Interpretation of “B” Classification

While the rules and regulations guiding contractors licensing are written in black and white, there exist gray areas in the law. A sharp contractor has been ‘reading between the lines’ and discovered an ‘inconvenient truth’, with apologies to Al Gore, that may be of interest. Contractors can also benefit from learning about the new training available to help manage site runoff in the effort to reduce groundwater pollution from their jobs…

Q: We have recently seen an interpretation of the work a “B” License can undertake as a Prime Contractor based on Paragraph B of the CSLB definition. Several owners have allowed a “B” License to bid as a prime contractor on traditional “A” works as long as the “B” license “subcontracts with an “A” licensed or a “C-**” licensed ” contractor for the work. They’re saying that for a “B” contractor to be a prime requiring “2 additional trades in addition to framing” does not apply and is overruled by the second paragraph. This seems to allow general building contractors to bid on any job, regardless of trade, number of subcontractors, etc.

Is this interpretation correct regarding the “B” classification’s ability to perform work as a prime contractor? Thanks for your explanation.

A: You may have hit upon an unintended consequence resulting from a 2002 amendment to B&P Code Section 7057. In my review of the 2000 Contractors License Law and Reference Book, paragraph (b) states in part…. “shall not take a prime contract for any project involving trades other than framing or carpentry…or unless the general building contractor holds the appropriate SPECIALTY license or subcontracts with an appropriately licensed SPECIALTY contractor to perform the work” (emphasis added). In the 2004 Reference Book, the wording had changed to “…holds the appropriate classification or subcontracts with an appropriately licensed contractor to perform the work”. The word “specialty” has been removed.

Therefore, it would appear a loophole exists whereby a “B” general builder can properly be the prime contractor on a general engineering project if they use an appropriately licensed “A” or combination of appropriately licensed “C” contractors. This being said, I would not agree with the second part of your question that this “allows “B” contractors to bid on any job, regardless of trade, number of subcontractors, etc.” There are still some restrictions regarding the “B” acting as a subcontractor or handling work that would fall under the “C-16” (Fire Protection) or “C-57” (Well Drilling) trades. Further, in reference to your mention of “two additional trades, in addition to framing”, please note that section 7057 requires these two (or more) trades be “UNRELATED”.

The Associated General Contractors (AGC) of California recently announced a training program for contractors interested in developing a Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP). Regional Water Resources Control Boards have established this training for contractors to comply with Construction General Permit requirements.

These “SWPPP” typically contain a site map that shows: the construction site perimeter, existing and proposed buildings and roadways, storm water collection and discharge points and drainage patterns throughout the project. The Plan’s goal is to reduce and control the amount of pollutants entering the storm drain system from construction sites.

The upcoming training is on Friday, December 1st in West Sacramento. For more information, contact the AGC at 916-371-2442. You may also want to visit the State Water Resources Control Board’s “Storm Water Program” web site for general information on Construction Storm Water Programs, Construction General Permits and their nine Regional Boards throughout California.