Solar energy contractors and corporate contractors licensing

Some contractors were ‘shocked’ by a recent answer on who can build solar energy systems. Board interpretation of the current rules have ‘electrified’ an entire class of contractors who feel they may be getting ‘shorted’ on some of this work. When are you ‘a consultant’ and when is a contractor’s license going to be necessary? Those answers, an introduction and more in this “Connection”…

Q: Hi. I’m trying to get a contractor’s license for my corporation. Do the officers of the corporation each have to possess a license for this to work? What testing is required?

A: For a corporation to be issued a contractor’s license in CA, only one individual listed on the license is required to hold the classification. This person can be a Responsible Managing Employee (RME) or Responsible Managing Officer (RMO). If the qualifying individual already has a license, then no further exam is required. If he or she does not hold the proper classification, then testing will be necessary.

Q: My specialty license expired in 2002, over five years ago. I am now looking into obtaining a general license in California. My problem is: I just found out today from the CSLB that I can’t renew my license and I have to retest. Unfortunately, I just received the go-ahead from a company who wants me to fill out a form saying I’m an independent contractor. Am I okay to do the 1099 as a “consultant” until I obtain a new license? Your input would be appreciated.

A: I cannot determine if this is proper because simply stating that you’re a “consultant” does not tell me much about your role in this project. For instance, are you supervising employees or subs? Are you overseeing the work as a project manager? Does your agreement with the company meet the definition of a ‘Contractor’ as indicated in Section 7026 of the B&P Code (i.e. to “construct, alter, repair, add to, subtract from, improve…any building”)?

If you answer YES to any of the above you’re likely a contractor and would need a license.

Q: The CSLB has told us we cannot use the word “solar” in our business name since we do not hold a “C-46” license. We have a “C-10” and understood that electrical contractors could do solar work. Is there a written policy available so we know what they’re referring to? We want to get this in front of our Association because this policy is ridiculous.

A: There is no written policy that I am aware of that addresses this issue. This is a CSLB staff interpretation of B&P Code Section 7059.1 which states “a licensee shall not use any business name that indicates the licensee is qualified to perform work in classifications other than those issued for that license…”

In your case, the Board has determined that a “C-10” is limited to handling Photovoltaic (PV) or other electric solar systems and it would be misleading to imply you could install ALL types of solar. They suggest adding the word “electric” to the business name.

Carrying your question a step further, brings up some interesting issues. For instance, as I indicated in last week’s column, a “B” can perform ALL types of solar work. Would the Board therefore allow a general contractor to use the business name style “ABC Solar”? Your thoughts and ‘feedback’ on this is appreciated.

Know your CSLB Board Members

Governor Schwarzenegger appointed Joan Hancock to the CSLB in November 2007. She owns “Her Land Enterprises” and has been a licensed general building contractor in Sacramento since 1984. From 1977 to 1983 Ms. Hancock co-owned Hancock & Colyer Construction. She is a member of the Sacramento Mediation Center. Her term does not expire until June 2011.