficiently.

Blockchain for Smart Contracts

Crypto has lost its sheen a bit since blowing up around 2019-2021, but blockchain technology is only increasing in usage across industries. Blockchain tech can be extremely powerful for construction companies for communication and transparency both internally and externally.

IBM Blockchain is used in construction for creating smart contracts, ensuring transparency and efficiency in contract management, while BuildSort’s blockchain platform focuses on simplifying contract management in construction, enhancing collaboration and record-keeping.

AI for Safety Compliance

AI and automation can be extremely useful in maintaining safety compliance with OSHA, your state, and even the federal government. By leveraging real-time data, AI and automation can predict or detect issues before they become bigger problems that compromise your business. uses AI and real-time data analysis to detect any safety hazards on-site and maintain compliance on jobs, while Pillar Technologies similarly uses sensors and AI to monitor environmental conditions on construction sites, helping to ensure safety standards are met.

Sustainability and Energy Analysis

Sustainability and energy usage will only continue to become more important as we suffer the increasing impacts of climate change. With this in mind, automated energy detection, analysis, and consultation are becoming a key element of AI-driven construction, allowing contractors and clients to save money by tracking and maintaining energy costs.

Johnson Controls uses AI in its building management systems to optimize energy usage in construction projects. Siemens Building Technologies integrates AI to enhance energy efficiency and sustainability in building operations.

Stay Up To Date…Or Else

Sure, in many ways, AI is really scary – 2023 was the first year where AI and automation started taking on jobs that seemed previously untouchable, such as the arts and other creative occupations.

It goes without saying that the construction industry is facing similar challenges with AI – but AI and automation also present a unique challenge to contractors who are willing to learn how to use it to their advantage.

Any contractor who neglects the impact AI is having on our world is a contractor who is left behind – so make sure you’re staying up-to-date with the latest tools, opportunities, and threats in the industry, so you can maintain your competitiveness in the construction industry.

How To Find Your Contractor’s License Number

If you’re a construction contractor in California, knowing how to find your Contractors State License Board (CSLB) contractor’s license number is essential for winning clients, staying compliant, and, well, pretty much everything you do as a contractor in the state.

In this quick guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about checking your contractor’s license number – what it is, where to find it, and how to maintain your license status with the CSLB.

The CSLB License: The Basics

In California, a contractor’s license is provided by the CSLB. This certification legally allows you to bid on and work on construction projects that fall under the umbrella of your license classification.

For example, if you’re an electrician, you can only take on electrician jobs, while Class B General Contractor license holders can naturally only take on gen con jobs.

Every CSLB license is tied to a specific contractor license number that is generated and maintained by the CSLB in a central database. This contractor license number is how you are identified by the CSLB, SWIFT, and other authorities when it comes to ensuring compliance with contractor license law.

In addition to legal authorities, many clients will request your contractor license number, so they can do their diligence on you and make sure that you are who you say you are and that you are licensed and capable of doing the job you are bidding for.

Where Is Your Contractor License Number?

When it comes to finding your contractor license, there’s a number of easy ways to locate it. The first and easiest is to check the documents the CSLB gave you – but it’s also easy to check online using the CSLB license checker.

Find Your License Number On CSLB Official Documents

  • CSLB Correspondence: Your license number is mentioned in any official communication from the CSLB. Check your business mailbox or your PO Box and there will almost certainly be a piece of mail from the CSLB with your number on it.
  • License Certificate: The number is displayed prominently on your license certificate. You should always keep your license certificate in a safe place, but somewhere where you can have it on hand as well, just in case you need to show it to someone.

Check Your CSLB License Online

  • The CSLB License Check Tool: Visit the CSLB website and use the Check a License tool. Simply input your name or your business’ name and it will quickly spit out all the details about your license (including your current license status and any potential holds against your license).

Print Your Own Cards

  • Business Cards and Advertisements: It’s a no-brainer to put your license number on your business cards and ads for your business. It’s convenient not only for you but for your customers, as they can quickly make sure that you’re legit and worth their money. In short, having your number front and center immediately separates the wheat (you) from the chaff (sketchy contractors)

Verifying Your CSLB License Status

Having issues finding your CSLB license number and need to find out why? Or maybe you used the CSLB license checker and found

Online Verification

  • Head To the CSLB’s Website: Start by visiting the CSLB’s website.
  • Use the CSLB License Checker Tool: Input your license number in the Check a License tool.
  • Review Details: Ensure your license status is active and check for any compliance issues.

Phone Verification

  • Call the CSLB: Dial 1-800-321-CSLB (2752). The automated system provides license information – all you have to do is tell them your license number and they can provide all the additional information.

Keeping Your License Information Updated

In some cases, you may need to update your license information. Maybe you moved to another city or maybe you removed an operating partner from your business. In any case, the CSLB requires you to promptly and directly update your information to them as soon as possible – or face the consequences of losing your license. Remember, it’s your responsibility to update your information – it is YOUR JOB to make sure your license is correct and valid.

Updating Contact Information

  • Online Update: Use the CSLB website to keep your contact details current.
  • Regular Checks: Regularly check and update your license information to avoid any compliance issues. Good contractors constantly make sure they are licensed.

Renewal and Compliance

  • Timely Renewal: Be aware of the renewal dates and comply with the necessary procedures to keep your license active. Licenses are only active for two years, so make sure you’re keeping your license up to date!


For contractors in California, keeping track of your license number and ensuring it’s active and compliant is crucial for your professional operations. Utilize the CSLB website and maintain up-to-date records for smooth business operations.

Remember, your contractor’s license number is not just a legal requirement, but a representation of your professional credibility in the construction industry in California – one that immediately signals to potential customers that you are worthy of their business.

Regular checks and updates are not only good to do but essential for any contractor worth their salt to make sure they’re staying above board with the CSLB and not operating illegally. Anything related to your license is your responsibility.

Reminder For Contractors: Civil Penalties Have Changed For Contractors Via Section 884

A reminder to all contractors that in August of 2023, the Contractors State License Board (CSLB) in California made crucial changes to Section 884 of Title 16, Division 8, of the California Code of Regulations.

These changes are generally about civil penalties in case of litigation by a client against a contractor, with the CSLB amending a full schedule of changes with associated costs based on the gross amount of damages created by the contractor in a civil suit.

We’ll cover the basics of these changes so contractors can enter 2024 armed with the knowledge to protect themselves from serious penalties.

Overview of Section 884 Amendments

The Key Information: Changes To Civil Penalties

The amendment to Section 884 introduces new penalty ranges for various violations under California law as per the CSLB.

For example, violations under Section 7028 now carry a penalty ranging from $200 to $8,000, while more severe violations, such as those under Section 7114, can attract penalties ranging from $500 to $30,000. There are roughly fifty.

We’ll attach a full civil penalties schedule for Section 884 Amendments at the end of this article.

How Are Civil Penalties Assessed By The CSLB?

The revised regulations allow the Registrar to consider several factors when determining penalties. Most of these are already applied, as the CSLB takes every contractor’s unique case into consideration when determining punishments.

The new changes outline that the Registrar can include the presence of multiple violations, a history of previous offenses, bad faith, the seriousness of the violation, and violations affecting vulnerable populations like seniors or disabled persons when outlining the penalties for civil suits.

Additionally, where a citation lists multiple violations related to the same construction project, the total penalty assessment in each citation is capped at different maximum amounts depending on the nature of the violations, with a general cap of $8,000, but going up to $15,000 or $30,000 for more serious offenses.

What Do Contractors Need To Do To Stay Compliant?

If you’re a contractor who is aware of the changes, you can stay compliant with the changes. As always, contractors who tend to be compliant tend to stay compliant – so you probably don’t have anything to worry about.

Bad actors; however, are in serious trouble with these new fees, as they can become extremely punitive to contractors who have a history of taking advantage of clients. We’re not really writing for those people anyway – chances are they don’t know and don’t care about regulation changes.

However, for good contractors like yourself, regular review of your practices makes sense, so you can ensure that you align with these new CSLB standards.

In addition to the new Section 884 changes, here’s some ways to stay compliant with Section 884 and other related regulations, contractors in California should be aware of the following:

  • Workers’ Compensation Insurance Requirements: Now, certain contractor classifications such as concrete (C-8), HVAC (C-20), asbestos abatement (C-22), and tree service (D-49) are required to have workers’ compensation insurance, regardless of whether they have employees. By January 1, 2026, this requirement will extend to all licensed contractors.
  • Increased Penalties for Permit Violations: Assembly Bill 1747 has increased potential civil penalties to $30,000 for violations of Business and Professions Code Section 7110, which includes disregard for state or local laws related to building permits.
  • Public Disclosure of Letters of Admonishment: The CSLB can now make letters of admonishment public for up to two years, depending on the violation’s severity, contractor’s good faith, and violation history. Another incentive to stay compliant!
  • Fee Reduction for Veteran Contractors: Assembly Bill 2105 allows a 50% reduction in initial license or registration fees for veterans.


As always, it’s critical that you stay informed on all the latest regulatory and compliance changes. It’s on you to be aware of all the laws and codes that regulate contractor law – so make sure you’re constantly staying up to date, both in terms of your knowledge and your application of said knowledge.
There’s no excuse for falling afoul of compliance in 2024 – we all have the internet – so make sure your ship is tight, so you don’t sink under the weight of rules and regs.

Find California Code Section 884 Civil Penalties Schedule Here.

5 Unorthodox Ways to Find New Contractor Clients

The California construction contractor industry – with over 300,000 general contractors alone – is one of the most competitive regions in the country. From San Diego to San Francisco, you’re competing against dozens if not thousands of people for the same jobs.

With the intensity of competition for limited jobs by contractors who all have similar skills, and deliver similar services, one of the best ways to gain a competitive advantage as a contractor is through marketing.

Furthermore, most contractors are doing the same thing when it comes to marketing – joining the local chamber of commerce, creating a business profile for Facebook, and putting your logo and contact info on your work truck. This means that the competition for marketing your services as a contractor is just as intense as the jobs themselves.

With that in mind, the best way to gain an advantage over your competition and win more new clients is by going further than the traditional pathways to your new clientele.

The real way to win new clients as a California contractor is to seek out marketing opportunities that aren’t saturated with your competitors’ messaging already.

Here’s five ways to go above and beyond with your marketing to find those new clients for your contracting business.

1. Develop Relationships With Real Estate Professionals and Organizations. Working together with real estate folks is an obvious route to finding new clients. For example, realtors will often have little bits and bobs to address on their various properties, while sellers may need reno work to get the home in perfect condition before a sale. Alternatively, new buyers might want to make improvements so that the home will better suit their needs. Over time, having just a few realtors, developers, home inspectors, and other RE professionals in your network can give you a big boost in referrals.

2. Workshops. Workshops are a great way to meet your clients directly while also demonstrating your skills and personality at the same time. If you can show your clients how to update their kitchen or install a new closet system, you’re the first person they’ll call when they need help with their home.

3. Parties. Sounds weird, right? But everyone loves a party – especially when there’s something in it for them. Throw a customer appreciation party and give them free food and drink – and maybe even a discount on their next service. Bring together local construction-adjacent professionals to build connections and confidence in your name and company. Plus ones are extra, extra invited!

4. Video Ad Campaigns. Online ads are a great way to gain attention for your business, but VERY FEW companies actually advertise their company through moving pictures. With a video ad campaign, you can add life and personality to your business, while also demonstrating what the customer can expect before, during, and after the process. Video campaigns represent incredible potential to ease customers’ fears about you and your service – so they’ll be more likely to call you when a problem arises.

5. Billboards. You’ve seen the car wrap and you’ve seen the banner on the job site, but why do so few construction professionals advertise their services on billboards or similar out-of-home advertising platforms? Marketing a construction business is 90% awareness, and outdoor advertising is incredibly effective at increasing the number of people who are aware of your business. For most construction jobs, that’s enough for people to call you over your competitors.

The Bottom Line: Think Outside The Box (Or Screen)

To win more clients than your competitors in one of the world’s most competitive construction landscapes in the world, you have to think outside the box to find them.

The best way to get people to pay attention to you is to do something that grabs their attention – and that means not doing the same thing everyone else is doing. Take some time and write down some special and interesting ways you can reach your local audience – you know it better than we ever could!

Can Anyone Get A General Contractor License in California?

When it comes to doing contracting work in California, there are few more common words than these three: “general contractor license.”

As by far the most popular contractor license classification in the state – with over 300,000 Class B license holders – becoming a general contractor is a highly desired and highly lucrative career path for many in the state.

But can anyone get a Class B General Contractor license from the Contractors State License Board (CSLB) – and become a licensed general contractor?

In this article, we’ll take a look at whether just anyone can become a GC in California – and the steps you need to take to get there.

The Journey From Apprentice To General Contractor

So, can anyone become a general contractor?

Maybe you know someone else who went after it and successfully obtained their general contractor license. Maybe you’re the first person you know to even try. In any case, taking on this significant milestone can be satisfying and rewarding – financially, professionally, and personally.

The beauty of a career as a general contractor is that anyone can become a general contractor if they’re willing to put in the time and effort to learn the trade. Yes, even you. With no traditional school requirements – only on-the-job experience – becoming a GC is a great way to make good money in a stable industry.

However, there is a long journey ahead – a journey that is, in many ways, much more difficult than the cushy classrooms of a university. Every contractor must complete four years’ worth of journeyman experience in their given trade to even be eligible to apply for their license. For general contractors, that means they must do 4 years’ worth of journeyman work as a general contractor!

An apprenticeship with a general contractor can also pay dividends massively by allowing you to only need three years’ work experience as an apprentice – plus one year of journeyman experience.

Becoming an apprentice or journeyman is critical for your path to becoming a general contractor. In many ways, it’s a lot like a four-year university – except in this case, you’re getting paid to learn your future job!

Review And Understand The Eligibility Requirements

Before you apply for your general contractor license, you must make sure that you meet the eligibility requirements set by the Contractors State License Board (CSLB).

In order to get a Class B License, applicants must meet the following requirements. In some cases – such as situations where an applicant has a criminal record – you may be required to meet other, more rigorous standards to even apply for a general contractor license.

Here are the basic requirements to become a general contractor:

  • Be 18 or older.
  • Have a valid Social Security number or Individual Taxpayer ID.
  • Have at least four years of work experience as a journeyman working as a general contractor
  • OR have three years’ apprenticeship experience and one year of on-the-job training
  • Pass the CSLB exam

Prep for The CSLB Exam

Besides the rigorous four-year training period for all contractors, the other most difficult part of becoming a general contractor is passing the notoriously rigorous CSLB exam. This two-part exam, covering both general contractor knowledge and contractor law and business respectively, has broken many contractors in their pursuit of licensure.

With a stunning 130+ questions, we suggest enrolling in exam prep courses and using study materials provided by the CSLB. You can also find practice exams online to help you gauge your level of readiness. Either way, practice and preparation are critical for saving time, money, and energy.

Submit Your Application

If you meet the experience requirements and pass your exam, then congratulations! You’re past the worst stuff. You can apply online through the CSLB website!

You can submit your application online, or you can submit a physical application instead if that is your preference. Make sure you complete all required sections accurately!

Get Bonded and Insured

In California, it is required for general contractors to secure a contractor’s bond and liability insurance for themselves.

All general contractors are required to have a contractor’s bond – a financial guarantee that you will fulfill contractual obligations on your side. Most GCs will also have to have liability insurance and workers’ compensation insurance, which protects you financially in case of accidents or damages on the job site.

Be advised that your license will not be approved unless you provide proof of and maintain sufficient bonding and insurance coverage throughout your career.

Pay The Fees

Our least favorite section rears its ugly head once again! You must pay any and all fees to the CSLB before you can receive a general contractor’s license (or any contractor license for that matter!).

Take a look at the current fee schedule on the CSLB website and determine which fees pertain to your chosen license classification. Check this information carefully and submit your payment with your application.

Prepare for Your Interview If Applicable

In some cases, the CSLB may request an interview. This part of the process is meant for reviewing your qualifications and past business experience. If this requirement applies to you, do not sweat it.

Look over the detailed record of your work history that you prepared and practice natural ways to reinforce your commitment to your work as a contractor. This part of the process can only help you better your chances of landing a positive result.

Receive Your License And Stay Compliant!

Congratulations! You’ve put in the hard hours, done the diligence, studied your buns off, passed the exam, paid the fees, and finally – finally! – you’re a licensed, bonded, and insured Class B General Contractor.

Receiving your Class B license is a massive milestone in your career and your life. With a Class B license, you can take on almost any job, of any size, and build a new life for yourself and your family.

With that in mind, it’s critical that you don’t stop here and rest on your laurels. Sure, you have your license now, but contractors’ licenses are only valid for 2-3 years. It’s important that you stay on top of your education, resources and more so that your Class B license stays valid throughout your career as a general contractor.

Best of luck to you on your journey!

Can Felons Get A General Contractor License?

While this is a complex question that varies based on every situation, the answer is yes – many felons can qualify for a CSLB Class B license, but the path to get there is different from the typical way.

Check out our article on this topic for a more in-depth guide on this topic.

How to Get a Handyman License in California

Is There Such A Thing As A Handyman License?

Are you a handyman in California and want to get your contractor license? You came to the right place!

As you surely know, almost every type of construction or home improvement worker in California is required to have a Contractor State License Board contractors license to practice their profession. Everyone from engineers to roofers is required to have one. But what about handymen?

We’re going to break the news to you right off the bat: there is no Contractors State License Board contractors license for people who do handyman jobs or maintenance workers.

In many ways, that’s good news! You save money on pricey licensing fees, bonds and insurance costs, and all of the legal red tape that comes with costly construction.

The downside is that there is a limit to how much you can make as a maintenance worker or handyman without a license – so you may be thinking about taking on larger jobs that may require a license.

Let’s explore more about how a handyman can take advantage of a contractor’s license.

When Do You Need A Contractor’s License?

In California, a handyman can legally undertake jobs without a license, but only if the combined labor and material cost is less than $500.

For projects exceeding this amount, a contractor’s license is required. It’s important to note that splitting a larger project into smaller parts to avoid licensing requirements is prohibited​​​.

What Kind Of Contractors License Does A Handyman Need?

If you plan to handle projects over $500, you need a CSLB license in whatever trade or profession the job is.

For example, if you are doing AC work, you need an HVAC license; if you’re pouring concrete, you need a concrete license, and so on.

However, the contractor license that makes the most sense for handymen or maintenance workers is a Class B General Building Contractor license.

This license covers a broad range of construction and remodeling activities. With a Class B License, you can perform a variety of general construction tasks from painting to carpentry and beyond.

Read our guide on the Class B License to learn more.

Requirements to Obtain a Contractors’ License in California

  • Journeyman-Level Experience: Aspiring handymen need at least 4 years of journeyman-level experience in their chosen trade, which can be verified by a licensed contractor or other experts.
  • Submit An Application: Complete the contractor’s license application on the CSLB website.
  • Exams: Pass the dreaded CSLB exam, which covers various aspects of construction, safety, and project management, in addition to contractor law and business.
  • Fees: Pay the required licensing fees. These fees are extensive and can add up quickly. See our article for a full rundown.
  • Bonds & Insurance: You must have a contractors’ bond and workers’ compensation insurance to get a contractor license from the CSLB.
  • Background Check: The CSLB will perform a federal background check and a fingerprint check. All applicants’ backgrounds are taken on a case-by-case basis, so don’t be discouraged if, for example, you’re a felon.

Additional Certifications and Training

With a contractor’s license, the scope of projects you can take on as a handyman or maintenance worker expands greatly. You can leverage this new power by strengthening your clients’ trust further in the form of certifications.

Here are some certifications in particular that dovetail nicely with handyman work. Many of these are important to ensure the health and safety of not only yourself but your employees and clients.

  • EPA RRP Lead Safety Certification: This certification is crucial for handling projects involving lead paint​​ – making sure you’re not inhaling or ingesting any carcinogens in the process of removal.
  • Mold Remediation Certification: A valuable certification for handymen, given the health risks associated with mold. Black mold in general is extremely commonplace in the US at the moment, which creates an opportunity for handymen to step in.
  • Professional Home Inspection Certificate: Useful for identifying potential issues in homes, an advantageous skill for handymen involved in property maintenance and repair​.


While California doesn’t have a specific handyman license, anyone undertaking significant repair or remodeling work should consider obtaining a contractor’s license – specifically a general contractor license.

By getting a Class B general contractor license, a handyman or maintenance worker can exponentially expand their offerings to individuals and businesses, to the point where you’re basically starting a new career entirely – without having to really do anything!

Additional Resources

For further details and up-to-date information, it’s recommended to consult the California Contractors State License Board and explore training courses and certification programs relevant to the handyman profession.

What Bonds Do I Need as a California Contractor in 2024?

If you’re a new contractor in California – whether you’re looking to become a Class B general contractor or a Class C specialty contractor or anything in between – you need to know your bonds.

In fact – at the very least, you’ll need to have a contractor’s bond to even get your CSLB contractor’s license.

In this article, we’ll cover all the basics for what bonds you need to start the year off with a shiny new contractor’s license. This article will only cover the essentials – if you want to deepen your understanding of bonds, check out our Comprehensive Guide to Bonds.

Contractors State License Board Bond Requirements

What Is the Contractors State License Board?

The Contractors State Licensing Board (CSLB) is responsible for all contractors’ licenses in California. The CSLB handles all 300,000 contractors in the state of California – which is no small feat.

The CSLB’s main job is to make sure that contractors meet safety and craftsmanship standards to protect consumers and businesses from bad actors. They do this via the CSLB contractor’s license, which ensures a common standard.

Contractors License Bonds

In order to get your CSLB license, one must first meet the CSLB’s bond requirements – which have actually just changed as of January 1 of this year.

The primary bond that all contractors – regardless of classification, trade, tenure, experience, age, or type of work – are required to have at all times is a contractor bond.

The bond guarantees that a contractor will adhere to all contractual obligations laid out in the contract. If the terms are not met due to the contractor’s actions, the surety company covers the debts, up to the amount of the bond.

It’s important to note that even with a contractor’s bond, the contractor is ultimately responsible for repayment of the damages to the bond company. This bond is designed to protect homeowners against sketchy contractors by giving them at least enough money to cover most construction costs – although it’s often not enough.

Thanks to Senate Bill 607, as of January 1, 2023, the CSLB increased the principal bond limits for contractors from $12,500 or $15,000 to $25,000​​​​ for all contractors.

A Word About Insurance

It’s important to note that the CSLB requires additional types of protective measures in the form of insurance.

Insurance operates differently from bonds – covering the amount without needing repayment from the contractor – but offers the same guarantee of payment in the case of an issue.

The CSLB requires one type of insurance in order to receive or renew your license: Workers’ Compensation insurance. There are exceptions to this rule, but it’s de facto necessary.

The Main Types of CSLB Bonds

  • Contractor’s Bond: As we’ve covered, this is the main and most important bond required by the CSLB. Every contractor must have a contractor’s bond to receive their CSLB license. It must be written by a surety company endorsed by the CSLB and must be in the amount of $25,000​.
  • Bond of Qualifying Individual: Required if your license is qualified by a Responsible Managing Employee or Officer who doesn’t own at least 10% of the corporation’s voting stock. This bond also has a $25,000 limit.
  • Disciplinary Bond: Necessary if a contractor’s license has been revoked due to violations. It is an additional bond with a $25,000 limit and must remain in effect for at least two years.
  • Workers’ Comp: For contractors operating as LLCs, a unique $100,000 LLC Employee/Worker Bond is required, providing extra protection for employees and workers.
  • Liability Insurance: For LLCs with five or fewer employees, you need to have liability insurance in the amount of $1,000,000.

Can You Get A Bond With Bad Credit?

Having bad credit can make obtaining a bond more challenging but not impossible – it’s not like buying a house or other situation where you are raked over the coals and cooked until crispy.

On the contrary, the construction industry is filled with competent, good people who have bad credit. You’d be lucky to find a job site without a good number of sub-600 credit scores.

That’s why many surety bond companies offer bonds for applicants with less-than-perfect credit. The trade-off is that you pay a higher premium rate​.

Visit our Comprehensive Bond Guide for more information.


Bonds – specifically contractors bonds – are an essential part of the construction industry in California, creating a safety net for both individuals and businesses looking to get work done.

With a contractor bond, the client will receive some sort of compensation, so that they can at least come away with something in case they run across the small percentage of construction contractors who want to take advantage of people.

If you’re a contractor, make sure you get your bonds from one of the CSLB’s approved list of bond providers. The process should be quick, easy, and streamlined for anyone in the industry.

An Essential Guide To Prime Contracts vs. Subprime Contracts for California Contractors

When it comes to booking work as a general contractor or a subcontractor in California, it’s absolutely essential that you know the finer points of prime and subprime contracts.

You can face substantial legal consequences if you run afoul of a contract – whether on purpose or by accident – so knowing what belongs in a prime or subprime contract means protecting your business from the law.

But as contractors, we’re not lawyers – we just build things – so many contractors know very little about prime and subprime contracts. In this article, we’ll fill you in on all the essential elements of prime and subprime contracts, so you can make sure your business is compliant now and in the future.

Construction Prime Contracts in California

What Is A Prime Contract?

Prime contracts are the most essential contracts that you’ll find on construction projects, involving direct relationships between the project owner and the primary contractor. Usually, a general contractor or a construction manager are the ones that are involved in prime contracts.

This contractor holds complete responsibility for project execution, which may include hiring and managing multiple subcontractors for various project components. When a prime contractor hires any subcontractors, a subprime contract is created.

Legal Requirements and Provisions

When it comes to what needs to be prime contracts in California, there’s a lot to be aware of. Prime contracts have far more legal requirements and frameworks than subprime contracts, which are a bit more random and ad hoc to the job itself. Subprime contracts can be easily worked out between the prime contractor and the subcontractor, with no oversight necessary.

Prime contracts are heavily regulated by the state. California law mandates specific provisions in prime contracts, including the inclusion of the contractor’s license number, adherence to regulations set by the Contractors’ State License Board, and compliance with the Business and Professions Code.

These contracts must also comply with provisions for home improvement projects, as detailed in Section 7159 of the Business and Professions Code​​.

When it comes to making sure you’re in compliance with California law, we highly recommend hiring a lawyer. The reality is that we’re only contractors – we’re not equipped to understand the labyrinth that is California contract law.

What Needs To Be In A Prime Construction Contract In California?

There are specific stipulations set forth by the California legal system as to what exactly needs to be in a prime contract for construction.

These requirements are constantly changing and can be extremely specific – it’s important that you hire a legal specialist to make sure your contracts are compliant.

That said, here are the main things that absolutely must be in a prime contract in California.

  1. Contractor’s License Number: The California Business and Professions Code section 7030.5 mandates that all construction contracts must include the contractor’s license number. This applies to prime contracts, subcontracts, bids, and advertising forms​.
  2. Statement for Complaint Procedure: A statement informing all parties that complaints against the contractor can be filed with the Contractors’ State License Board within certain time frames for patent and latent acts or omissions​.
  3. Disclosure for Suspended or Revoked License: If a contractor’s license has been suspended or revoked more than once in an eight-year period, this must be disclosed before entering into a contract for residential property work​​.
  4. Additional Provisions for Prime Contracts (Other than Home Improvement Contracts):
    A statement as required by Business and Professions Code section 7030(a), informing about contractor licensing regulations and the jurisdiction of the Contractors’ State License Board​.

In addition to those three general stipulations, there’s also some specific requirements for home improvement contractors (B-2 Remodeling Contractors and their various subcontractors).

Specific Provisions for Home Improvement Prime Contracts: Prime contracts for home improvement projects must comply with the detailed requirements outlined in Business and Professions Code section 7159. These include, but are not limited to:

  • The contract must be in writing and include the title “Home Improvement” in boldface type. No, really.
  • The contractor’s name, business address, and contractor’s license number must be clearly stated.
  • Detailed information about the contract price, payment schedule, project description, start and completion dates.
  • Clauses related to extra work and change orders.
  • Specific notices about mechanics liens, insurance, and the project owner’s right to cancel.

Construction Subprime Contracts in California

What Is A Subprime Contract?

Subprime contracts, commonly referred to as subcontracts, are those contracts between specialized contractors undertaking specific tasks within a larger project, such as electricians or plumbers – anyone with a Class C license in California.

These are the types of contracts that general contractors and subcontractors enter into. They outline what type of work is to be performed by the subcontractor, what the timelines are, what work is expected of the contractors, and what the penalties are for falling foul of what’s in the contract.

Legal Requirements

The specific legal requirements for subprime contracts are not as extensively defined in the law as for prime contracts – there’s a lot more leeway for contractors and subcontractors to shape the terms of the contract to suit both parties.

However, that doesn’t mean there are no legal requirements. The main thing that subcontracts must outline is who is performing the work, what work they’re performing, and the timelines that the work is to be delivered.

For example, under the Public Contracts Code, prime contractors must list subcontractors for specific portions of work, with penalties for improper substitution or failure to specify a subcontractor.

Standardized Prime Contracts

There are quite a few standardized formats of prime contracts. With these standardized formats, you don’t have to worry about compliance – these contracts are proven to cover all areas of contract law for construction contractors in California.

Federal Government Construction Contracts: These contracts, used by various federal agencies, contain standard provisions that are federally formulated and recognized.
American Institute of Architects (AIA) Contract: AIA contracts are another standard form, focusing on agreements between owners and contractors for construction services.

Key Differences Between Prime and Subprime Contracts

Prime contracts involve a direct agreement with the project owner and encompass overall project responsibility, while subprime contracts are agreements between the prime contractor and other specialized contractors for specific project components​​​.

Common Elements in Both Prime and Subprime Contracts

  • Scope of Work: Detailed description of the specific work or services the subcontractor is expected to perform.
  • Payment Terms: Clearly defined payment schedules, amounts, and conditions under which payments will be made.
  • Duration and Schedule: Stipulation of the timeframe for the subcontractor’s work, including start and end dates, and any scheduling requirements.
  • Change Order Procedures: Guidelines on how changes to the scope of work or contract terms are to be handled, including any necessary approvals.
  • Compliance with Laws: Requirement for the subcontractor to comply with all applicable laws, regulations, and building codes.
  • Licensing and Certification: Assurance that the contractor holds all necessary licenses and certifications required for the work.
  • Insurance and Bonding: Specifications of required insurance coverage and bonding the subcontractor must maintain.
  • Indemnification: Clauses that outline responsibilities for liabilities, damages, or losses incurred during the project.
  • Dispute Resolution: Terms for resolving disputes that may arise during the course of the project, including arbitration or litigation procedures.
  • Termination Conditions: Conditions under which either party can terminate the contract, including for breach of contract or failure to meet performance standards.
  • Safety and Quality Standards: Requirements for safety practices and quality standards to be maintained by the subcontractors.

As a contractor, staying legally compliant and making sure that your business is protected from any legal issues is a 24/7 job. In fact, you will probably spend more time working on the bureaucratic side of your contracting business than doing actual contracting work – especially on larger projects.

Knowing the ins and outs of a prime and subprime contract as a contractor is critical to building and maintaining a successful contracting business in 2023. The best advice we can offer is to hire a lawyer to handle all of your contracts, or at least to look them over before you send them out.

Lawyers might cost a little money – okay, they cost a lot of money – but the amount of time, money, and energy they save in the long run means that spending upfront is well worth it.

Additional Reading

Virginia Tech – Prime Contract: Format and Major Components

  • A fantastic primer on the basics of Prime Contract law, with more depth than we can go into in this blog! We recommend this to anyone looking to learn more about this topic.

How To Become A General Contractor After High School In California

What is a General Contractor?

A general contractor in California is responsible for overseeing construction projects, managing subcontractors, and ensuring that a project complies with legal and quality standards.

There are different types of contractor licenses in California, including Class B (General Building Contractor), Class B-2 (Residential Remodeling Contractor), and Class C (Specialty Contractor), each catering to specific aspects of construction work​​.

For this article, we’ll focus on the Class B General Contractors license.

Why Become a General Contractor?

A better question would be – why not? General contractors make good money in California, easily clearing $100k a year in most markets, and becoming a general contractor doesn’t require a 4-year degree or any of the other nonsense that comes along with other high-paying jobs.

For anyone who detests school – but likes building things – being a general contractor is a career that is full of fulfillment and financial rewards. By stepping onto the path to being a Class B licensed general contractor, any high school kid can find themselves in a full-fledged career in just 4 years, making 3-4x what their college-attending peers would.

There’s really so many upsides to being a general contractor – and considering it’s a job that will always be in demand, it’s a great way to futureproof yourself from the rapid change we are all experiencing every day.

What Do You Need To Become a Class B General Contractor?

To become a licensed Class B general contractor in California, you must:

  • Be at least 18 years old.
  • Have four years of experience at the journey level or equivalent.
  • Pass a criminal background check.
  • Pass a licensing exam with a law and business section and a trade-specific section.
  • Possess a $25,000 contractor’s bond.

Straight out of high school, the hardest part of this is gaining the necessary work experience. As you can see, you need at least 4 years of work experience before you can even apply for a CSLB license.

This is going to be the first thing you want to do after you graduate high school – or even if you are still in high school! Four years is the bare minimum here, so getting cracking on your work experience ASAP is critical to becoming a general contractor after high school.

How Long Does It Take To Become A General Contractor After High School

The process of becoming a licensed contractor depends on individual circumstances, such as the amount of relevant experience and the time taken to prepare for the licensing exam, but straight out of high school, with no experience – expect to take at least 5 years until you can become a licensed general contractor.

Generally, four years of industry experience or a combination of work experience and a college degree is required. That means, at the very least, expect to spend at least 4 years working under an experienced GC as you learn the trade to a level where you can set off on your own and become a Class B gen con.

Is College Necessary To Become A General Contractor?

As we’ve covered before – the answer is no.

The beauty of construction work is that you can do the work if you know how to do it and have the correct licensing – there’s no educational requirements or degree requirements to become a general contractor. You only need the proven experience and to prove you know your stuff via the CSLB exam.

That said – while a college degree is wholly unnecessary for recent high school graduates looking to become general contractors, going to school for construction-related education can be hugely beneficial and give you a massive leg-up over your competition. Not only do you learn more hard skills, but university degrees also help you build your network and win more clients through trust.

Degrees like construction management, engineering, or other broad construction degrees can arm you with far more information than you could ever need as a general contractor – fully preparing you for a long and successful career.

Finally, there are even situations where your 4-year degree can stand in for your work experience requirement – contact the CSLB for more information there.

The Quickest Way to Become a General Contractor

The quickest way to become a general contractor after high school is to simply get to work.

Every contractor needs 4 years of experience, so starting work right after you graduate – or even starting work while you’re in school (say, on summer vacation) is the best thing you can do for yourself if you know you want to be a general contractor.

Once you have your 4 years of experience as a journeyman general contractor, the rest is easy. You only have to apply for your license and pass the CSLB exam (which is difficult, to be fair), and before you know it, you’ll be out there as a Class B general contractor!

Additional Documentation For Class B Licensing

You may need to submit additional documentation based on your application’s details, such as statements for any criminal records, unsatisfied judgments, or tax liabilities.

If you have anything that you think the CSLB will flag, either in their background checks or application reviews – anything at all – it’s worth your time to have that paperwork ready to go just in case they request it.

Owner-Builder Certification

If your experience includes “owner-builder” work, you must use a special certification form from the CSLB. If you’re just out of high school, chances are this won’t apply to you – but maybe you did some work with your Dad on your home or something like that, which you can then use towards your work experience.

It’s crucial to be thorough and complete when detailing your work experience, as any inaccuracies or omissions can lead to application rejection, which can add a ton of time.

Educational and Military Experience Credits

As we noted above, educational or apprenticeship programs may grant you credit toward your experience requirement. These are taken on a case-by-case basis by the CSLB and require you to provide substantial paperwork and evidence that this education is actually enough to satisfy the requirements set out by the CSLB.

Similarly, military experience is recognized and can expedite the application process, but unless it’s related to construction work, chances are it won’t be applicable. However, if you were in the military and did some sort of construction work – for example, if you were an engineer in the Seabees – there’s a good chance that can satisfy the experience requirements.


Becoming a general contractor out of high school is one of the safest, smartest career paths an 18-year-old can undertake. Given the perpetual need for general contractors – and the relatively straightforward path to becoming one – there’s no question that a career as a general contractor is a secure one that can reap big rewards for you in the long term.

The key is to get started right away. Work experience is going to take the most amount of time and energy to accrue, so the quicker you can get to working underneath a general contractor, the quicker you can get to becoming a Class B General Contractor. By the time your classmates are graduating college and looking for entry-level jobs, you’ll already be making bank!