General Contractors, Solar Energy and Bonding

Keep watching this ‘space’ as a contractor seeks help when his ‘world’ collides with the CSLB ‘universe’. How will the ‘planets align’ for a general contractor who wants to build ‘solar’ systems? Can I show another contactor how to ‘travel back in time’ to solve his problem in the ‘present’ day. These exciting stories of ‘time and space’ are real-world examples of the regulations that ‘rule’ a contractor’s life on Earth, or in California anyway…

Q: Can a general contractor legally do a PV (photo-voltaic) solar project?

A: In addition to the multitude of laws passed by the Legislature, which regulate contractors, the CSLB has created a number of rules and regulations governing the construction industry. Regulation 832.62 addresses solar system work within the scope of Class “A” and Class “B” licenses.

The definition of a general engineering contractor contains the phrase “in connection with fixed works requiring specialized engineering knowledge and skills. The Board has determined that this “shall include but not be limited to an active solar energy system.”

A general building contractor can handle solar energy systems, including Photovoltaic (PV), since the Board has concluded that this “constitutes use of more than two unrelated building trades or crafts within the meaning of Section 7057 of the B&P Code” (which defines a “B” contractor).

Q: I recently heard from the CSLB that they are looking into a project I worked on a few years ago. A complaint was filed against my license and the Investigator has asked me to provide all my contracts and records for an 18-month period. I think they are on a fishing expedition but want to know what actions can the CSLB take against me and my license if I do not have these records.

A: The CSLB has the right to request records from a contractor as part of any investigation. B&P Code Section 7111 allows the Board to take disciplinary action against a contractor who “without lawful excuse; delays, obstructs or refuses to comply with a written request…for information or records”. This same Section also requires a contractor to “make and keep records showing all contracts, documents, records, receipts and disbursements of all his or her transactions as a contractor…for a period of not less than five years after completion of a construction project…”

If you want any legal advice regarding the ramifications of non-compliance, I suggest contacting an attorney that is knowledgeable in dealing with these types of CSLB enforcement actions.

Q: Will the CSLB accept a backdated contractor’s bond? My bonding company sent this in to the Board but apparently it was not received. Now my license is suspended and one of our customers is refusing to pay us until this is straightened out. Help!

A: You don’t state how long ago this bond was sent to the CSLB. The Board can only accept a “backdated” bond within 90 days of the stated effective date. However, B&P Code Section 7071.7 does allow the registrar to accept a bond more than 90 days old “upon a showing by the licensee…that the failure to have the bond on file was due to circumstances beyond the control of the licensee”. In other words, if this “error” happened last month, you should have no problems getting the suspension lifted quickly. If your bond expired more than 3 months ago, you must be able to conclusively show that your bonding company did in fact file this bond with the State Board. Either way, I would suggest having the contractor’s bond filed in person in Sacramento so you can immediately secure a stamped copy for your records.