Anyone who provides skilled labor valued over $500 for parts and labor for a home needs to have a license from the California State Licensing Board (CSLB). Altogether, the CSLB has 43 separate licensing categories for residential construction and remodeling.
The top categories are the general contractors who oversee the construction of the entire home or building. General engineers also fall into the top category. Engineers specify the lot and land specifications and once the local jurisdiction has approved their layout, odds are you won’t have to deal with the engineers or land developers.
When you’re building a new home, the general contractor supervises everything that the subcontractors do. They include virtually every trade that works on your home, from the drywallers to the electricians and the fencing contractors to the roofers.
Sometimes general contractors also supply some of the labor and skills needed to build a home. When they do, the contractor has to apply for a license to practice that trade. If they put up the framing, they have to have a framing license. If they also install swimming pools, they must have a license to do that too.
But if the contractor provides more than two specialty services, the work that it does will fall under the general contractor’s license. For example, a contractor who installs the wiring, plumbing and swimming pool only needs a general contractor’s license.
How Are Licenses Issued
Some of the trades have minimum standards for classroom hours and fieldwork hours before applying for a license. HVAC license applicants, have to show that they’ve worked in the field for four years before applying for their license. Electricians have similar requirements. Many professionals also go to community colleges or trade schools to learn the material they’ll have to know in order to pass the require exams in their specialty.
Besides passing the professional competency and business law tests, the applicant will have to post a bond and obtain insurance to work as a licensed trade in California.
The Value of Licensing
The consumer is the biggest beneficiary of the strict licensing requirements in California. When the trades have to show fiscal responsibility to do work on your home, you’ll be protected financially from any kind of liability their work may cause.
Of course, the best protection you can have when building new or remodeling is by hiring a general contractor. Their expertise and financial stability is likely to be much deeper.
If you’d like to learn more about hiring a general or specialty contractor, contact O.C. McDonald by calling us at 408-295-2182. We provide contracting services for San Jose and Bay area homeowners.