Category Archives: Construction

C-53 Swimming Pool Contractor License Guide

As the warmer months approach, more and more we’ve all got swimming pools on the brain. Soon, all over California, contractors are going to be hit with familiar questions and requests about swimming pool construction, installation, and repairs.

If you’ve been meaning to dive deep into some details about the C-53 swimming pool contractor license then you’ve come to the right place.

This guide highlights information about the application process for the C-53 license, which authorities oversee swimming pool construction, and how it all affects routine workflow for general contractors.

What is the C-53 Swimming Pool Contractor License?

The C-53 Swimming Pool Contractor License is a specialized classification issued by the Contractors State License Board (CSLB).

With this license in hand, contractors are legally cleared to build, install, and repair pools and spas for both residential and commercial projects.

Licensed swimming pool contractors have been required to demonstrate specific expertise in excavation, plumbing, electrical work, concrete pouring, and pool finishing.

The training and exam requirements for this license are rigorous and thorough to ensure the safe and proper installation of swimming facilities.

Getting the C-53 License

Basic Requirements for C-53 Applicants

  • Applicants must be at least 18 years old.
  • They must also have a valid Social Security Number or Individual Tax I.D. Number.
  • They must have relevant work experience or education in swimming pool construction.

The C-53 Exam Requirements

  • Applicants must pass the CSLB’s Law and Business Exam as well as the C-53 Swimming Pool Contractor License Exam, which assesses knowledge of swimming pool construction, safety regulations, and business practices.

Submitting a Complete and Accurate Application

  • Once the applicant has received a passing score of 72% or above, they must submit a complete and accurate license application to the CSLB.
  • Along with their application, the C-53 swimming pool contractor hopeful must also submit supporting documents proving adequate experience, education, and financial stability.

Agreeing to a Background Check

  • The CSLB conducts a background check to verify the applicant’s qualifications and ensure compliance with licensing requirements.

Receiving the C-53 License Issued by the CSLB

  • Upon approval, the CSLB will issue the C-53 Swimming Pool Contractor License, which allows the contractor to get going. At that point, they can legally operate in California.

Do All General Contractors Need the C-53 License?

Seasonally, it sure may seem like every contractor needs the expertise that comes with the C-53 license. But more realistically, the answer is no.

General contractors may have specialized expertise in various construction trades, but it is by no means a requirement for them to secure the C-53 license to carry out their work day-to-day.

When working on a construction project that involves pool-related tasks beyond the scope of their existing licenses, a general contractor has the opportunity to subcontract that labor to ensure compliance with the CSLB.

Any pool-related contractor work exceeding $500 in labor and materials must be handled by C-53 Swimming Pool Contractor Licensees only.

Hypothetically speaking, if a general contractor attempted to take on work that was clearly outside the scope of what their existing license covered, that would be considered unlicensed contractor work.

Performing contractor work like this without the appropriate license is dangerous and illegal. It’s a public safety issue that the CSLB takes very seriously.

The board urges consumers against hiring unlicensed contractors as this practice poses risks such as substandard workmanship, safety hazards, and legal liabilities for property owners.

Authority Over Swimming Pool Construction Codes and Regulations in California

If you’ve ever wondered who is in charge of overseeing swimming pool construction codes and regulations in California it happens to be the California Building Standards Commission (CBSC).

The CBSC adopts and maintains the California Building Standards Code (Title 24 of the California Code of Regulations), which includes regulations governing the design, construction, and safety of swimming pools and spas.

Local building departments enforce these regulations to ensure compliance with state and municipal codes for the sake of public health and safety.


Contractors and businesses intending to work on swimming pool construction in California must apply for the C-53 Swimming Pool Contractor License.

Alternatively, general contractors can hire a C-53 subcontractor to handle any pool-related construction work involved with their projects to ensure that the appropriate expertise and legal and safety compliance are all covered on the job site.

Following the proper licensing process, sticking with all necessary regulations, and upholding professional standards promise high-quality swimming pool contractor services and ensure compliance with state laws and regulations.

The CSLB strongly urges property owners to hire contractors who are licensed in the specific type of construction work that needs to be performed.

So for the safety and integrity of swimming pool projects across California, the CSLB requires that C-53 licensed contractors be brought in for the pool-related jobs.

What Happens If A Contractor Loses Their License?

It’s inconvenient, we know, but it happens. When a contractor loses their license, the situation can stir up panic, concern, and general overwhelm.

Even if you are a licensed contractor in good standing, understanding the implications of losing a license can be extremely valuable to you as you navigate your career.

Being armed with this vital information will help you if you or someone you know suddenly come face-to-face with the frustrating experience of losing a contractor license.

In this guide, we’ll walk you through each possible status for a contractor’s license according to the Contractors State License Board (CSLB). Additionally, we’ll cover common reasons licenses get revoked and key regulations concerning unlicensed contractors in California.

Understanding Contractor License Status


This is where you want to be. Once the CSLB issues you a valid and active contractor license, the hope is that all goes well and you can operate as a contractor, uninterrupted, until it’s time to renew.


Sometimes when personal plans or circumstances change, a licensee may voluntarily switch their license status to inactive. This option is for contractors who want to cease contracting activities temporarily while preserving the opportunity to reactivate at a later time.


This is where you would rather not be. It’s not the end of the world, but it’s not ideal either. This status means your license has been temporarily revoked. And you get bumped to this status in the wake of a violation or any kind of general non-compliance with regulations.


This one is tough. It’s a permanent cancellation of the license. Usually, a licensee gets bumped to this status after a serious violation or criminal activity.

Common Reasons Why a Contractor May Lose Their License

As mentioned above, it’s usually a serious violation or a crime that causes a contractor to lose their license. But here are a few specific reasons that frequently result in license revocation for contractors, just to give you an idea of what to expect:

CSLB Requirements for Reactivating Contractor Licenses

This is the golden information you’ll want to keep handy to help yourself out — or to help whomever it is in your life facing this conflict — when a contractor’s license is no longer valid.

In order to reactivate a license, the contractor to whom that license is issued must meet the following CSLB requirements:

  • Any/all disciplinary actions or violations need to be resolved.
  • Any necessary continuing education courses must be completed.
  • Any necessary fees, including renewal and penalty charges, must be paid.
  • A demonstration of full compliance with CSLB regulations.

Can Unlicensed Contractors Work in California?

If you do not have a contractor’s license or if you lose your contractor’s license, you cannot legally work on construction projects that exceed $500 in labor and materials.

Working as an unlicensed contractor is strongly discouraged and the consequences of doing so involve serious penalties.

Property owners are also strongly discouraged from hiring unlicensed contractors because it’s dangerous, promotes substandard workmanship, and may cause them to take on unnecessary legal liabilities.

The CSLB works hard to enforce laws against unlicensed contracting in California through sting operations and investigations.

The contractor’s board will slap an unlicensed contractor with fines, misdemeanor charges, and injunctions without hesitation.

The CSLB also promotes consumer protection. It provides resources to help consumers educate themselves about the risks of hiring unlicensed contractors.


When a contractor loses their license, it can be terribly inconvenient. But there are manageable ways to rectify the situation if the contractor so chooses.

Developing a solid understanding of license statuses, license reactivation requirements, and CSLB policies could help contractors back in good standing quickly or help them sustain a valid and active status before anything goes awry.

Remaining in compliance with the CSLB and avoiding criminal activity relating to construction will make life easier and help you stand out in a positive way during the hiring process.

Other contractors will recognize your commitment to upholding professional standards as you protect your license and contribute to a safe, responsible work culture in the construction business in California.

Contractor Advertising Do’s and Don’t’s

When it comes to growing your contracting business, advertising is one of the quickest and easiest ways to get your name out there and bring in new business from people who otherwise wouldn’t have even known you existed!

The good thing about advertising is that most advertising is good advertising. In the contracting world, the reality is that simply having any kind of advertising is going to bring people into your business, so long as you have your business basics down.

As you probably know, however, marketing and advertising could be what sets you apart from other contractors. After all, what is advertising but selling someone on your services? If you can sell your business better than your competitor, you’re going to make more money!

With that in mind, here are some basic do’s and don’ts when it comes to advertising your construction business.

Contractor Advertising Do’s

Keep It Clean

Keep all of your advertising clean and direct, with all of the most important information front and center. There should never be any confusion about who you are or what services you offer. The best way to do that is to keep your advertising as clean and obvious as possible.

A clean design not only captures attention and gives your audience information, but it also implies professionalism and attention to detail, qualities highly valued in construction. Much like a beautiful hotel lobby, a high-quality, clean ad tells audiences to expect the same level of quality in your construction.

For instance, BCC and JDG Construction showcase services and projects using clean, simple designs that make navigation effortless for users​ – see examples in this article by Evenbound. Especially in construction, a clean, minimal approach minimizes distractions and focuses on what matters most to potential clients: your work, your quality, and your value.

Call In A Marketing Expert

You wouldn’t try to install high-voltage powerlines if you’re a framing contractor, so why would you try to plan, conceptualize, design, launch, and iterate on an effective advertising campaign?

As you would with hiring a trusted subcontractor to do specialty work on a construction site, engaging with an advertising professional is a no-brainer. These experts can be critical to help you deploy advertising in the most cost-effective, highest-value way, so you can get the most bang for your buck.

While anyone can launch an ad on Google, only the experts can do it right. When getting started, we can’t recommend consulting with a local marketing firm enough.

K.I.S.S. With Your Ads

The KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid) principle applies perfectly to advertising – just as it does in almost every other area of life.

When planning out your advertising campaigns, always keep things clear and simple. Focus on one or two services that you provide, so that your audience isn’t overwhelmed with too many messages, services, or value propositions.

Wondering if your message is clear and simple enough? Test it out on your friends and family – they’ll set you straight if there’s anything confusing, misleading, or otherwise out of place when it comes to your ad.

Give People a Way to Find You

If people don’t know how to reach you, they’re never going to hire you! No matter where your potential clients interact with your marketing or advertising, always make sure you leave them with an easy, clear way to find you.

Including clear contact information and calls to action in your advertisements is critical. Don’t use excessive language, and especially avoid confusing or hard-to-read email addresses or websites. As we’ve covered already, simple is smashing.

Make sure your phones and emails are up-to-date and functional. And make sure you pick up when someone calls, or reply to email/text inquiries within 24 hours, preferably sooner!

Include Your License Number On Everything

As we’ve covered before on this blog, your contractor’s license number is how people know you’re legit and worth trusting with their project (and their money!).

On every single piece of marketing or advertising you put out in the world, you absolutely must include your contractor license number.

By including your license number on your advertising, your audience can immediately verify that you are worth considering for a job – as most people will decide that an unlicensed contractor isn’t worth their time (and they’re right!).

Target Your Ads

In 2024, you’re probably already targeting your digital ads on platforms like Facebook, Google, and so on. And if you’re not – you’re wasting money, energy, and time as your ads bounce off people who have no interest in your services.

Targeting really isn’t that complicated – you want to advertise to people in your area who are looking for your services. You can simply set your ad’s settings to be shown to people who fit in your target market (people who want your services).

Spread Your Reach Across Platforms

The more ways you get seen, the better – which is why construction contractors are encouraged to take what’s called an omnichannel approach.

Omnichannel marketing involves leveraging both traditional (such as print, billboards, and business cards) and digital platforms (like Facebook and Instagram) to optimize your marketing reach.

It’s common sense. The more platforms your company can be advertising on, the more potential customers you can reach, while also improving your targeting by reaching your customers where they are.

Establish Goals and Track Them

How are you going to measure success when it comes to advertising your construction business? The only way is to have measurable, trackable, specific goals that allow you to find out whether your campaigns are working or not.

Setting and tracking specific goals, such as lead generation or awareness, allows you to measure the effectiveness of your advertising efforts and adjust strategies as needed. This way you can decide whether to keep spending money on a specific campaign or initiative or stop and put those resources elsewhere.

Review and Iterate

Once your campaigns are live, it’s critical you don’t just set them and forget them. Like a construction project, they must be continuously maintained, repaired, and improved upon for maximal results.

Tools like Google Analytics offer invaluable insights into campaign performance, enabling you to change your ads and improve them.

Construction Contractor Advertising Don’ts

Avoid Gimmicks

Gimmicky advertising can diminish your brand’s credibility, despite potentially catching the eye. While gimmicks may be a powerful tool in products or other businesses, for construction contractors, it’s not good.

Your clients don’t want someone gimmicky to build your second-story deck or stop your house from flooding. People look for someone they can trust and respect. Authenticity and transparency should be at the core of your advertising efforts to build lasting relationships with your clientele, so leave the gimmicks for Cash4Gold.

Underinvest in Basic Branding

Your brand is your identity – it’s what people associate with you as a contractor, so you want to make it trustworthy and memorable… Skimping on foundational branding elements like a logo, color scheme, and messaging can make your advertising efforts feel disjointed and ineffective.

Just as we recommended hiring a marketing consultant or expert to help you better strategize your efforts, don’t skimp on paying a professional to make sure your branding is on point. It’s like a clean shave or a tucked-in shirt – good branding goes a long way for clients.

Go After Your Competitors

Nobody wants to hire a negative Nancy. Negative advertising that targets competitors can backfire, damaging your own reputation and alienating potential clients.

Don’t bother attacking your competitors. It just looks cheap and caddy. If you are simply better at your job, you will beat your competition in the long run.
Waste Money On Ads That Aren’t Performing

Investing in ads and platforms that do not align with your target audience’s preferences is inefficient, and will often result in you not getting the returns you hoped for. As we mentioned earlier, constant review and iteration of your advertising is essential to make sure you’re not throwing money down the drain.

Make sure you (or someone you hire) are constantly reviewing the data about your marketing efforts (this is tied to having measurable goals!), and taking steps to cut the wheat from the chaff.

Post Controversial Content

This should be obvious, but keep your business’s social media and marketing channels clean and non-controversial. Posting about politics or the latest gossip will result in a hit to your reputation. You will alienate people from hiring you.

As we all know, construction workers often have a loud mouth. Our advice – if you want to be successful – is to keep your mouth shut, keep your head down, and deliver fantastic results to your clients. All your personal beliefs should stay at home.

The CSLB C-13 Fencing License: A Comprehensive Guide

Looking to jump into the world of fencing in California? You’re in luck.

In this guide, we’ll cover the basic nuts and bolts of getting your C-13 Fencing Contractor license in California, so you can start making money putting up fences in your area today!

What is a C-13 Fencing License?

The C-13 Fencing License is the license issued by the California Contractors State License Board (CSLB) to cover all areas around constructing both permanent and temporary fences.

A C-13 license authorizes contractors to construct, erect, alter, or repair all types of fences, including but not limited to, wood, metal, and vinyl fences, as well as gates, railings, and related structures​​​.

Note that the C-13 license only applies to fences – it does not cover walls or other structural elements that are similar to fences but have additional structural features.

Who Needs a C-13 License?

Any contractors who work on fencing projects where the total cost (labor and materials) exceeds $500 must obtain a C-13 Fencing License in California. There are no exceptions to this rule – if you are building a fence, you need a C-13 license.

If you’re a homeowner constructing your own fence, you still need a C-13 contractor’s license if your construction project costs over $500 in materials and labor. Most fences will cost at least $500 to build, no matter the size or shape of your property, so homeowners will need to hire a licensed C-13 contractor to install their fence, or get their own C-13 license.

Types of Fences Covered by the C-13 License

A C-13 license covers all types of fences in California, including:

  • Wood fences
  • Metal fences (e.g., steel, aluminum)
  • Vinyl fences
  • Chain-link fences
  • Agricultural fences
  • Cattle fences
  • Ornamental fences
  • Gates, doors and other fence-related construction

It’s important to note that the C-13 license doesn’t include walls in any way, shape, or form – that is a license covered by the C-9 Drywall Contractor license, C-29 Masonry Contractor license, or Class B General Contractor license. The C-13 license only covers fences; for anything that is thicker than a fence, is part of the structure of a build, or is a load-bearing structure, an additional license is required.

Construction Jobs You Can Do with a C-13 License

The C-13 license isn’t just about smacking stakes into the ground. There are a ton of small and large jobs that are covered by the C-13 license, from full installation to simple maintenance.

  • Planning and estimating fencing projects
  • Job site layout and marking
  • Post and concrete footing installation
  • Installation, maintenance, and repair of fences and gates, piece-meal
  • Ensuring compliance with safety regulations​​ by subcontractors
  • Temporary fencing installation and removal, such as chain-link fences on job sites

If it involves a fence, you can do work on it – the point is that there are many different small or large jobs to do as a fencing contractor.
Daily Tasks of a C-13 License Holder

Here’s some of the day-to-day tasks you can expect as a C-13 licensed contractor:

  • Consulting with clients to discuss fencing needs and options
  • Measuring and marking fence lines and post locations
  • Digging postholes and setting posts in concrete
  • Attaching fence panels or sections to posts
  • Installing gates and hardware
  • Performing maintenance and repair work on existing fences​.
  • Removing and breaking down temporary fences
  • Dealing with daily logistical and financial details of construction work
  • Budgeting, quoting, negotiating, acquiring, and transporting construction materials

Additional Licenses to Consider For C-13 Fencing Contractors

Like with so many other construction trades, the C-13 license can dovetail very effectively with other contracting disciplines. Here’s some licenses you can hold to easily leverage your C-13 license on a project and pick up multiple revenue streams on a single job.

C-27 Landscaping Contractor License

  • Scope of Work: The C-27 Landscaping license allows contractors to construct, maintain, repair, install, or subcontract the development of landscape systems and facilities for public and private gardens and other areas designed to enhance the appearance of the outdoor environment​.
  • Related Services: Landscaping contractors can offer services such as garden design, irrigation systems installation, outdoor lighting, and hardscaping, which can be integrated with fencing projects for a complete outdoor solution. Since many homeowners are looking to do backyard remodels all at once, being able to package these services together makes it extremely easy for your client.

C-33 Painting and Decorating Contractor License

  • Scope of Work: The C-33 Painting and Decorating license covers the application of paint, wallpaper, and other finishes to protect, maintain, or decorate surfaces of buildings and structures​.
  • Related Services: Painting and decorating contractors can provide services like staining or painting fences, which can be an important aspect of fence maintenance and aesthetic appeal. Most people want painted fences, so you can deliver that to them at the same time you’re installing the fence!

Class B General Building Contractor License

  • Scope of Work: The Class B General Building Contractor license allows contractors to build or remodel buildings or structures, including the installation of fencing as part of a larger construction project​.
  • Related Services: General building contractors can oversee the construction of entire properties, including fencing, decking, and other outdoor structures. Again, by offering clients a comprehensive construction service for their backyard, you can capture revenue that would otherwise go to a different contractor.

How to Become a C-13 Fencing Contractor

Here are the requirements to get your C-13 fencing contractor license:

  • Be at least 18 years old.
  • Have a valid driver’s license or state-issued ID.
  • Have a Social Security or ITIN number.
  • Not be on probation or parole.
  • The CSLB may make an exception as they take criminal records on a case-by-case basis
  • Have 4 years of journey-level experience in fencing, or 3 years’ education in fencing and 1 year on-the-job training
  • Have a certifier – known as the Qualifying Individual – to sign off on your experience.
  • Be prepared to submit documentation supporting your experience if requested by the CSLB​.

These are the basic facts you need to know to start your journey of becoming a licensed C-13 Fencing contractor in California. For more detailed information on the C-13 license (and the world of California contracting), head over to the CSLB’s website – they’ll have everything you need to get started.

General Contractor License Exam Prep: A Comprehensive Guide for 2024

If you’re feeling overwhelmed in anticipation of taking the contractor license exam, fear not! You are not alone! For a lot of us, just the word “exam” is enough to trigger a gag reflex.

The Contractor State License Board (CSLB) offers a ton of great exam prep advice that can help contractor’s license applicants show up and do their best on test day.

As a supplement to that helpful guidance, keep reading to take in some valuable tips and insights from us along with a few additional study resources that should help you ease stress and ace your test.

Understand Your Test-Taking Environment

  • Mentally prepare for the whole situation that you’re walking yourself into. You won’t have a reason to panic if you go into your exam knowing what to expect.
  • Your qualifying exam has to be taken in person at one of the CSLB’s PSI locations.
  • In California, there are test centers in Agoura Hills, Atascadero, Bakersfield, Carson, Diamond Bar, El Monte/Santa Fe Springs, Fresno, Irvine, Lawndale, Redding, Riverside, Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco, Santa Clara, Santa Rosa, Union City, Ventura, Visalia, and Walnut Creek.
  • When you arrive, you will be asked to provide a form of I.D. Here are the acceptable forms of government-issued I.D. that will be accepted on the day of your test:
    • U.S. Driver’s License (any state)
    • U.S. state-issued I.D. card (any state)
    • Government-issued passport (booklet or card)
    • U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Resident Alien Card (AKA green card or permanent resident card)
    • U.S. military I.D.
    • U.S.-issued Employment Authorization Card
  • Just FYI, your contractor license exam will not be a paper test. All exams are taken on a computer. And every test is multiple-choice.
  • You get 3.5 hours to complete your exam, and it’s good to use all the time that you need.

Take Advantage of Study Guides and Practice Tests

There are plenty of study guides online that can help you get ready and pass on the first try.

These study guides include:

  • An overview of the exam content
  • Testing policies and if the exam is open or closed book
  • Test strategy guidance
  • Exam sample questions
  • Additional study resources

And if you’re interested in checking out online practice exams, there are countless options available to you. We recommend getting as much practice as you can so that you can receive a passing score and keep your contractor license application process moving right along.

Attacking the Multiple Choice Exam Format

  • As we mentioned above, the test consists of multiple-choice questions. Here’s a helpful tip that applies to any kind of multiple-choice test:
  • Review every question before you look at any of the multiple-choice answer options.
  • The reason for this? Well, your head is going to be full of information based on what you’ve worked so hard to study and reviewed in your exam prep courses. Your head is already full of correct answers.
  • After reading every question and letting your mind settle into what is actually being asked on the exam, it is good to return to the first question and begin attacking the multiple-choice questions.

Understanding the General Contractor License Exam Content

All of the CSLB exams test qualifying individuals on their knowledge and practical familiarity with the trade they’ve chosen. General contractors who are going for the B – General Building Contractor License must pass both the Law and Business section and the Trade section.

We provide a full breakdown of what is covered on the CSLB exam in regards to the Law and Business and the Trade sections respectively here in our post about What to Expect From the CSLB Exam: The Essential Facts.

If You Pass vs. If You Do Not Pass

If You Pass

  • Congratulations! If you received a passing score of 72% or above, you will know right away at the end of your exam. You will receive a printed report displaying your results.
  • After you’ve passed your exam, you will receive a Bond and Fee letter in the mail that will say what else the CSLB needs from you before issuing you a contractor license.

If You Do Not Pass

  • You will be eligible to retake the exam as many times as necessary within an 18-month window.
  • After you fail a test, you’ll get a re-examination form and instructions on how to pay any necessary fees involved with retaking the exam.
  • cOnce the CSLB receives your fees, it takes at least 3 weeks from your last failed exam to get your exam eligibility sent to PSI. Once that 3 week waiting period is finished, you will be able to reschedule the exam online or by phone at (877) 392-6422.


Tests can be stressful but the CSLB general contractor license exam is nothing you can’t handle.

There is a plethora of resources available online and you can give yourself access to tons of in-person support as well.

Once you’ve taken in your study guides and digested the material from your exam courses, the key is to remain positive and confident in what you know.

And even if your score comes in below 72% and you fail the contractor license exam, the opportunity to retake the exam is there for you.

Be patient, remain calm, and stay committed to this process because on the other side of passing your contractor license exam, a fulfilling career as a licensed contractor awaits.

Additional Study Resources for Contractor License Exam Prep:

CSLB: Studying for the Examination
Builder’s Book, Inc: Contractor’s License Exam
California Contractor General Building (B) Exam: A Complete Prep Guide
Contractors License Study Guide 2024-2025
BNi Building News: License & Exam Prep

The C-16 Fire Protection Contractor Guide

If you’re in the process of deciding whether or not to hire a C-16 Fire Protection Contractor or if you’re considering pursuing this special class license for yourself, we’re here to tell you that this category of contractor work is extremely valuable and important in the construction business.

We put together this comprehensive guide to articulate the responsibilities, licensing requirements, and renewal procedures (and associated fees) involved with this special classification of contractor work.

This article will also provide continuing education resources for anyone out there who might be aspiring to become C-16 license holders in California.

What Jobs Can You Do as a C-16 Contractor?

1. Installation of Fire Sprinkler Systems
C-16 contractors design, install, and maintain fire sprinkler systems in residential, commercial, and industrial buildings. They can select appropriate sprinkler types, position them strategically, and ensure compliance with regulatory standards.

2. Fire Alarm Installation and Maintenance
C-16 contractors are trained and legally permitted to install, test, and maintain fire alarm systems. They assess building layouts, design alarm configurations and troubleshoot issues to ensure reliable operation in emergency situations.

3. Fire Suppression Systems
C-16 contractors oversee the installation and servicing of fire suppression systems, such as:

  • foam systems
  • gas suppression systems
  • water mist systems.

They make sure these systems are properly configured to extinguish fires effectively while minimizing property damage.

How Do You Get a C-16 License in California?

1. Meet Eligibility Criteria
If you want to become a qualifying individual for a C-16 license, you must have at least four years of journey-level experience in the fire protection trade or equivalent education and experience. You must also be at least 18 years old and eligible to work in the state of California.

2. Submit Application
You must submit a completed and accurate application form along with supporting documentation to the California Contractors State License Board (CSLB).

You must also pay the license application fee of $330 — the initial license fee is $200 for 2 years.

3. Pass Your Exam
You are required to pass the business/law exam and the specific trade exam for this license classification, which covers trade knowledge, safety regulations, and business practices.

If you must retake your exam, there is a retake fee of $60.

4. Complete Fingerprinting and Background Check Process
Fingerprinting is required for the background check involved with this application process as it is required that applicants for this license have no criminal record. We’re sorry, we don’t make the rules.

5. Secure License Bond(s) and Proof of Worker’s Compensation Coverage
After receiving a passing score on the exam, the applicant must obtain a contractor’s license bond and meet insurance coverage requirements.

For this bit, check out our post, What Bonds Do I Need as a California Contractor in 2024 for more details about securing license bonds.

Also, check out this information from the CSLB and Senate Bill 216 about which special class licenses are now required to carry proof of worker’s compensation coverage whether or not they have employees.

It is not required for a C-16 contractor to carry their own worker’s compensation coverage, but it is strongly encouraged. It may also set you apart in the hiring process in a positive way as it builds trust with the client and lessens their liability while the construction work is in progress.

How Often Do You Have to Renew Your C-16 License? How Costly Are the Fees?

1. Renewal Period
To make sure work eligibility doesn’t get disrupted, contractors will want to renew their California C-16 license every two years to keep up their active status.

License renewal reminders get sent out to contractors by the CSLB before the expiration date.

2. Renewal Fees
The renewal fee for a C-16 contractor license is $400. It’s good to keep in mind that contractors might pay additional fees for processing, bond renewal and insurance premiums.

Continuing Education Resources for C-16 Fire Protection Contractor

Industry Associations
Getting involved with groups like the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) can help a contractor get a wide range of educational resources, including training courses, webinars, and conferences focused on fire protection systems.

Trade Schools and Training Providers
Many trade schools offer specialized courses and workshops designed specifically for C-16 contractors and their needs. These programs go over code compliance, system design, and emerging technologies in fire protection.

Online Learning
Contractors can rely on platforms like the International Code Council (ICC) and Building Performance Institute (BPI) to get access to convenient online courses and certification programs to stay up to date on industry trends and best practices for C-16 contractors.


A C-16 Fire Protection Contractor license can open doors to a rewarding career dedicated to safeguarding lives and property from the threat of fire damage.

Hiring a C-16 contractor whenever necessary for construction projects ensures that property owners are in safe, capable hands.

By fulfilling the licensing requirements discussed in this article and staying informed about industry standards and regulatory changes Fire Protection Contractor hopefuls have the potential to thrive and create safer built structures for communities all over California.

How to Get Referrals When You Become a General Contractor

For a lot of us, self-promotion is one of the hardest aspects of day-to-day business. To take some of the pressure off, it helps a great deal if you’ve got people in your network who can talk you up and spread positive messaging about you around the construction industry.

A successful career as a general contractor is about so much more than just technique, skill, and building up knowledge and work experience in the field.

It is also about nurturing relationships with clients and demonstrating your expertise so that they trust you and feel good about recommending your services to others.

In this article, we discuss how general contractors can get referrals to maintain a solid professional reputation while also boosting their business.

Providing High-Quality Workmanship

Actually performing at a high level and delivering high-quality workmanship is the first step toward receiving all that valuable positive feedback that you seek.

When you’re consistently making a good impression on clients, they will want to say good things about your work and they will recommend you to friends, family, and colleagues.

To get specific, here are ways to ensure that you’re making a lasting positive impression with high-quality workmanship:

1. Attention to Detail

A detail-oriented contractor is a very good and very much coveted contractor.

This list on LinkedIn offers some amazing tips for how to display that you pay close attention to detail for the benefit of your clients and collaborators.

2. Use Quality Materials

Invest in high-quality materials that you know will make all the difference to your client. This builds trust with clients and extends the life of their construction projects.

Communicate with clients about how local codes and regulations may affect your decisions when selecting construction materials.

This guide from Indeed covers six steps you can take toward optimal quality control in construction.

3. Communicate Effectively

Maintain open and transparent communication with clients throughout the project. Do not gloss over confusion and instead check-in and help the client stay on the same page.

When clients feel confused or left out of the process, they are less likely to give generous reviews and referrals.

Address concerns promptly and follow up to ensure that the client is satisfied. Check out our post What to Expect from Clients as a General Contractor for more guidance about how to keep optimal communication going between you and your clients.

Leveraging Online Platforms, Trade Organizations, and Referral Services

1. Online Platforms

Online platforms can help you keep your name and the name of your business on the top of everyone’s mind. It’s a great way to tell your story to future clients and help them feel included in your company’s positive narrative and mission.

You can invest in a professional website for you and your company and you can build a presence for your brand on social media.

2. Professional Associations

Joining professional associations are good networking opportunities and as a potential side benefit, they can keep you sharp and competitive among your competition.

Here are a few organizations that help contractors stay in the mix and keep themselves in the know:

3. Contractor Referral Services

According to the Contractors State License Board (CSLB), using contractor referral services is completely legal and within limits.

These referral services function as online marketplaces where clients can shop for licensed contractors — a very useful tool for contractors interested in gathering more referrals for their business.

Here are a few services that can increase visibility and reach for general contractors working on generating referrals:

A few words of caution:
– Referral services cannot solicit or negotiate contracts on behalf of contractors.
– They can’t do anything to suggest that they are licensed to complete construction work valued at over $500 including materials.
– They must leave that business to the license-holding contractors that they are referring!

Garnering Good Reviews and Testimonials

1. Request Feedback

You have to request good feedback to get good feedback. Tell your satisfied clients that you would love to hear from them.

Make it easy by providing links to review platforms or sending follow-up emails requesting a review.

Even if they have constructive criticism to offer, the way you respond to their feedback could prompt an even more positive review from them in the future.

2. Showcase Success Stories

Display testimonials and photo evidence of satisfied clients on your website and social media platforms. It makes it easier for people to recommend you when you tell them verbatim why they should.

Showcasing past successes is also a great way to make a first impression on new clients who stumble upon your page.

3. Provide Exceptional Service

This one is in line with high-quality workmanship, but providing excellent customer service overall is an obvious method for reeling in future referrals.

Go above and beyond to exceed client expectations and you’ll make a lasting positive impression that they won’t be able to stop themselves from sharing with others.

Managing Negative Reviews and Protecting Your Reputation

1. Respond Promptly

It happens. People leave negative reviews online or share negative feedback in person. Address negative reviews promptly and professionally.

Make sure clients feel acknowledged and understood. Invite them to be a part of the solution and show them your willingness to resolve the issue both online and offline.

Demonstrate your commitment to customer satisfaction and you’ll mitigate the impact of a negative review.

2. Learn from Feedback

Negative feedback can actually be a wonderful prompt for improving your product and services.

Identify whatever the issue is that has been flagged and be transparent as you take proactive measures to make adjustments.

Your track record of correcting issues and preventing them from occurring moving forward is a huge asset to your business.

3. Maintain Professionalism

No matter what happens when you receive negative feedback, maintain professionalism. This is not the time to take anything personally. This is not an opportunity to win an argument. This is an opportunity to grow your business.

If you maintain poise and professionalism when you’re hit with a negative review, you build trust with your clients and potentially draw in new positive attention for your brand.


To conclude, generating referrals as a general contractor takes a great deal of effort and patience, but it is worth it.

Try using one tool at a time to see what works for you and your clients and gradually work your way up to relying on more tools for generating referrals from there.

No matter what, you definitely want to deliver high-quality workmanship and the best customer service possible.

Prompt satisfied clients to share their feedback whether it’s good, bad or neutral.

You can learn a lot from client feedback — even if it’s negative — and you can demonstrate your ability and willingness to improve, which could potentially attract even more strong referrals.

Can You Get a Contractor’s License if You’re Not a US Citizen?

Wondering if you can get a contractor’s license in your state, despite not being a US citizen?

We’ve got you covered. In this guide, we’ll cover the basics of whether you can get a contractor’s license in America if you’re not a US citizen, including what you can expect from the licensing process and what documentation you require to get a license.

Let’s dig in.

What is a Contractor’s License?

A contractor’s license is a legal verifier that allows individuals or companies to engage in construction activities within the scope of the law. It’s a way to ensure that contractors meet certain standards of quality, safety, and professionalism, while also ensuring that unscrupulous contractors who can cause physical, environmental, or financial damages are prevented from doing construction work.

Licenses are typically issued by state or local government agencies and may be required for various types of construction work, from general contracting to specialized trades like electrical, plumbing, and HVAC.

Usually, contractors’ licenses are specific to your trade or area of expertise. In California, for instance, you have over 50 different types of construction licenses, from Class B General Contractor licenses to highly specialized Class C licenses covering trades like landscaping and low-voltage electrical.

Do You Need a Contractor’s License to Do Construction?

The requirement for a contractor’s license depends on the state or locality and the type of construction work being performed. In general, most states require a license for major construction projects, especially those exceeding a certain monetary threshold.

For example, in Mississippi, a license is required for general contracting work on projects valued above $50,000. In California, you need a contractor’s license if you do construction work on any job valued over $500 in materials and labor! However, the rules can vary, so it’s important to check the specific requirements in your area.

Consequences of Doing Unlicensed Construction Work

Operating without a valid contractor’s license can lead to serious consequences, including:

  • Heavy fines, damage reparation payments, and other financial penalties
  • Legal action and lawsuits
  • Inability to enforce contracts
  • Damage to reputation and credibility
  • Higher costs and overcharges
  • Jail or prison if you are a repeat offender

Seriously – they can throw you in jail for doing unlicensed contracting work in many states. If your state has a licensing requirement, you should get a contractor’s license. The consequences of not doing so can be life-changing and brutal!

Can You Get a Contractor’s License if You’re Not a US Citizen?

Yes, non-US citizens can obtain a contractor’s license in the United States. However, the specific requirements vary by state.

Generally, you’ll need to meet the same qualifications as US citizens, which may include passing exams, providing proof of experience, and obtaining insurance and bonding. Some states might also require a Social Security Number (SSN) or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN).

However, in many states, it’s absolutely not a requirement to be licensed.

How to Get a Contractor’s License if You’re Not a US Citizen

  • Identify the Requirements: Check with your state’s licensing board to understand the specific requirements for obtaining a contractor’s license. Usually, the requirements include age, experience, bonds and insurance, and examination requirements.
  • Obtain an ITIN: If you don’t have a Social Security Number, you may need to apply for an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) for tax purposes. Almost every contractor’s license will require an SSN, EIN, or ITIN to receive a license.
  • Complete the Application: Fill out the necessary application forms, which may require personal information, proof of experience, and details about your business.
  • Pass the Exams: Most states require passing a general business and law exam and a trade-specific exam to verify your knowledge and experience.
  • Obtain Insurance and Bonding: You’ll likely need to provide proof of general liability insurance and a construction bond to receive a contractor’s license.
  • Submit Your Application: Once you’ve gathered all the required documents, submit your application to the state licensing board, along with any applicable fees.
  • Maintain Your License: Once you’ve obtained your license, ensure you comply with any continuing education requirements and renew your license as needed. Many licenses require renewal every two years, but it could be more frequent, depending on your area.

Many states do not require contractor’s licenses, so if you’re in one of those states, you’re in luck! You don’t have to do any of this!


Obtaining a contractor’s license or doing construction work as a non-US citizen is possible, but it requires careful attention to the specific legal requirements of the state where you plan to work.

The main thing to look out for is contractor’s licenses and the various laws surrounding them. You must follow the proper steps and stay compliant with all rules and regulations surrounding construction, lest you face the very serious consequences of falling afoul of these laws.

For more detailed information, it’s advisable to consult the licensing board or regulatory agency in your state or locality.

The Education Exemption for Your CSLB License: A Guide

Been to school for a construction-related degree and wondering if you can use that education to help you get a California contractor’s license?

You’re in luck – the Contractors State License Board (CSLB) allows contractors with a background in higher education related to construction education to be exempt from some of the stringent experience requirements that the state sets forth for licensed Colorado contractors.

What is a CSLB Contractor’s License?

A CSLB contractor’s license is a legal requirement in the state of California for anyone who intends to perform construction work where the total cost (labor and materials) exceeds $500.

Anyone doing construction work over $500 or involving specialized areas of construction (such as HVAC or plumbing) must have a valid CSLB contractor’s license related to the area of construction.

The CSLB oversees the licensing process, ensuring consumer protection and industry regulation. This license allows consumers to hire contractors with the implicit backing of the state, ensuring safety and quality standards are met throughout the state.

Who Needs a Contractor’s License?

Anyone performing work in California that costs over $500 in labor or materials must have a valid CSLB-verified contractor’s license.

Here’s a more detailed list of when a contractor’s license is required:

  • Individuals and businesses undertaking projects over $500 in labor or materials costs.
  • Subcontractors and specialty contractors working in trades on construction jobs
  • The contractor’s license must be valid for the area of specialization
  • Any government or federal-related construction jobs require a contractor’s license

Requirements For A CSLB Contractor’s License

Here are the requirements for getting a contractor’s license in California:

  • Age Requirement: Must be at least 18 years old.
  • Experience: A minimum of four years of relevant experience at a journey level, or as a foreman, supervising employee, contractor, or owner-builder within the last ten years.
    • Education Exemption: Up to three years of the experience requirement can be substituted with relevant educational or technical training, but at least one year must be practical experience.
  • Examination: Pass the CSLB examination, which includes a Law and Business exam and a trade-specific exam.
  • Legal Presence: Provide proof of legal presence in the United States (you cannot be an undocumented migrant).
  • Fingerprinting: Undergo a criminal background check through fingerprinting.
  • Bond Requirement: Post a $25,000 contractor’s bond.
  • Workers’ Compensation: If you have employees, or hold a certain classification, provide proof of workers’ compensation insurance.
  • Business Entity: If applying as a business entity, such as a corporation or LLC, register with the California Secretary of State.
  • Unique Business Name: Register and use a business name that is unique and not misleading or similar to an existing licensee.

What is the Education Exemption?

When it comes to getting your contractor license in California, you have to satisfy the experience requirements. California requires all contractors to have four years of journeyman experience in their area of focus. For example, if you are applying for an HVAC contractor’s license, you need at least four years’ experience as an HVAC journeyman.

But what about aspiring contractors who don’t have experience? Can you still get a contractor’s license?

You can – but the only other route is via the education exemption, which states that contractors only need one year of journeyman experience in their trade of choice, so long as they have three years’ qualifying education as well!

In practice, this means you have three years’ education at a trade school, university or other construction-related educational institution. The education exemption allows aspiring contractors to count formal education or technical training towards the required four years of experience needed to qualify for the CSLB exam, significantly decreasing the time and energy you have to spend to get your license.

How Do You Qualify for the Education Exemption?

In order to qualify for the education exemption, you have to demonstrate to the CSLB that you have the requisite three years’ education in the classification for which you are applying.

In addition to the three years’ education, you also need at least one year’s journeyman experience in that trade, so, for example, if you want to become an electrician via the education exemption, you need three years’ accredited education as an electrician, as well as one year working under a licensed C-10 contractor.

Here’s how you qualify for the education exemption in its simplest terms:

  • To Qualify For The Education Exemption: Three years of credit for relevant educational achievements can be applied toward the four-year experience requirement.
    • Accredited Degrees: Degrees or substantial coursework in construction management, architecture, engineering, and related fields can contribute towards the experience credit.
    • Technical and Vocational Training: Recognized apprenticeship programs or vocational training in the trade seeking licensure can also count.

Do You Still Need Work Experience to Get Your License if You Take the Education Exemption?

Yes. Despite the education exemption, applicants must have at least one year of practical experience. The combination of education and hands-on experience ensures well-rounded qualifications for licensure.

How Do You Know if Your Education Qualifies for the Exemption?

The CSLB evaluates each applicant’s educational background on a case-by-case basis:

  • Documentation: Official, sealed transcripts and certificates of completion from accredited institutions must be submitted for evaluation.
  • Accreditation: Degrees obtained outside the United States require translation and evaluation by an accredited evaluation service.

The CSLB states that they may accept the following as proof of satisfying the educational requirements:

A maximum of one (1) to one-and-a-half (1.5) years upon submission of official transcripts of an A.A. degree from an accredited school or college in building or construction management.

  • A maximum of two (2) years upon submission of official transcripts of any of the following:
    • A four-year degree from an accredited college or university in the fields of accounting, architecture (Class B Only!), business, economics, mathematics, physics, or areas related to the specific trade or craft for which application is being made
    • A professional degree in law
    • Substantial accredited college or university coursework in accounting, architecture, business, construction technology, drafting, economics, engineering, mathematics, or physics.

A maximum of three (3) years upon submission of any of the following:

  • A Certificate of Completion of Apprenticeship from an accredited apprenticeship program or a certified statement of completion of apprenticeship training from a union in the classification for which the application is being made. The Division of Apprenticeship Standards can help you verify this.
    • Submission of official transcripts for a four-year degree from an accredited college or university in construction technology/management, or any field of engineering that is directly related to the classification for which application is being made.
    • Submission of official transcripts for a four-year degree from an accredited college or university in the field of horticulture, landscape horticulture, or landscape architecture for the Landscaping (C-27) classification, or in the field of interior design for the Painting and
    • Decorating (C-33) classification.

Which License Classifications Are Best for Education Exemption?

While most classifications can benefit from the education exemption, those with a direct correlation to specific educational programs—such as engineering, architecture, and construction management—are particularly advantageous.

As you can see in the previous section, those with more defined ideas and backing of hard scientific rigor are the best for directly applying education to real-world experience. Class A General Engineering license holders, in particular, need the four-year classroom education on physics, dynamics, and all the various day-to-day, real-world considerations needed for safe and effective construction.

Can You Skip the CSLB Exam if You Qualify for the Education Exemption?

Generally speaking, all applicants, regardless of education or experience, must pass the CSLB examination to obtain their license.

However, you can apply for a waiver of examination, if you think you qualify. The CSLB gives out waivers of examination for the CSLB exam if you meet the following requirements:

  • The qualifying individual is a member of the immediate family of a licensee whose individual license was active and in good standing for five of the seven years immediately preceding the application;
  • The qualifying individual must have been actively engaged in the licensee’s business for five of the previous seven years and must be applying in the same classification(s); and
  • The license must be required in order to continue the operations of an existing family business in the event of the absence or death of the licensee.

So it doesn’t really depend on you, but rather the qualifying individual who is “sponsoring” your license.

See our full article on skipping the CSLB exam for more information.


If you already have three years of schooling in your area of expertise – great! You probably qualify to be exempt from the four years of journeyman experience requirement.

However, you still need to get some on-the-job training – at least one year’s worth. Now it’s time to hit the bricks and get some work under an experienced, licensed contractor.

Partnering with a mentor or an expert in your area is a great way to fulfill this requirement and get you that one step closer to becoming a licensed contractor in California! Reach out to your local network and find somewhere where you can grow your skills and ultimately get your license!

Most Common Home Renovation Projects in California

Home beautification is always thriving in sunny California. Maybe you just saw a project on TV or on social media and you’re feeling inspired to take it on. Or maybe you’re someone working hard to increase the property value of your home.

Whatever the case may be, you’re thinking about making some home updates. To help you out while you brainstorm, we created this list which covers the most common home renovation projects in California.

Stick with us until the very end to get details about licenses that you definitely want your contractors to have while modernizing your space and optimizing functionality in your home.

Kitchen Remodeling

Ah, yes. The kitchen — the heart of the home. Why do we think that kitchen remodeling is among the most popular home improvement projects in California?

For one thing, interior design trends for kitchen spaces get updated every year. Even if the practical function of a kitchen stays the same, the popularity of these aesthetic details often changes:

  • Cabinetry
  • Countertops
  • Appliances
  • Flooring
  • Light fixtures
  • Modern tech like smart appliances

For another thing, the kitchen tends to be the keeper of a few big-ticket items that require regular updates if you want to keep the whole house feeling current. Water heater, dishwasher, and garbage disposal replacements are three jobs that help a kitchen remodel go a long way.

Bathroom Upgrades

Everyone loves a bathroom upgrade. Updating a bathroom can lead to luxurious, spa-like results or it can be as simple as updating a few outdated fixtures and finishes.

Here are the most popular upgrades we see in bathrooms:

  • Installing new showers or tubs
  • Replacing old vanities and sinks
  • Plumbing additions and replacements in general
  • Upgrading to energy-efficient fixtures
  • Optimizing storage solutions

Room Additions

Two big issues for California residents are costly real estate and limited space. Room additions are popular home renovation projects because they allow homeowners to get more living space without having to move. Some examples of popular room addition projects are:

  • Adding a new bedroom
  • Expanding the living room
  • Designing a dedicated room for a home office
  • Creating a gym space

These projects require a lot of hard work, including but not limited to:

  • Flooring
  • Carpeting
  • Paneling or ceiling tile replacement
  • Window or door addition or replacement

While room additions are fun and come with amazing benefits, they sometimes come with red tape. We spoke about this a bit in our Comprehensive Guide to ADU Builds.

The main point we intend to underscore here is that homeowners who are interested in room additions must plan carefully and make sure that their project complies with local zoning regulations and building codes.

Outdoor Spaces

Outdoor living spaces get a lot of love in California thanks to the agreeable climate. This means that property owners put extra effort and focus into outdoor home renovation.

A few popular outdoor upgrades that help homeowners boost their entertainment and hospitality game include:

  • Building decks
  • Building patios
  • Erecting pergolas
  • Adding outdoor kitchens
  • Adding fire pits
  • Installing swimming pools

There are a few landscaping upgrades that are super common in California, such as:

  • Adding drought-tolerant plants and sustainable design features
  • Adding or replacing a sprinkler system

Roof Replacement is another outdoor upgrade that frequently comes up for property owners and relates very closely to the final item on our list…

Energy Efficiency Improvements

We’ve mentioned it on the blog before, but Californians are leading the charge in sustainable living.

Adopting solar technology at home has been strongly incentivized which means lots and lots of home renovation projects involving the following:

  • Installing solar panels
  • Upgrading insulation and windows
  • Replacing outdated HVAC systems with energy-efficient models
  • Implementing smart home tech to monitor and control energy usage

Licensing Requirements for Home Remodeling in California

As you probably already know, any construction project going over $500 in labor and materials requires a contractor’s license from the Contractors State License Board (CSLB).

While you might be fairly familiar with the “B” Class General Building Contractor License, you might not be as familiar with the special class licenses that often come in handy for home remodeling.

In an earlier post on the blog, we discussed the B-2 Remodeling Contractors License in depth and we delved into when or why you might need to obtain one. But here is some home remodeling work that most often requires special class licenses to complete:

Structural Work

  • Projects involving structural changes, like adding or removing walls
  • Projects that alter a roofline
  • Projects that expand the footprint of a home

Electrical, Plumbing, and HVAC

  • Any installation or maintenance for electrical, plumbing, or HVAC systems requires special licenses

Any Work Requiring a Permit

  • Even for a small kitchen or bathroom renovation — if a permit is required, you’ll want a licensed contractor to help you maintain compliance with building codes and regulations.

DIY Projects vs. Hired Licensed Contractor Work

Home makeover TV shows and all the social media content flaunting the before and afters often make it seem like home renovation is mostly DIY side-project fun.

In reality, there is a line between DIY projects and licensed contractor work that we must acknowledge. Even for minor renovations, we’re better off working with licensed contractors because they can guarantee:


  • Licensed contractors are experts. They have been tested in the field and they have been literally tested on their knowledge through the contractor’s exam that is required for their license.

Legal Compliance

  • Not only do licensed contractors have the skills and expertise, but they are also held accountable by law and must comply with local building codes and permitting requirements, keeping your project safe, efficient, and structurally up to code.

Insurance Coverage

  • Licensed contractors carry liability insurance so you’ll be covered if accidents happen.


The most common home renovation projects in California cover a wide range of categories of contractor work.

Whether you want to update a kitchen or a bathroom, or if you want to add living space to your property, the safest and most efficient way to complete your project is with a licensed contractor on your team.

The CSLB is an excellent resource for anyone who wants to expand their knowledge about contractor license classifications or who simply wants to verify that a contractor’s license is valid and active.