Using / Renewing Your License

Like so many situations in life, applying for, using and/or renewing your contractor’s license often depend on your individual history. While the rules and regulations are applied generally, every ‘problem’ can help illustrate the flexibility these laws provide individual contractors, as our first questions for 2007 demonstrate. I will also offer my ‘two cents’ on the ten percent rule for home improvement contracts and revisit the issue of licensing LLC’s…

Q: I had a California contractor’s license issued around 1975. It expired some time ago although I have been working in the building industry continuously for over 30 years. I have been a general superintendent and project manager and would like to know if there’s a way to renew or reissue my old license without the cost and time to study and take the exam?

A: Based on the information you provided, it would appear you would need to reapply to get your license back. If the prior license was yours as a sole owner, you can request that the number be re-issued. If a license has expired for more than 5 years (and you have not been a qualifier on any other license), it cannot be renewed without re-taking and passing the law and trade exams. If you have been a qualifier on another license within the past 5 years, you can reapply with no testing.

Q: After looking at a couple of painting contractors advertisements in the yellow pages, I am curious to know how they can advertise waterproofing and roof coating. I am a “C-39” (roofing) contractor and perform the type of work they are offering. Can painters offer waterproofing? Can they then also do other roofing work?

A: It is very likely they CAN perform waterproofing and roof coating legally under a “C-33″. Part of the definition of the Painting classification is…”for the purposes of decorating, protecting, fireproofing and waterproofing”. They cannot however, repair or replace shingles, roof tiles, etc. or handle other work typically performed by a “C-39” since this would go beyond the scope of a painting contractor.

Q: I know there is a requirement concerning home improvement contracts that limits the amount of money a contractor can collect up front to ten percent (10%) or $1000, whichever is less. I was wondering if there was some type of limitation or requirement about collecting money up front on other types of contracts?

A: I am not aware of any limitations on how much a contractor can collect up front for other type of projects (Commercial, institutional, public works, etc.) Only home improvement projects have this “10% or $1000, whichever is less” provision.

Q: Two friends and I are considering forming a LLC in order to service and install solar panels and solar energy units. We understand a “C-10” license is needed. We want to start business right away and were told we could find someone with a “C-10” license that could be a Responsible Managing Officer (RMO) or Responsible Managing Employee (RME). Our main question is can we get the business started this way?

A: First, since the CSLB will not license a Limited Liability Company (LLC) you will need to form a corporation or partnership to include all three of you. Second, if applying for a license to install solar panels and solar energy units, either the “C-10” (electrical) or “C-46” (solar) classification would be acceptable. Third, as we discussed, if you find someone who has the proper classification, your qualifier’s present license will need to be inactivated.