Category Archives: CSLB News

CSLB News: Another CSLB Crackdown Catches Four Unlicensed Contractors

Another week, another series of unlicensed contractors got caught doing unlicensed contracting work in California by the Contractors State License Board and their SWIFT contractor license enforcement team.

This time, the CSLB partnered with local authorities in Fresno to take down four unlicensed contractors who not only tried to take on contracting work without a valid license but also advertised their services to the public – which carries its own separate legal punishments.

In this case, these contractors will face criminal charges in Fresno County. While they are not in jail right now, jail time is a real possibility for these would-be unlicensed contractors. As always, we have to remind you to never take on unlicensed contracting work – the consequences always far outweigh the benefits of making a little money in the short term.

Here’s the CSLB’s official press release with more details.

CSLB Cracks Down on Unlicensed Contractors in Fresno County

SACRAMENTO, CA – The Contractors State License Board (CSLB) joined forces with the Clovis Police Department and Fresno County District Attorney’s Office to conduct a successful undercover operation targeting unlicensed contractors in Fresno County.

The operation, conducted on February 28, resulted in two individuals receiving Notices to Appear in Criminal Court for allegedly engaging in contracting activities without the required license. Two other individuals will be referred to the Fresno County District Attorney for similar violations. These offenders now face legal consequences, including substantial fines and potential jail time.

During this sting operation, CSLB and law enforcement officials identified and cited individuals for submitting bids that exceeded the legal limit of $500. The bid amounts ranged from $750 to $4,200 for various contracting jobs at the property including concrete work and painting. Engaging in contracting work without a valid license is considered a misdemeanor offense in California, carrying substantial penalties that include fines up to $15,000 and potential six months jail time.

Unlicensed contractors cited in this operation may face additional charges for advertising their construction services without possessing the necessary license. According to California law, it is illegal for anyone to advertise construction or home improvement work without a valid license in the advertised classification. In instances where contracting services are advertised by unlicensed individuals, the advertisement must explicitly state their lack of licensure. Even with this disclosure, an unlicensed individual is limited to providing bids and performing work for projects valued at $500 or less, including materials and labor.

“CSLB remains committed to safeguarding homeowners from the perils associated with unlicensed contractors,” said David Fogt, CSLB Registrar. “We continually strive to educate consumers about the importance of hiring licensed contractors and strongly urge homeowners to take a few moments to verify a contractor’s license before proceeding with any construction project in California.”

During the operation, it was discovered that some of the individuals demanded excessive down payments before commencing work, including one individual requesting a $2,100 down payment for a $4,200 bid. Under California law, contractors can request no more than 10 percent of the project cost or $1,000, whichever is less. Violating this provision is a misdemeanor offense, punishable by fines of up to $5,000, a one-year county jail sentence, or both.

For further information or to report suspected unlicensed contractor activities, please visit the CSLB website at or contact CSLB at 1-800-321-CSLB (2752). For ongoing information and updates from CSLB, connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.


Understanding the New B-2 License: A Game Changer for California Contractors

Have you heard about the new B-2 Residential Remodeling Contractor license introduced by the California Contractors State License Board (CSLB)? It’s an amazing opportunity for those of you who want to specialize in remodeling homes. Let’s explore what this new license is all about, how it can benefit your business, and provide some real-life examples to make it even clearer.

What is the B-2 Residential Remodeling Contractor License?

The B-2 license is a brand-new classification designed specifically for residential remodeling. Unlike the general contractor licenses, this one is tailored for professionals who focus on updating and improving existing homes. Here’s a breakdown of what you can do with a B-2 license:

  • Kitchen and Bathroom Remodels: Think about transforming outdated kitchens into modern culinary spaces with new cabinets, countertops, and appliances. For example, updating a cramped kitchen with an open floor plan, adding an island, and installing energy-efficient appliances.
  • Room Additions: Need more space? Add an extra bedroom or expand your living room. For instance, converting an unused attic into a cozy guest bedroom or adding a sunroom to the back of a house.
  • Interior and Exterior Renovations: This includes painting, flooring, and exterior improvements like new siding or windows. Imagine giving a home a fresh look with new hardwood floors, a fresh coat of paint, and energy-efficient windows.
  • Non-Structural Modifications: Make changes that improve the home’s look and function without altering its structural integrity, like updating lighting fixtures or installing new countertops.

Key Skills You Need

To excel as a B-2 Residential Remodeling Contractor, you’ll need a diverse set of skills:

  • Project Management: You’ll oversee the entire remodeling project, ensuring everything runs smoothly and is completed on time. For example, coordinating schedules with electricians and plumbers to ensure the project stays on track.
  • Knowledge of Building Codes: It’s essential to know and follow local building codes and regulations to ensure your work is up to standard. Understanding the specifics of codes for installing new bathroom fixtures or meeting requirements for electrical wiring.
  • Trade Skills: Be handy with various trades such as carpentry, plumbing, electrical work, painting, and more. This versatility is crucial for remodeling projects, like being able to install new kitchen cabinets and also handle minor electrical work.
  • Client Communication: Excellent communication skills will help you understand your clients’ needs and keep them informed throughout the project. Regularly update clients on progress, discuss design choices, and address any concerns they might have.

How to Get the B-2 License

Getting your B-2 license involves a few steps. Here’s what you need to do:

  • Show Your Experience: You need to prove that you have at least four years of experience in residential remodeling within the last 10 years. This experience is crucial to demonstrate your expertise. For example, documenting your work on previous remodeling projects like bathroom upgrades and kitchen renovations.
  • Pass the Exam: You must pass two exams: the CSLB law and business exam and a specific trade exam on residential remodeling. These exams ensure you have the necessary knowledge and skills.
    Meet Financial Requirements: Show that you’re financially responsible by meeting the CSLB’s bonding and insurance requirements. This helps protect you and your clients.

Why Get a B-2 License?

There are several great reasons to get a B-2 license:

  • Specialization: Focus on what you do best—remodeling homes. This license allows you to specialize and become an expert in this field. For instance, if you love transforming old kitchens into modern masterpieces, this license is perfect for you.
  • High Demand: The demand for home remodeling is booming. Many homeowners are looking to update and improve their living spaces, providing plenty of work opportunities. Imagine the business you could get from homeowners wanting to add value to their properties.
  • Competitive Edge: Having a B-2 license sets you apart from other contractors. It shows clients that you are a specialist in residential remodeling, which can help you win more projects. For example, being able to market yourself as a licensed B-2 contractor can give you an edge when bidding for projects.

How to Apply

Applying for the B-2 license is a straightforward process:

  • Complete the Application: Get the CSLB application form for the B-2 license and fill it out with all your details and experience.
  • Study for the Exam: Prepare for the CSLB law and business exam and the trade-specific exam on residential remodeling. There are plenty of study guides and courses available to help you.
  • Submit Your Documents: Send in all the necessary documentation, including proof of experience, financial statements, and insurance details.
  • Take the Exam: Schedule your exams and make sure you pass them. Preparation is key!

Real-Life Examples

To make it clearer, here are some examples of what you can do with a B-2 license:

  • Transforming a Kitchen: Imagine a family wanting to update their 1980s kitchen. With a B-2 license, you can handle the project from start to finish, including tearing out old cabinets, installing new countertops, and updating the plumbing for a modern sink.
  • Adding a Bathroom: A homeowner wants to add an extra bathroom to their house to increase its value. As a B-2 contractor, you can manage the entire project, ensuring the plumbing is correctly installed, the fixtures are up to code, and the finished work is top-notch.
  • Exterior Upgrades: A client wants to improve their home’s curb appeal. You can help by replacing old siding, installing new windows, and adding a fresh coat of paint to the exterior.


The new B-2 Residential Remodeling Contractor license is a fantastic opportunity for contractors in California. It allows you to specialize in remodeling homes, a market that is currently in high demand. By obtaining this license, you can focus on what you do best and set yourself apart as a residential remodeling expert.

So, if you’re ready to take your contracting business to the next level, start the process of getting your B-2 license today. It’s a game changer that can open up many new opportunities for you and your business. Happy remodeling!

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.

Can an Unlicensed Contractor Sue Me?

Although it might seem like a nearly impossible, worst-case-scenario type of event, you – an innocent homeowner or business owner – are being sued by an unlicensed contractor for issues that happened on your job site. Remain calm. If an unlicensed contractor has threatened to sue you, it’s actually not the end of the world.

In a past blog post, we answered the question Can You Sue an Unlicensed Contractor? and now it is time to take a look at the other side of that same coin and let you know whether or not an unlicensed contractor can sue the client who hired them.
The Unlicensed Contractor Dilemma

You’ve been given the same advice a million times — hire a licensed contractor. If any kind of home repair or construction work exceeds $500 in labor and materials, you need a licensed contractor for the job.

Even though the message to hire licensed contractors is out there, you may have unknowingly hired a slippery, unlicensed contractor who convinced you that they’re the real deal.

It’s upsetting enough to realize that someone is working with you in bad faith, but in addition to that, you’re seeing what a challenge it is to hold unlicensed contractors accountable.

Meanwhile, the unlicensed contractor might lead you to believe that you are liable for damages if anything goes wrong while they are working on your handyman or construction project.

Can they sue you for non-payment? Can they sue you if they get injured or sick on the job? What are your rights? What is your responsibility?

Unlicensed Contractors Have Limited Legal Standing to Sue

The thing that unlicensed contractors want you to forget or fail to realize is that they typically have limited legal standing to sue you for not paying them.

A quick review of the California Business and Professions Code section 7031 shows that unlicensed contractors are prohibited from taking legal action to enforce contracts for services requiring a valid contractor license – so if they don’t have a license, they can’t sue you!

Unlicensed contractors can’t sue you for breaking a contract that they entered fraudulently. This rule exists to discourage unlicensed individuals from advertising illegal services in the first place and this rule also stands to protect consumers from unscrupulous practices.

Exceptions to the Rule

There are extraordinary circumstances that might get a judge to rule in favor of the unlicensed contractor who has sued to recover payment:

Substantial Compliance
In some rare situations, the courts might see that the contractor made a good-faith effort to comply with licensing requirements. “Substantial compliance” might be enough to keep you on the hook for paying this individual.

Minor Work Exemption
For projects valued under $500, certain minor work exemptions do apply. If it is determined that your project qualifies for such exemptions, that may be enough of a legal precedent for you to pay for the labor.

Please note that the above-mentioned scenarios are rare and the risk involved is considerably low compared to the drama and headache that typically comes with hiring an unlicensed contractor to work on structural repairs and other construction work.

How Homeowners Can Protect Themselves

The constant refrain that you’ll get from the Contractors State License Board (CSLB) is to take your time when hiring a contractor and look up their license to verify that it is active and valid.

The CSLB urges the public to report illegal contractor activity to avoid situations where consumers could get swindled and tricked into hiring an unqualified worker leaving shoddy non-compliant construction work in their wake.

One simple way that homeowners can protect themselves is by getting everything in writing from the outset. All agreements and details indicating the scope of work, the costs of the project, and timelines should be documented in a written contract and signed by both parties.

Another easy thing you can do is ask for references from past clients. Checking out a contractor’s work history and gauging the satisfaction of the people who have hired them before can only help you. The more you know the better.

Also, another great way to have your own back is to check your contractor’s proof of insurance coverage. You want to be sure that the contractor carries liability insurance and workers’ comp coverage so that there are no unpleasant surprises later down the line.

We don’t have to tell you that accidents and injuries come up in construction frequently, so before you enter a new contract, make sure you understand the liability that you are taking on.


The take-home advice is to do whatever you can to avoid hiring an unlicensed contractor.

The lack of a license might indicate that your contractor lacks the necessary skills and expertise required for delivering high-quality work.

Substandard, non-compliant workmanship leads to safety issues and legal troubles that you do not need in your life. If you unknowingly hire an unlicensed individual, both you and the contractor could potentially face serious penalties.

While it is not likely that an unlicensed contractor can sue you and win in a court of law, you still risk facing legal consequences eventually just by agreeing to let someone perform contractor work on your property without a license.

Additional Reading

CSLB – Before Hiring a Contractor
CSLB – Owner-Builders Beware!
Unlicensed Contractors: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly
CSLB – Consequences of Contracting Without a License

Guide to Liability Insurance for Contractors in California

Starting your career as a construction contractor in California? Or maybe you’re a seasoned contractor who has recently had liability issues crop up unexpectedly? Or maybe you’ve got an eye out for legislative changes that will require contractors to have general liability insurance.

At any rate, general liability insurance is something that all construction contractors should be familiar with – no matter your specialization, license classification, or area of operation. If you don’t have general liability insurance for your contracting business, this article will get you up to speed on what it is, why it’s important, and why you must have general liability insurance for all projects and businesses going forward.

What is Liability Insurance?

Liability insurance is a type of insurance policy that protects individuals and businesses against the risk of being held legally liable for actions or inactions that cause injury or damage to third parties.

It can protect individuals or businesses from any sort of damage occurring under one’s purview. In other words, liability insurance makes sure your buns are covered in the case of an on-site disaster.

Liability insurance, in practice, is usually applied in the case of legal proceedings. Liability insurance will usually cover the costs associated with legal defense, settlements, or judgments awarded to the injured party, as well as any additional costs that relate to the incident.

Basically, general liability insurance makes it so you, the contractor, aren’t personally or financially responsible for anything that goes wrong on a job site.

The reality is that it’s not a question of if, but when something goes wrong on a construction site – liability insurance is there to protect you from being personally liable when that happens, protecting you from financial losses.

What is General Liability Insurance And How Is It Different From Regular Liability Insurance?

General liability insurance is a subset of liability insurance. General liability insurance is specifically designed to protect businesses, including contractors and contracting businesses. When a company has general liability insurance, the policy provides coverage for third-party claims of bodily injury, property damage, and personal and advertising injury.

As we’ve previously established, general liability insurance is the type of insurance that contractors should be looking for to protect their contracting business. General liability insurance is essential for contractors as it protects them from financial losses resulting from accidents or injuries that occur on the job site or as a result of their operations – an inevitability in this industry!

Liability Insurance vs. Contractor’s/Surety Bonds

If you’re a contractor, you should already be intimately familiar with contractor’s bonds aka surety bonds – but what’s the difference between a surety or contractor’s bond and liability insurance?

The primary difference between contractor bonds and liability insurance is protected by these legal frameworks.

Surety bonds are required by the CSLB as they protect the consumer from malpractice on a contractor’s side of things. Surety/contractor bonds give the homeowner or property owner legal and fiscal recourse if a contractor does not fulfill their end of the contract, as the contractor bond company pays the client for their losses.

Unlike the contractor’s bond, which exists to protect the consumer, liability insurance is there to protect the contractor. It protects the contractor in the event of injury on a job site where the contractor is usually liable for damages, by essentially taking the responsibility of reward and compensating the parties who are damaged by the accident or issue.

In short: contractor’s bonds protect the client, customer, or consumer of construction services. It ensures that the contractor will fulfill their end of the bargain as laid out in the contract. Meanwhile, liability insurance protects the contractor from being pursued for financial damages in the case of a job site accident.

What Does Liability Insurance Cover?

Liability insurance for contractors typically covers:

  • Bodily Injury: Medical expenses and legal fees associated with injuries to third parties.
  • Property Damage: Costs to repair or replace damaged property belonging to third parties.
  • Product and Completed Operations: Claims related to the contractor’s work after the project is completed. There may be overlap here with a contractor’s bond, in some situations. Liability insurance adds another layer of protection for contractors.
  • Personal and Advertising Injury: Claims of slander, libel, or copyright infringement. This is pretty common in the construction industry, where advertising laws are rarely enforced.

Examples of incidents where liability insurance comes into play in construction include accidents resulting in injuries to clients or bystanders, damage to neighboring properties, and – rarely – legal disputes over advertising practices​​.

Do You Need Liability Insurance to be a California Contractor?

No, contractors in California are not legally required to have liability insurance to operate legally – although the CSLB highly recommends it!

Not having liability insurance for your business as a contractor is practically a guaranteed recipe for disaster. Life-destroying consequences lurk around every corner on construction job sites – leaving you open to extreme pain when something inevitably goes wrong.

Considering the enormous financial costs related to construction job injuries and damages, you could be looking at thousands or even millions of dollars for any issue, liability insurance is a powerful safeguard against financial and legal penalties that come with construction.

There’s also the possibility that these requirements could change in the near future. Considering the recent changes to bond limits and the requirement for all contractors to have workers’ compensation insurance – even without employees – by 2026, there’s a good chance that the CSLB will also require contractors to have liability insurance.

Don’t wait until liability insurance becomes mandatory. Paying for insurance stinks, but the reality is that you will run into a workplace incident at some point in your career, and when the court comes a-calling, you’re going to wish you had liability insurance. Trust us – it’s worth the money!

CSLB News: Humboldt County Sting Operation Busts 4 Unlicensed Contractors

SACRAMENTO – The Humboldt County District Attorney’s Office and the Contractors State License Board (CSLB) worked together in an undercover operation that ultimately exposed contractors for performing construction work without a license.

The severe stormy weather in early February precipitated the increase in demand for home repair work in southern California. As a result, unlicensed contractors began advertising themselves as available for hire for construction contracting services.

In California, it is required by law for unlicensed contractors to state clearly that they are not license holders and that they cannot bid on work contracts valued higher than $500 (including labor and materials).

But in Eureka, CA this month, law enforcement and the CSLB discovered that four unlicensed contractors had submitted bids ranging from $1,400 for a home painting project to $12,000 for deck work. Exceeding the legal limit of $500 is a blatant violation of the standards and regulations put in place by the CSLB.

This undercover sting operation left each of the four unlicensed contractors with a Notice to Appear in criminal court. Their primary offense was allegedly performing contracting activities without the required licenses.

One of the offenders may face an additional obstruction of justice charge. After the accused individual was caught by the sting operation, they took to social media to post information about the crackdown, most likely to warn other unlicensed contractors to help them dodge controversy.

Investigators report that this person was expressly told not to spread information about the undercover operation. Now they and the three other individuals who were suspended for unlawful construction activities are looking at fines and possible jail time.

In a statement to the press, David Fogt from the CSLB Registrar underscored the importance of hiring licensed contractors for home improvement projects. He pointed out how after a storm, unlicensed contractors are more likely to take advantage of the moment and approach people in need of home repair.

Fogt’s message concluded with him saying, “That’s why CSLB educates consumers on how to protect themselves by hiring a licensed contractor — it takes just a few minutes to find a licensed contractor in California.”

Most contractors know that the CSLB operates under the umbrella of the Department of Consumer Affairs. The board licenses and regulates about 285,000 contractors in California and it requires that all of them carry some form of insurance or another to comply with public safety standards and to meet established quality standards.

When unsuspecting clients wind up hiring unlicensed contractors like the four individuals who got caught so recently in Eureka, they are unknowingly taking on a great deal of risk. Because the work of an unlicensed contractor is performed without the CSLB’s endorsement or oversight.

Homeowners hiring unlicensed contractors to perform construction work that exceeds the $500 limit open themselves up to potential legal problems and safety issues. They could be taking on the legal liability for any damages incurred as a result of the unlicensed construction work.

Taking on costs associated with workers’ compensation, building code violations, having to redo shoddy construction work, and other similar costs is wholly unnecessary. The CSLB strongly encourages consumers to plan ahead and hire a licensed contractor to ensure safe, efficient, and high-quality work from contractors.

C-9 Drywall Contractor’s License: A Comprehensive Guide

Looking to become a licensed drywall contractor in California, so you can start making money doing drywall fitting, installs, maintenance, and more?

We’ve got you covered. In our latest comprehensive license guide, we’ll cover everything related to the C-9 license: what it is, who needs it, what kinds of jobs you can do with a C-9 license, and more!

Let’s dig in.

What Does a C-9 Drywall Contractor Do?

A drywall contractor specializes in the installation, taping, and texturing of gypsum wallboard assemblies, including nonstructural metal framing members. Drywall contractors are skilled professionals responsible for installing wallboard panels, which are used to construct walls and ceilings in buildings.

Their work involves measuring, cutting, and fitting these panels into the framework of buildings and ensuring a smooth, finished surface that’s ready for painting or wallpapering. The main day-to-day tasks include taping and applying joint compound to seams between panels, as well as patching and sanding imperfections to create a seamless appearance.

C-9 drywall contractors play a crucial role in both residential and commercial construction by ensuring walls and ceilings are properly installed and finished to meet building standards and aesthetic requirements.

While C-9 drywall contractors install drywall, they may not paint these walls (that’s a C-33 Painter’s License) nor may they build the framing around them (that’s a C-5 Carpenter’s License).

What is a C-9 Drywall Contractor License?

The C-9 Drywall Contractor License is a classification under the California Contractors State License Board (CSLB) that permits individuals or companies to legally perform drywall installation and repair services within the state of California.

This license is a testament to the holder’s expertise in the field, ensuring any C-9 license holder meets the state’s rigorous standards for safety, quality, and professionalism. Without a C-9 license, you cannot do any drywall work on projects over $500.

Who Needs a C-9 License?

Individuals or businesses that undertake drywall projects in California where the total cost (labor and materials) exceeds $500 must possess a C-9 license. If your job is less than $500, you can do drywall work without a C-9 license, but those cases are rare.

Licensure ensures that all parties involved are qualified and capable of adhering to state regulations and building codes – and penalties are serious and severe for people who do work without a contractor’s license.

When Do You Need a C-9 Drywall Contractor License?

As we’ve just covered, you need a C-9 license before bidding on any project that involves drywall work exceeding $500 in California. That’s right – beyond doing the work itself, you need a license to even bid on a project!

Furthermore, a C-9 license whenever doing any sort of drywall work over $500. This involves practically anything related to drywall, including the nonstructural and aesthetic work surrounding an installation.

As previously stated, the main areas that require a C-9 license are:

  • Installation of gypsum wallboard
  • Nonstructural metal framing members
  • Taping and texturing operations

Most Common Types of Jobs for a C-9 Contractor

C-9 Contractors can undertake a variety of projects. Generally speaking, here are the main areas you’ll be working on as a C-9 contractor.

  • Installation & finishing of drywall in new structures and remodels
  • Patching/repairing of drywall
  • Metal stud framing
  • Acoustic ceiling removal
  • Sound control installations
  • Suspended ceilings​.

Digging deeper, here are some more specific types of jobs for C-9 contractors:

  • Fire-rated Drywall Installation: Projects that require fire-resistant drywall to meet building codes and enhance the safety of structures.
  • Moisture-resistant Drywall Installation: In areas prone to moisture such as bathrooms and kitchens, moisture-resistant drywall is essential for preventing mold and water damage.
  • Acoustic Drywall Installation: For buildings where sound insulation is crucial, such as apartments, hotels, and schools, using acoustic drywall helps in reducing noise transmission.
  • Architectural Drywall Features: Creating custom arches, eaves, and other architectural features that require precise drywall shaping and installation techniques.
  • Decorative Texturing: Applying specialized textures to walls and ceilings for aesthetic purposes, including but not limited to, knockdown, orange peel, and smooth finishes.
  • Drywall Art and Sculpting: Crafting artistic elements or sculpted details into drywall, which can include recessed lighting coves or custom relief work.
  • Seismic Retrofitting: Installing or upgrading drywall systems to improve a building’s earthquake resilience, often involving the use of flexible fasteners and reinforced framing.
  • Lead-lined Drywall Installation for X-ray Rooms: In medical facilities, installing lead-lined drywall is necessary to provide protection against X-ray radiation.
  • Egress and Fire Escape Routes: Constructing or modifying walls to ensure compliance with safety codes, including the installation of fire-rated drywall in stairwells and escape routes.
  • Water Damage Repair: Replacing or repairing drywall that has been damaged by water or moisture, including matching textures and finishes in restoration projects.
  • Historic Renovation: Working within the constraints of historic preservation standards to repair or replace drywall in a way that maintains the integrity of the original structure.
  • Crack and Hole Repairs: Addressing structural and cosmetic issues in drywall, from small punctures to larger areas of damage, ensuring a seamless finish.
  • Insulating Drywall Systems: Installing drywall products that come with built-in insulation properties to enhance a building’s thermal performance.
  • Air Sealing: Implementing drywall installation techniques that improve the airtightness of a building, reducing energy loss and improving comfort.

Each of these tasks requires a deep understanding of building codes, materials, and techniques to ensure a high-quality finish that meets or exceeds the client’s expectations.

How to Get a C-9 License in California?

  • Experience Requirement: Applicants must prove a minimum of 4 years of journeyman-level experience in the drywall trade.
  • Age and Identification: Be at least 18 years old with a valid driver’s license or USA Issued Identification.
  • Application Process: Submit a completed application to the CSLB, including proof of experience and a $330 application fee.
  • Examination: Pass the two-part state CSLB exam covering trade-specific knowledge and California business law.

What’s the Difference Between a C-9 Contractor, a C-6 Contractor, and a C-5 Contractor?

The C-9, C-6, and C-5 classifications all fall under the broader category of carpentry and construction but specialize in different aspects.

A C-9 Drywall Contractor is specialized in the installation and finishing of drywall. In contrast, a C-6 Cabinet, Millwork, and Finish Carpentry Contractor specialize in building and installing cabinets, millwork, and other fine woodwork projects. A C-5 Framing and Rough Carpentry Contractor focuses on the framing work that provides the structural support for buildings, including framing systems, sheathing, subflooring, and related tasks.

The key difference lies in the specifics of their trade skills and the materials they work with. C-9 contractors work with gypsum wallboard, C-6 contractors with cabinets and fine woodwork, and C-5 contractors with structural wood framing. Each requires a unique set of skills, knowledge, and experience to meet the standards of their specific trade.

What Types of Contractors’ Licenses Are Good to Have in Addition to a C-9 License?

Holding additional licenses can expand a C-9 contractor’s business opportunities by allowing them to take on a broader range of projects. Here are a few licenses that complement the C-9 license well:

  • C-5 Framing and Rough Carpentry License: Since many drywall projects are part of larger construction projects that involve framing, having a C-5 license allows a contractor to handle both the structural and the finishing aspects of the project.
  • C-6 Cabinet, Millwork, and Finish Carpentry License: This license allows a C-9 contractor to offer comprehensive interior finishing services, including custom cabinetry and detailed millwork, alongside drywall services.
  • C-10 Electrical Contractor License: For projects that require electrical work behind walls before drywall installation, a C-10 license can be beneficial.
  • C-33 Painting and Decorating Contractor License: Since painting often follows drywall installation, having a C-33 license allows a contractor to provide a complete finish package to clients.

Popular Niches For C-9 License Holders

When it comes to being a C-9 contractor, there’s a number of general areas that you can work in. Here are some of the main niches where C-9 contractors can establish a powerful niche.

  • Complete Home Remodels and Renovations: Handling the framing, drywall, and finishing aspects of remodels can make a contractor a one-stop shop for clients.
  • New Residential and Commercial Construction: Being able to manage both the structural framing and the interior drywall and finishes can be a significant advantage.
  • Custom Home Theaters and Soundproofing Projects: With expertise in drywall, a contractor can specialize in creating custom entertainment spaces and soundproofing, areas that require specialized drywall techniques.
  • Energy-Efficient and Green Building Projects: Incorporating energy-efficient techniques in drywall installation, such as using sustainable materials and advanced insulation strategies, aligns with growing trends in construction.

Holding multiple licenses not only broadens the scope of potential projects a contractor can bid on and complete but also enhances their appeal to clients looking for a comprehensive range of services from a single provider.

By following the above guide and meeting California’s strict licensing requirements, anyone can embark on a rewarding career as a C-9 Drywall Contractor. This license not only opens the door to a wide range of projects that you may already be working on in other capacities, but the C-9 license also establishes the contractor’s credibility in an environment that thrives on trustworthiness and integrity.

The Consequences of Doing Unlicensed Contractor Work in California

Tempted to do unlicensed contracting work in California? Thinking you can save money and time by skipping the CSLB’s arduous licensing process by simply making a backroom deal? Maybe you can hire your nephew as a concrete subcontractor under the table and save money on taxes?

Sounds good, right?


When it comes to doing unlicensed contracting work in California, you need to consider the consequences. In California, there are serious consequences for doing unlicensed contracting work on jobs over $500 – including facing time in jail.

Still – you might think you’ll get away with it, but we’re here to tell you: it’s simply not worth the trouble. Why? Let’s find out.

What is a CSLB Contractor’s License?

The CSLB Contractor’s License

The CSLB (California State License Board) contractor’s license is a certification issued by the state of California to individuals and businesses in the construction industry, ensuring they meet the necessary qualifications and standards. It covers various classifications, including general building, specialty trades, and engineering.

The Importance of Licensure

The whole point of a CSLB license is to ensure safety and security when it comes to construction. People need to know they’re safe in their homes, workplaces, bars, restaurants, and go-kart tracks. The CSLB license ensures that you not only have a verified professional doing your job – but that you have a way to fix any issues a contractor may cause you.

A CSLB license signals to clients that you are worth the time and money they’re investing in you – the CSLB serves as a gold standard for construction professionals in the state.

Do I Need a Contractor’s License to Do Contracting Work?

In California, it’s mandatory for any contract over $500 (labor and materials) to be undertaken by a licensed contractor. This requirement safeguards consumers from potential fraud and ensures that all work meets specific safety and quality standards.

While you can stick to jobs under $500 for your whole career – a construction job known colloquially as a handyman – most construction contractors want to reach for the stars and grow their careers and businesses. If you have any ambition as a contractor, you need a CSLB license.

What Happens if You’re Caught Doing Unlicensed Construction Work in California?

Immediate Repercussions

Contractors found working without a license face severe penalties, including fines, cease-and-desist orders, and the possibility of criminal charges – all of which are designed to stop unlicensed activity before anyone can get hurt or suffer losses.

And California is always watching – the CSLB has done at least 10 separate stings just last year, involving over 20 unlicensed contractors operating in the state. Many of these contractors were pulled off the job site, arrested on the spot by local authorities, and compelled to serve jail time.

If you’re doing unlicensed work and someone finds out, they’re going to get you and get you quick!

Who Enforces Contractor’s Licenses in California?

CSLB’s Role

The CSLB is responsible for enforcing contractor licensing laws in California. Through investigations, sting operations, and consumer reports, the CSLB ensures compliance and prosecutes violations.

The CSLB’s license task force is called SWIFT. SWIFT (CSLB’s Statewide Investigative Fraud Team) is responsible for enforcement across the state. They work together with local law enforcement to perform stings against unlicensed contractors operating in the state.

Recent sting operations by the CSLB in counties like Orange and Sonoma have resulted in several unlicensed contractors being caught and facing legal action.

For instance, in June 2023 in Orange County, eight individuals received Notices to Appear in criminal court for contracting without a license, with bids ranging from $7,500 to $36,000 for a painting job​.

Similarly, in Sonoma County, eight suspected unlicensed contractors were cited during a sting operation, with submitted bids exceeding the legal limit of $500, highlighting the ongoing efforts to crack down on unlicensed activities​.

Legal Ramifications for Unlicensed Contracting Work

  • Fines and Penalties: Unlicensed contractors can face fines ranging from $200 to $15,000.
  • Criminal Charges: Engaging in unlicensed contracting work can lead to misdemeanor or felony charges, with potential jail time. Multiple offenders are often placed in jail for six months or longer.
  • Restitution to Consumers: Courts may order unlicensed contractors to pay restitution to harmed consumers. Whenever there are damages to the home or persons, courts will most likely order contractors to make their clients whole.
  • Administrative Actions: The CSLB may issue cease-and-desist orders and place individuals on a public database of violators. If you’re a violator of the CSLB, you will be on their list forever, and you will face much greater scrutiny with everything you try to do through the CSLB.


Operating as an unlicensed contractor in California carries significant risks, including legal penalties, financial liabilities, and damage to one’s professional reputation. The CSLB enforces strict regulations to protect consumers and ensure that only qualified, licensed contractors perform work in the state.

We can’t say this more emphatically – do not do work in California over $500 without a license. There are simply too many consequences and you have too much to lose!

Being caught doing unlicensed contracting work will not only present short-term consequences like jail time and fines, but it also marks you for life in the state – meaning further scrutiny and worse penalties in the future.

What Does It Take to Get a General Contractor License in California?

In these uncertain times, when the job market is constantly changing, we do what we can to take control of our lives. Maybe you’re looking for a career change. Maybe you’re finishing up school and making decisions about what to do next.

No matter what season of life you find yourself in currently, you can look around and be certain that the construction business is strong and consistent in California.

If your career ambitions have begun to steer you toward becoming a contractor, you’re probably thinking, what does it take to get a Class B General Building Contractor License? This article can serve as an easy jumping-off point so that you can decide for yourself if taking this next big step is right for you.

Basic Requirements

Before getting too deep in the weeds about general contractor life, let’s make sure all the basics are covered. Here’s the absolute essential requirements put forth by the CSLB.

  • You must be at least 18 years old.
  • You must be legally allowed to work in the United States.
  • You must have a minimum of 4 years of journey-level experience.
  • Conversely, you may supply the CSLB with proof of three years of college or trade-specific classroom education. You must, however, have at least one year’s on-the-job experience doing general contractor work.

How Much Education Does It Take to Get a General Contractor License?

One thing that sets the general contractor career apart from so many others is the fact that you can build a lucrative future for yourself without having to worry about securing a pricey, seemingly out-of-reach higher ed degree first – and potentially saddling yourself with lifelong debt.

The reality is that the amount of education that you want to take on as you move toward your goals as a general contractor is mostly up to you – but education is always a method to empower oneself.

Basic math and reading comprehension are the main prerequisites that you’ll need in your day-to-day life as a general contractor – think about all the square footage you need to measure and the dozens of emails you have to write – so a high school diploma or an equivalent (like the GED) is enough to get you going.

Of course, you know that knowledge is power, so if you’re so inclined you can enroll in construction management programs, courses focusing on blueprint reading, or business administration classes to build your skill set anytime. Even a university degree can hugely benefit general contractors in this area of work.

General Contractors and Financial Commitments

For a lot of people who are just getting started with becoming a general contractor, the heaviest lift is the financial commitment involved. Take some time and reflect on whether now is the right time to go for your general contractor license. To make this pursuit worthwhile you’ll need:

When it comes to understanding the full schedule of fees, check out some of our recent posts, like How to Obtain a Contractor License with Minimal Fees and our Comprehensive Guide To CSLB Application Fees!

Liability and Mitigating Risk

We mentioned above that having a Contractor’s Bond (and very soon, workers’ comp) is essential as you move toward getting your general contractor’s license.

This is because the Contractors State License Board (CSLB) will not issue an active license, reactivate an inactive license, or renew an active license until these protections are in place.

This fact really gets to the heart of what it takes to become a general contractor. It takes the willingness to take on a hefty amount of liability. It takes someone who isn’t afraid of risk, but who can mitigate risk while on the job.

It takes a commitment to working in compliance with building codes and regulations. Meeting these standards is non-negotiable for a general contractor.

A failure to comply with the guidelines and restrictions set by local authorities inevitably leads to an increase in legal liabilities, financial penalties, and a damaged reputation.

Throughout your four years of required training, you’re likely to make mistakes and you’re likely to learn from those mistakes. But when you’re officially a license-holding general contractor the mistakes will be more costly and possibly more dangerous.

Can you envision yourself working closely with clients and crew members to mitigate risk as you work through your career in construction? Are you prepared to keep a clean paper trail documenting all your contracts, permits, inspections, and transactions?

Networking and Building a Reputation

Sometimes a word-of-mouth testimonial is your best asset. One major pillar that you’ll need to prop up your career as a general contractor is networking and reputation-building skills.

  • Join Trade Associations and participate in industry events, workshops, and seminars. The Associated General Contractors (AGC) or the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) are great places to seek out networking opportunities.
  • Fix up your online presence and create a professional website for yourself. Link to social media and LinkedIn and include client testimonials there along with details about your industry expertise.
  • Prioritize customer service and nurture lasting relationships with clients. Remain consistent and always deliver high-quality workmanship while also keeping your communication with clients open and honest to maintain mutual trust.


It definitely takes a great deal to become a general contractor. But if you determine that you’re up for the task, it’s nothing you can’t handle.

Meeting the necessary requirements for getting the General Building Contractor license is only the beginning. Beyond that step, you will need to invest in continuing education for yourself and manage your financial responsibilities from job to job and in between jobs.

You will also have to work in compliance with California codes and local ordinances all while keeping up strong and healthy relationships with clients and colleagues.

If you see yourself aligning with this career journey, please check out the CSLB website to get the most current and accurate guidance for the next steps toward your future in construction.

Do You Need Workers’ Compensation Insurance As A Construction Contractor in California?

What Is Workers’ Compensation Insurance?

Workers’ Compensation Insurance – often referred to simply as workers’ comp – is a type of insurance designed to provide financial and medical protection to employees who suffer job-related injuries or illnesses.

This insurance is similar to liability insurance but is specific to people. If (and when) someone gets hurt on a job site, workers’ comp covers a number of costs for the affected worker, including medical care, temporary and permanent disability benefits, supplemental job displacement benefits, and death benefits.

The purpose is to support injured workers in their recovery and return to work while protecting employers from lawsuits by injured employees.

Even though contractors now have to supply another piece of insurance, it really is beneficial to both parties – workers have a safety net when doing sometimes dangerous construction work, while employers are indemnified from being sued for on-site accidents.

Does the CSLB Require Workers’ Compensation Insurance to Obtain a Contractor’s License?

At the time of writing, the California Contractors State License Board (CSLB) does not require that all construction contractors possess workers’ comp to obtain and maintain a contractor’s license; however, in the next few years, all contractors will be required to.

As of January 2024, here’s the classifications and situations where workers’ comp is required:

  • Any contractor who has employees
  • All active C-8 Concrete contractors, C-20 Warm-Air Heating, Ventilating and Air-Conditioning contractors, C-22 Asbestos Abatement contractors, C-39 Roofing contractors, and/or C-61/D-49 Tree Service contractors
  • Your license is qualified by an RME

This mandate is crucial to ensure that all contractors operating in the state are adequately covered for any workplace injuries or illnesses that their employees might encounter.

Recent Changes to Workers’ Compensation Insurance Requirements

The most significant recent change in California’s workers’ compensation insurance requirements is the enactment of Senate Bill 216.

This law, which came into effect in September 2022, expands the workers’ compensation insurance requirements to include all contractors by January 2026 – irrespective of whether they have employees!

This is a massive departure from the previous law, which mandated insurance only for contractors with employees and specific classifications. Now, every contractor – from general contractors with 50 subs on site to handymen – will have to have workers’ comp insurance.

In the meantime, specific contractor trades such as concrete (C-8), HVAC (C-20), asbestos abatement (C-22), and tree service (D-49) are now required to have workers’ comp, regardless if they have employees or not​​​.

Do I Need Workers’ Compensation Insurance If I Don’t Have Employees?

Under the new California law, even contractors without employees are required to have workers’ compensation insurance – but you have until 2026 to take action.

While you don’t need workers’ compensation right now if you don’t have employees, contractors who are sole proprietors or have no employees must still comply with this insurance mandate​​ in two years.

How Much Workers’ Comp Insurance Does a Contractor Need?

The required amount of Workers’ Compensation Insurance for a contractor in California depends on various factors, including the size of the business, the type of work performed, and the level of risk associated with the specific trade.

Contractors can obtain this insurance through a licensed insurance company or opt for self-insurance, which requires state approval, a net worth of at least $5 million, and a net income of $500,000 per year​.

Consequences For Noncompliance

The penalties for failing to carry workers’ compensation insurance in California are severe. They not only include losing your license, but you can even face imprisonment for up to one year, fines of up to double the amount of premium that would have been due, or a minimum fine of $10,000.

Additionally, the California Division of Labor Standards can issue a stop order, legally demanding cessation of all employee labor – which means more money disappearing into thin air. Noncompliance can also result in a misdemeanor criminal offense, punishable by up to 60 days in county jail or by a fine of up to $10,000, or both. In cases where an uninsured worker is injured, the employer may face a penalty of up to $100,000​​​!

In summary, workers’ compensation insurance is a mandatory requirement for all construction contractors in California, by January 2026, regardless of their employee count. Right now, only certain contractor classifications need to have workers’ comp, regardless of employees or not.

If you don’t have workers’ comp yet, you might as well take the plunge – as it’ll be required in two years anyway!