Category Archives: Construction

How Much Does It Cost To Be a Certified Contractor in California?

In order to get your contractor license in California, you need to be 18 years old, have 4 years experience of journey-level work, you need to pass the CSLB exams and you have to pay all the associated fees to the CSLB.

While the process to become a California general contractor is simple, there are fees you have to pay in order to legally perform contracting work in California.

Here’s everything you’ll need to pay for to become a contractor certified by the CSLB.

CSLB Exam Fees
The first fees you face when applying for your CSLB license are for the CSLB exam.

It is $450 to take the test to get your CSLB license. This is called the Original Application fee and you have to pay it to become a CSLB certified contractor. 

This fee only applies to one exam and each exam applies to one specific classification, so if you do specialist work that requires a specialist license, you will need to pay this fee twice.

For example, if you are an HVAC specialist contractor, you will have to pay for both the general exam and the HVAC exam in order to do HVAC work in California.

If you fail, you have to pay a $100 Re-Examination fee for every time you want to re-take the exam (in addition to the time it takes to schedule and review your examination). If you fail the exam, the costs add up quickly.

License Fees
Once you pass the exam, there are a number of additional fees you will have to pay to receive your license and start working as a general contractor.

The first one is an Initial License Fee, which is $200 if you are the Sole Owner of your business. If you are a partner in a business, you will have to pay $350 for your CSLB license.

You will also have to pay $32 for the Fingerprinting Fee (a background check) and the FBI Processing Fee of $17. 

Contractor’s Bonds
The final hurdle for getting your CSLB contractor license is to supply a proof of a Contractor’s Bond to the CSLB. 

Contractor’s Bonds are like insurance – you pay a fee in order to be covered financially in the case of a disaster or similar scenario.

In order to be a CSLB-certified California Contractor, you must give the CSLB proof that you have contractor’s bonds worth $25,000. 

Contractor’s bonds will cost you $60 to $600. How much your bonds cost will depend on your credit score.

How much does it cost in total to become a contractor?
In total, it will cost you somewhere in the range of $700 to $1500 to get your Class “B” License and become a California general contractor.

Specialist contractors like electricians, plumbers and masons require a Class “C” license – which requires you to do the entire process all over, making it doubly expensive. Expect to pay $1200 to $2000 for a Class “C” License.

Those costs can rise, too – it costs $100 every time you fail the CSLB test. Save time and money with CSLS’s contractor license courses. Our expert guidance will make sure you pass the test the first time, so you can start making more money right away.

Skills You Need for a Career in Construction

Construction’s a great industry to work in, but it helps if you can start off on the right foot. Although most jobs give you some flexibility, others may require you to spend a lot of time on your feet or working with your hands. Your ability to succeed in your field depends on the skills that you bring to the table. If you’re thinking about starting in construction but you’re not sure if you’re a good candidate, here are a few skills to develop as you decide.

Problem Solving
Like many jobs, construction requires you to solve problems on a regular basis. Some of them might call for you to act quickly, while others demand a thorough analysis and a careful response. You will need to practice different approaches to common issues in your field, so that you are ready to address them as they come. For example, learning how to handle a minor dispute about the details of a contract may help you to avoid escalating it into a major crisis. Although this is something that often comes with experience, the ability to analyze all sides of a problem and draw the best conclusion from there will make it easier to avoid mistakes in the first few years.

Quick Thinking
In most careers, your decisions don’t usually put your coworkers at immediate physical risk. Construction is somewhat unique in this arena. In many construction fields, the decisions that you make from minute to minute can ensure an ideal outcome for your project, or create disastrous consequences for your business and the people working with you. Quick thinking comes with practicing the job, but also analyzing the risks inherent in any particular task. The more you know in advance, the easier it is to make a decision on the fly, when moments matter.

Good Communication
As the owner of a contracting business, you will be communicating with:

  • Prospective and current clients
  • Subcontractors
  • Contractors
  • Employees

You need to be able to get your point across clearly, simply and in the right format. This means studying up on basic communication techniques for emails, phone calls and even text messages. It also includes developing an understanding of the different methods people use to communicate, and which ones are best for the task at hand.

Math and Simple Accounting
If you were a high school student who wondered when you would ever use math knowledge after school, you might be surprised to discover how much you use it in construction. And it’s not just the ability to determine the correct angle or measure something before you cut it. At first, you might be doing a lot of your own finances for your contracting business. Being able to correctly estimate items on an invoice or figure out how much income you need to balance your expenses is a skill you need for your business to survive. You don’t have to be an expert at mental math. You just need the basics, and the ability to find apps that will help you.

Willingness to Learn
You’ll often hear education experts say that they can teach someone how to do something, but they can’t instruct them how to care about learning it. Although construction is an industry that’s been around for thousands of years, it is in a constant state of change. New technologies, equipment and building practices are always just over the next horizon. This means that once you’ve mastered the skill, there’s a high likelihood that you will need to relearn it in a different way within a few years. The ability to do this, and the eagerness to do so, can help ensure that your skills remain current and that your business can stay relevant with the changes.

Building a career in construction calls for a lot of basic skills that you may already have. To see if you’ve got what it takes to start your own contracting business, visit CSLS today!

The 5 Hardest Jobs in Construction

Construction was never known as an industry where you could work for your whole life and never wear out or need to slow down. Yet, there are certain jobs that are much harder on you, or simply harder for you to do. In many cases, the safety of the various tasks and the location of the work determine how complicated it can be. These five jobs may be rewarding, but there’s no doubt that you’ll put in a lot more to succeed at them.

Everyone needs a roof and they don’t last a hugely long time, depending on the material. This means that there is usually a good market for roofing. It also happens to be one of the most dangerous jobs in construction, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. You need a lot of physical strength and stamina to keep laying the next shingle, tile or panel. You’re also doing it from at least 15-20 feet above the ground. This is why roofers tend to have the most accidents and annual fatalities among all construction fields. It’s also why contractors themselves label it the hardest job.

Demolition is a big part of construction, especially in heavily-populated areas where you must knock something down to build something else. People who work in this field need to use heavy equipment that can be difficult to employ but also hard on the arms and back. The complication of the position involves:

  • demolishing portions of a building without destroying the whole thing
  • avoiding bringing the building down on people inside it
  • proper disposal practices, particularly for hazardous items like asbestos insulation

Many other construction fields feature demolition as a subsidiary component. For example, a roofer may demolish the old roof before installing new. But it is also a field on its own.

Some positions, like working as an electrician, are tricky but not necessarily as physically demanding. This is good because you really need to know what you’re doing when you take this job. The complication depends on the work you do. Many electricians work independently in new construction, maintenance or repair. Most will specialize but some will take a variety of projects. Others may become employees in companies that need testing or repair for complex instruments. In any of these approaches, you’re thinking not just about your own safety but that of everyone who will use it going forward.

Carpentry is a physically demanding job that is also highly variable. What you do depends entirely on the job you take, and you might be doing completely different tasks every day. Framing a house sounds like one task, but it requires an understanding of how to build walls, floors, stairs, windows, doors, etc. This doesn’t include all the artistic design and shaping that many carpenters also employ, for kitchens, staircases and the like. Learning to construct a sturdy frame requires a unique skillset than what’s needed than to turn a beautiful post as part of an historic renovation.

Like carpentry, ironworkers keep a mix of complication and hard work. Ironworkers have injury rates not far off from roofers because they also often work from higher locations while a building is in progress. Like welders, they are at higher risk for cuts and burns from the equipment they use. And even if they follow all safety protocol, they still have to lift, carry and position heavy pieces of steel needed during construction.

Choosing a job in construction often means work that will push you to your limits, in good and possibly dangerous ways. To start on the path to a job that’s right for you, visit CSLS today!

Is Construction a Good Career to Start During a Recession?

The beginning of a recession, or even a minor economic downturn, is never the best time to be looking for any job. Although the construction industry can be one that gets hit harder when finances everywhere are tight, that doesn’t mean it’s a bad career choice overall. When you see professionals who have been doing this for 30 or 40 years, you know that they’ve stuck with it through all kinds of economic conditions. It’s reasonable to think that you can too. If you’re worried that a recession means you need to pick a different career, there are reasons to be positive about this one. Here are a few things to consider as you make a choice.

Construction’s Labor Shortage Isn’t Going Away Anytime Soon
The construction industry has a labor shortage that extends back several years. Specifically, this labor shortage began after millions of skilled workers left the industry during the housing crisis. The length of time that the industry has spent trying to fill this gap shows you that it’s not going to go away overnight. Although a recession often leads to a decrease in new construction starts, there are still a lot of projects in the pipeline. That means that the industry still needs a lot more people than it has now.

Recessions Don’t Hit All Fields in the Same Way
When pondering a recession, financial experts tend to talk about industries in very broad terms. But if you make career decisions based on those terms, you might end up cheating yourself out of a good career. In truth, certain parts of an industry may be affected very differently than other parts. For example, if you know that homeowners and businesses will still need maintenance on various aspects of the buildings they own, you can imagine that related fields will not disappear overnight. This is particularly true for fields where there already weren’t enough qualified workers, like electricians.

Economic Improvements Reward the Ambitious
Have you ever missed a big opportunity because you were a little late to decide? This happens all the time throughout your life. Recessions don’t last forever, which means that there will be a turning point where economic conditions start to get better. This is where you’ll see new business owners and homeowners with better financial backing looking for qualified contracting businesses available to meet their increasing needs. If you are already established and ready to help, you will be more likely to be able to take those opportunities than someone who waited a few years to see what happens.

Investing in Education Opens Doors
Some people know what they want to do with their lives by the end of elementary school and are able to build careers to meet those expectations flawlessly. But for most people, settling on the career they want to keep for a lifetime takes at least a little trial and error. The best way to set yourself up for where you want to go is to invest in your education. If you were already close to getting your contractor’s license, there really isn’t anything stopping you from seeing how that works. As with anything, the attempts that you make to find a career that don’t pan out give you practical tips for the future. That means that anything you do right now to learn more and invest in your skills has the potential for a big payoff later.

Economic Downturns Don’t Last Forever
When you’re in the middle of a recession, it feels like one month of struggle lasts a year. But in reality, the worst of a recession or economic downturn often runs for a year or two, after which it gets better. And when that happens, you’ll see that backlog of new construction starts burst through. If you are ready to take advantage of it, you’ll be in a much better position to establish your business and set yourself up for a great long-term career in construction.

Recessions can be difficult, but they don’t have to ruin your career plans. If you’re ready to find out how construction can get through all kinds of economic situations, visit CSLS today!

5 Ways to Work With the Community During Large-Scale Construction Projects

When you make arrangements to work on a large-scale construction project, you’ll probably work with a lot of invested parties. The property owner, the client, the city or state in some cases. You may be the general contractor, or you might be subcontracting under another professional. But what about the community? Construction projects that are high-profile or take a long time need the community’s support to minimize problems. Here are five ways you can ensure that you cause the least disruption.

Identify the Flow Around the Jobsite
If the jobsite is in a relatively remote area, there might not be a lot of homes or businesses around it. But if you are in a suburban or urban part of the region, there will be a lot of things happening near the jobsite. Your task is to figure out what they are. Identifying things like:

  • Traffic patterns
  • Parking needs
  • Pedestrian walkways

will help you figure out where people are most likely to be while you are trying to get your work done. You may need to visit the site on different days and different times of the day to gain a full picture of what you can expect.

Minimize Immediate Impacts
If you want to have the least negative impact on the community surrounding you, the best way to do this is to imagine what you would want if you lived there. Think about how you feel about rude tourists taking over your neighborhood. They take up all the parking, they exhaust local resources, and they leave a lot of garbage behind. Unfortunately, people who come to an area to work temporarily can often create the same kinds of problems. If you’re a member of the community, then you feel more responsible for making sure these kinds of things don’t happen as a part of your business.

Make Safety a Priority
As a construction professional, you are used to making safety a priority for yourself and your employees. If you’re located in an area where there are a lot of people passing by, you must also pay attention to their safety. For example, construction that happens on or near the roads can affect traffic. Making sure the pedestrians, drivers and bicyclists have appropriate signage and direction can help keep them from interfering with your work. It also increases the likelihood that they will avoid harm while you are operating in such close proximity to them.

Be Mindful of Project Completion Timelines
As a resident, you have likely had to deal with construction projects that impeded traffic or other movement that ended much later than expected. While overrun in your schedule is an extremely common part of the construction industry, that doesn’t mean that the community will automatically support it. For projects that make it difficult for people to get to and from home or work, especially those that require a change of route, it’s important to pay attention to how much time you need to complete it. Giving a more accurate estimate increases your credibility and minimizes frustration in the community.

Support Local Businesses

Taking over a small part of an urban center is likely to impact local businesses as well as residents. If you can find ways to provide some extra support for those businesses, you can reduce the negative impact that it has on their income. For example, you can search out local suppliers for materials and rental equipment. You can even plan to eat lunch at local restaurants. Just keep in mind that as a member of the community, you want to make sure that the way that you engage with these businesses remains positive throughout the project.

Construction projects have a way of spreading effects throughout the community. If you focus on your efforts, you can ensure that the impact is generally supportive of community needs. For more information about building a successful contracting business, visit CSLS today!


What’s Buried Under Your Construction Site?

Finding toxic waste or hazardous materials isn’t the only disturbing thing you might find as you dig into a construction site. In many parts of the country, people start work on a construction project only to learn that it was a sacred burial ground long ago. There may be laws you have to follow when you discover such things, especially if they involve human remains. Here’s a few tips that will help you keep your head and your project on schedule.

Consider Testing Before You Dig
You can often avoid a lot of problems simply by doing some research in advance of the project. If you’re subcontracting, you might not have as much say in the process before you start. Otherwise, consider getting a sense for what might be under the surface. Soil testing helps to reveal possible contaminants or toxins that could cause problems once they come out of the ground. If you’re worried that you might be disrupting an old graveyard or burial ground, look at old surveys of the property. You might even be able to see old pictures to give you more information.

Research Local Rules
In California, this practice is common enough that there may be state and local guidelines in place to guide your actions. In September 2019, workers participating in a project to widen the 405 in Orange County found remains they believed to come from Indigenous Americans. The law dictates that they were unable to release information about the location or what they found except to local authorities. Investigate state laws concerning finding human remains, and see if the city or county has a task force that helps to handle the situation. This will help ensure that you can manage things without making yourself liable.

Create a Plan of Action
No one expects to dig into the ground and find bones unless they’re working in a field like archeology or anthropology. This means that you and your employees might be surprised or even shocked by the presence of remains. It’s best to start with a plan of action. Tell your employees that if they find remains, they should:

  • stop work at the site immediately
  • alert local authorities
  • avoid telling anyone about the site

This can happen in almost any part of the state. Dry areas can preserve bones for millennia, which means that you may have no idea what is lurking beneath 10 or even 15 feet of dirt.

Avoid Disturbing the Site
Really old remains look quite different from bones of those who died a few years ago. Besides that distinction, you may have no idea exactly what you have found. That is why you should leave it alone as soon as you find it, until authorities have a chance to investigate. It may not be human remains. It could be a burial ground. It might be evidence of a crime. Leaving the remains as they are allows investigators to determine the most information, including whether or not they should do additional digging to search for other remains.

Keep Information Discreet
Once you’ve alerted the authorities, it is not necessarily obvious what will be the next course of action. You may need to let the client know that there has been a delay, although local guidelines will determine how much information you can give them. Officials usually like to keep these finds quiet at first, as a way to avoid further disruption of the site. Although it may be difficult not to go rushing to the newspapers with the story, you may find it makes sense. For your own workflow, you don’t want a flood of tourists arriving to traipse through your worksite once you get clearance to continue.

There are lots of things hiding under the surface that you might not know about. Research in advance can help flush out a few possibilities, but you won’t know everything until you dig. Making a plan helps you avoid finding more than you bargained for. To dig into a construction career you’ll enjoy for years to come, visit CSLS today!