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Steven E. Springer April 22, 2016

Being your own boss is a wonderful opportunity. However, with great rewards come great responsibility. If you are a contractor setting off on your own, you know that the field is loaded with reputable competition. Yet, with the right training, expertise, and application, success is within arms reach. With reality television shows exploiting untrained and unskilled carpenters passing themselves off as licensed contractors, an increasing number of clients are educating themselves with the process before hiring a qualified contractor. It is important to meet their standards to avoid repercussions.


It is nearly impossible to be effective 100 percent of the time if you are unaware of the laws governing the jobs you are completing. It is your responsibility to know the laws and stay current with the ever changing codes. It is also important to realize that the laws governing public works projects are not the same as private works projects. One of the major California laws are that any projects costing more than $500 in materials, not including labor costs, must legally be completed by someone who is licensed by the State of California Licensing Board. Two other recent law changes passed by the California Contractors State License Board (CSLB) that became effective as of January 1, 2016 are:

  • All contractors must have either a Contractor’s Bond or a cash deposit filed with the Contractors State License Board. Failing to ensure this is done may result in a suspended license; and

  • There are simplified registration procedures for home improvement sales people. Now they only need to be registered once as an HIS with the CSLB.


With a few exceptions, it is illegal to work on major projects (over $500) without being licensed. The steps to becoming licensed are fairly minimal if you have a construction background. Some of the requirements are:

  • 18 years of age or older;

  • Have experience or skills necessary to manage a construction site;

  • If an individual does not meet the experience requirement, they may be represented by someone who does;

  • Must have had within the last 10 years at least four of them in a journey level, foreman, supervisor, or contractor position in the field in which they are applying;

  • Submit an application for original contractor’s license to the California Contractor State License Board along with any supporting documents;

  • Complete any qualification examinations required for your license;

  • Mail in the application processing fee and/or initial licensing fee;

  • Submit a contractor’s bond and a bond of qualifying individual; and

  • Send in proof of worker’s compensation insurance or a form of exemption.

Whether you are just starting out as a contractor or have been for years and are having some legal questions, it is always best to ask a qualified experienced legal team. After all, the wrong move can result in the downfall of your business and significant financial loss. If you are in the San Jose, Morgan Hill, or Fremont CA area and are trying to build your business the right way, contact a proven San Jose business lawyer to help build a solid foundation for your future. Call us today at 408-779-4700.