California Contractors License Renewal

Some ‘surprises’ are nice, while some others in life and business, not so much. Sometimes avoiding a ‘surprise’ is just as nice as receiving one. Another contractor caught unaware will find there are sometimes no good answers to share…

Q: I got your phone number from a local contractor who says he reads your column.

I am trying to do some research on my husband’s Contractor’s License. He obtained his “B” General Building Contractor’s License in 1989. He has not used his license (since that date), but it has expired. I would like to have it reinstated for him, as a surprise for Christmas. Can you please tell me what I have to do to get this done? Thank you in advance!

A: Sorry, but your husband’s sole owner license expired more than 5 years ago. Therefore, for his prior license to be re-instated, he will be required to retake and pass the law and trade exams. He’ll first need to complete — and personally sign — an application for original contractors license, which obviously would ruin the element of surprise. Even if his license had expired within the past 5 years (rather than in 1997) it could still not be renewed without his signature.

While this idea would make for a very nice gift, I know of no way to make it a ‘surprise’. Nevertheless, I hope you and your husband have a nice holiday season.

Q: I have been employed in upper management with a company for close to 5 years. Is it still possible to be grandfathered in, so to speak, so I can obtain my own license without taking any exams? Please advise.

A: The CSLB no longer grants waivers for a new license based on having been listed on an existing contractor’s license for 5 years. In 2003, the Registrar of Contractors discontinued waivers under B&P Code Section 7065.1(a). The Board will however still grant a waiver for replacing the qualifying individual under sub-sections (b) — the so-called “family” replacement — and (c) replacement by an employee (or officer) of a corporation.

Q: I was recently ‘surprised’ by an unexpected notice that my license was just suspended due to an associated judgment on another license. I have not been involved with this other company for nearly 5 years; yet I’m being held responsible for judgments that are several years old. I am no longer listed on the license but the CSLB says I am still liable. Any ideas how I can fix this?

A: There are 4 ways to fix this problem – unfortunately none of them good. 1) Have the company declare bankruptcy (which I understand is not feasible in this case); 2) pay the large debt even though you have no direct responsibility; 3) work out a payment arrangement with the company that has the judgment; or 4, somehow get a stay from the court stating the judgment was not valid (this is extremely difficult even under the best of circumstances).

You may think that removing (disassociating) yourself from the license would allow for your current license to have the suspension lifted. This only works if the date of disassociation is prior to the judgment date. As we discussed, the critical date is when the judgment was obtained from the court, not the date it’s reported to the Board.

As I have warned many times, as soon as you leave a contractor’s license, whether you’re listed as the officer or partner, immediately notify the CSLB in writing. This is the best way of protecting yourself from future licensing ‘surprises’.

Readers who call me directly before December 31st will receive an autographed copy of my book, “What Every Contractor Should Know”, at a special discount while they last. Happy Holidays!