The Most Common California Contractors License Violations and How to Steer Clear

In the bustling construction industry of California, maintaining a valid contractor’s license is essential for success. Not only are licensed contractors seen as more legitimate by clients, but it’s also illegal to do construction work over $500 in California without a valid Contractors State License Board (CSLB) contractor license.

However, navigating the sometimes-confusing rules and regulations set forth by the CSLB can be a daunting task. To keep your business on the straight and narrow – and bringing in money –  it’s vital to be aware of the most common California contractors license violations and how to avoid them. 

In this article, we’ll shine a light on these common pitfalls and provide you with the knowledge to dodge them like a pro. So, let’s get started!

Violation #1: Working Without a License

Avoiding the Unlicensed Trap

As we stated earlier, you CANNOT perform work in California on jobs over $500 without holding a valid California contractor license specific to your area of work. 

One of the most common California Contractors License Violations is working without a valid license. That includes if you’re a license holder whose license has expired, or if you’re a seasoned construction worker working under another person who may have a license.

The remedies to this situation are fairly obvious. Make sure you have a license. Here’s how:

  • Obtain a contractor’s license from the CSLB before starting any construction work exceeding $500 in labor and materials.
  • Renew your license promptly and maintain an active licensing bond at all times
  • Keep your license information up-to-date, reporting any changes to the CSLB ASAP

Violation #2: Misleading Advertising

Honesty Is the Best Policy

Inaccurate or misleading advertising can land you in hot water with the CSLB. Never advertise anything that you can’t do, and never advertise your services for jobs that are outside of your classification (such as, bidding for plumbing jobs as a roofing contractor).

What’s misleading can be open to interpretation, but in general, keep things obvious and direct about who you are, what jobs you can do and what customers can expect you to deliver. At the end of the day, play it safe.

Remember to:

  • Accurately represent your company, services, and experience. Do not oversell your credentials.
  • Display your contractor’s license number on all advertisements, including websites, business cards, and promotional materials.
  • Avoid making false claims or guarantees that you cannot fulfill.

Violation #3: Unlawful Contracts

Crafting Compliant Contracts

An improperly drafted contract can result in violations and potential legal issues. It’s prudent to have a business or construction lawyer look over EVERY contract you send out to a potential customer, to avoid any issues down the road. 

To ensure your contracts are up to snuff, follow these guidelines.

  • Include your contractor’s license number, business name, and address on all contracts.
  • Clearly outline the project scope, timeline, and payment terms.
  • Obtain all necessary permits and approvals before commencing work.
  • Provide a written “Notice to Owner” document, explaining the owner’s rights and responsibilities under California law.

Violation #4: Inadequate Workers’ Compensation Insurance

Protecting Your Team

Workers Compensation insurance is now a CSLB requirement as of 2023. Failing to provide adequate workers’ compensation insurance is a serious violation and will result in you having your license pulled.

You MUST have workers’ comp insurance for EVERY employee you have, even day laborers and you must provide documentation to the CSLB about your workers’ comp insurance.

To keep your team protected and avoid penalties, be sure to:

  • Obtain workers’ compensation insurance for all employees, even part-time or temporary workers.
  • Maintain coverage at all times and notify the CSLB of any changes in coverage.
  • Provide proof of insurance to the CSLB when renewing your contractor’s license.

Violation #5: Unapproved Job Site Supervision

Keeping an Eye on Your Projects

Overseeing your projects is a crucial aspect of contractor responsibilities. As a contractor, you are responsible for your work sites. Even if you have someone else stepping in for you as a foreman or as a manager, you are still responsible for workplace safety and supervision.

To avoid violations related to job site supervision, always:

  • Assign a qualifying individual or responsible managing employee to supervise all projects. This means someone who is also a CSLB certified contractor.
  • Ensure the supervisor is on-site regularly and is familiar with the project’s progress, materials, and personnel.
  • Maintain open communication with your clients and address any concerns promptly.

Violation #6: Improper Classification

Stay In Your Lane

Performing work outside of your CSLB contractor’s license classification is a quick way to having your license suspended – and facing criminal consequences.

There’s only one bullet point here, and it’s fairly obvious:

ONLY perform work that falls under your classificaiton. If you are a plumber, you CANNOT perform electrical work. If you are a general contractor with a Class B license, you need to hire roofers, HVAC techs and so on. You cannot perform this work yourself, even if you know how to do it.


By being aware of the most common California Contractors License Violations and taking proactive steps to avoid them, you can ensure your business remains compliant with state regulations and thrives in the Golden State’s competitive construction industry. 

Navigating the complex world of contracting can be challenging, but with a solid understanding of the potential pitfalls and the know-how to dodge them, you’ll be well on your way to a successful and profitable construction business in California. So, stay informed, be vigilant, and let your dedication to excellence speak for itself. Good luck, and happy building!

This entry was posted in Contractor Business on by .

About CSLS

Contractors State License Service (CSLS) is the largest school in California devoted to the Construction professional. For over 23 years, CSLS has helped its students pass the exam to become licensed contractors in the State of California, licensing more students than any other school. From our main offices in Southern California, CSLS operates over 25 locations with full-service support and classrooms. We have grown to this extent by providing quality, professional services. In comparison, this provides 7 times the number of convenient locations than the second largest contractor school. Contractors State License Services is one of the only contractor schools in the state that is run by educators, not lawyers or people mostly interested in the bonding and insurance business. Contractors State License Services formerly operated under the oversight of the State of California's Bureau for Private Post Secondary and Vocational Education. As of January 1 2010, the new Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education (BPPE) came into existence replacing the BPPVE. CSLS now operates under the provisions of the California Private Postsecondary Education Act of 2009 (CPPEA), Article 4 Section 94874(f). Our Mission is simple; We can help you pass your California Contractors License Exam. Celebrating our 25th year, CSLS has helped over 120,000 students pass the California contractor licensing exam to become licensed contractors in the State of California. Additionally, we offer complete home study and online contractor’s license programs to help you pass your California contractors license exam. CSLS offers licensing classes for all types of contractor licenses, including General Engineering Contractor, General Building Contractor, Specialty Contractor, Insulation and Acoustical Contractor, Framing and Rough Carpentry Contractor, Cabinet, Millwork and Finish Carpentry Contractor, Concrete Contractor, Drywall Contractor, Electrical Contractor, Elevator Contractor, Landscaping Contractor, Warm-Air Heating, Ventilating and Air-Conditioning Contractor, and many others. For a complete list of contractor licenses, visit and tuned for more informative posts.