California Contractor License Reciprocity and Special Class

While ‘supercalifragilisticexpialidocious’ might be the longest word you may know, thanks to Disney’s “Mary Poppins”, for contractors ‘reciprocity’ means much more. Did you know that you might get a license in one state, even if you’ve only been licensed for 24 hours in another?…

Q: Since, 2000, we have had licenses in Utah, California, Arizona, and Nevada. Our qualifying agent for Arizona left. I am inquiring about this statement on your website:

“If you’re an out-of-state contractor who has been licensed in California, Utah, Arizona or Nevada for five years, you may be eligible to secure a waiver of the trade exam.” Please let me know what this means for our company?

A: Thank you for your email. The States of Utah, California, Arizona, and Nevada, have a reciprocal agreement that allows for a waiver of the trade exam in one state if the qualifying individual has been licensed for the prior 5 years in another state. For instance, the person who has been the Responsible Managing Employee (RME) or Responsible Managing Officer (RMO) in CA for the past 5 years will likely be able to replace your AZ qualifier with a waiver of the trade test (the law exam would still be required).

Please keep in mind that the overall reciprocity rules are different from state to state. In some cases, like NV, a state will not allow for a waiver of certain license classifications (like plumbing or electrical). In other cases, — AZ being a prime example, I’ve found — the reciprocity waiver is subjective and open to a case-by-case interpretation by the Registrar. In Utah the new qualifier need only be licensed for one day — in one of the other three states — rather than 5 years.

Q: I have been doing a lot of work for homeowners that I have been told requires a license. I would like to get a contractor’s license to refinish bathtubs and one to install gutters. Is the “C-61” classification correct? What testing is required?

A: Yes, the “C-61” (Limited Specialty) classification is the correct classification to handle both of these trades. Within the “C-61” there are 30 categories including the “D-12” (synthetic products for bathtub refinishing) and “D-24” (metal products for installing metal gutters). You will need to show 4 or more years experience in each area and pass the business law exam. There is no longer any trade test for the “C-61”. As an aside, for contractors that already hold a contractor’s license, you may add these “C-61” categories simply by filing an application with the CSLB and showing the required experience qualifications.

Q: If I have a contractor from another state (non-reciprocating) that I want to use as an RMO, does he have to become a full-time employee of the company?

Your RMO should be an employee of your company; however, there is nothing in the contractor licensing statues that says he must be full-time. For instance, if your RMO were able to handle his responsibilities working 25 hours a week, this would be acceptable. On the other hand, if your qualifier is a RME, he or she is subject to more strict employment requirements. The fact that your RMO is from another state or lives in another state has no bearing on his ability to act as your Qualifier.

Waiver of California Contractors License

As the end of this column suggests, one contractor has discovered the secret of success! He quickly learned how knowledge of license law can be a significant ‘tool’ itself. Another wants to find out how to keep their business ‘all in the family’. They also help us all remember why we go to experts when we want accurate information, because ‘a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing’…

Q: I just joined our local Builder’s Exchange and read your latest Kalb’s Q & A in our newsletter. This prompted me to write and ask you the following.

I know of a licensed “A” contractor who is doing “C-10” work only and was wondering if there is an exemption in the license law that allows this specialty work to be performed? The work he is doing is NOT part of a larger scope of work; it is strictly electrical wiring such as 120/240V, installing power meter panels and additional circuitry. I thought the only way for an “A” license to perform that work was if it was a smaller portion of a larger project that required the “A” license. Am I misinformed?

A: You’re not misinformed. For contractors strictly installing “electrical wiring such as 120/240V, power meter panels and additional circuitry”, a “C-10” — not an “A” — would be the proper classification. While I am not aware of any specific exemption in the license law that allows an “A” to perform “C-10” work only, there are some instances where this would be acceptable. For instance, a power plant requiring major electrical repairs could be performed by either an “A” or “C-10” contractor.

Q: Please confirm, if we switch Responsible Managing Officers (RMO), our license number remains the same, correct? I don’t want to draw attention to the switch with ongoing contracts.

A: Simply changing the RMO will not impact your license number. It will remain the same.

Q: We have a family business, which is a corporation. My father is currently the owner of the company and wants to know how we would go about making me the Responsible Managing Employee (RME) or Officer (RMO) so that if anything happened to him, I could stand in and the company would continue to operate without penalties. We are not exactly sure what the guidelines are but we have heard many things. For one thing, we have heard that because I am his son I would not have to take the contractor’s license test. We just started to think about this and couldn’t find any information except from your website. It seems that you have (and offer) knowledge about this subject so if you could please help us out that would be great.

A: I am glad you were able to find this information. Most of my past columns are posted at www.cutredtape.com for people to review and search by topic.

What you heard is partially correct. B&P Section 7065.1 (b) does allow for the transfer of an INDIVIDUAL (sole owner) contractors license from father to son — with a waiver of the law and trade exam — in case of the absence or death of the licensee. However, since your father qualifies a corporation, the license belongs to the company, not your father as an individual.

B&P Section 7065.1(c)) would still apply to your situation in that it allows for the replacement of the existing qualifier on a CORPORATE license even if the person is not a close relative. In both instances, the new qualifier must have worked for this company (or individual) in a supervisory capacity for 5 of the past 7 years in the same classification(s) presently held by the licensee. Note, a waiver can be applied for but is not automatic.

California Contractors Heat Injury Prevention

This may be known in the future as the Summer of Smoke. While some areas have been stricken with devastating fires, nearly all Californians experienced the fallout as ash and smoke blanket our state.

We have also literally ‘sweated out’ this last week in California and the West as temperatures reached highs well beyond 100 in many areas. My compliment to the Valley Builder’s Exchange and other organizations for their pro-active outreach to their members with a web link on the Department of Industrial Relations and Cal OSHA information on preventing heat related illness on the jobsite. While it’s cooling now, to paraphrase a Tennessee Williams title, ‘it’s a long, hot summer’ and it’s not over yet. I will post this on cutredtape.com should you need to link to the download at Valley Builder’s Exchange. (http://www.valleybx.com/flyer/vbeheat%20stress%20fly)

Q: I am the Responsible Managing Officer (RMO) on our license and will be traveling extensively during the next year. My corporation’s President (who is not the qualifying individual) wants to work on several contracts even while I am physically away. If we iron out some “hold-harmless” agreement in the event of something going wrong and he agrees to take on the liability for any unforeseen problem, is it possible this would shield me from potential misdemeanors? To clarify– I don’t expect anything to go wrong, I am just not comfortable being held responsible for something that I was not overseeing, Thank you and I greatly appreciate your column.

A: It’s your decision whether you want to remain as the Qualifier on this license. As RMO, the CSLB would STILL consider you responsible for the company’s day-to-day construction activities, even with a “hold-harmless” agreement. In other words, I do not believe this will shield you from potential disciplinary actions by the State or other legal authorities.

I suggest that the President or another individual take over as the RMO (or RME) until you return. This would involve filing an application with the CSLB and testing by the new qualifier. If you remain as RMO during this year period — regardless whether you iron-out a “hold-harmless” agreement — I recommend contacting an attorney to get his legal opinion.

Q: I was just wondering if you could help me to clarify a few things… First of all, is there a way to transfer a license to someone else? Here’s the situation… I am now in a “partnership” with my brother-in-law and would like to take some “time off” but do not want to lose the license nor the business. My concern is how I could ‘be away’ from the business but not lose the license?” Could I just transfer it over to my brother in law and give him the full rights to the license/business. How long does my brother in law have to be in partnership with me (under the same license #) in order for me to (attempt) the transfer to him? Thank you for your response.

A: If you leave this partnership license for any reason it will be cancelled. Your brother-in-law could apply for a continuance but only to complete jobs in progress (i.e. no new jobs). There is no way to transfer a partnership license under any circumstances. If your brother-in-law has the required four years experience, he can apply for his own license. Note, if you leave the license as a partnership and take some “time off'” you will still be responsible for all work performed.

Removing Qualifier From Contractors License

As a highly mobile society keeping in touch with everyone is often difficult. However, you should always remember to update your address with the CSLB or expect to pay a price. Another contractor discovers that while you may be forgiven, government computers never forget. I hear from a lot of people about getting their contractor’s license, but you might be surprised at how many want to get off a license. How do you do that?

Q: The Responsible Managing Officer (RMO) on our contractor’s license is the company VP. He’s leaving and our President would like to take everyone but himself off the license. How do we go about doing this? Please note the President is also a licensed contractor under his own name.

A: If removing the RMO, you’ll need to file an Application to Replace The Qualifying Individual. To remove all other officers, the President should file an Application to Report Current Officers. Both forms are available from the CSLB.

Q: Our Company moved our office location 2 months ago. We know the CSLB needs to be notified but have we waited too long? What are the rules regarding this and if we waited too long what will the Board do?

A: Because some official correspondence — like your renewal — is often NOT FORWARDED by the post office, it is advisable to inform the CSLB of any address change as soon as possible. However, since you’re allowed to notify the CSLB within 90 days of any change in business address, you have not waited too long. This 90-day time period also applies to changes in business name and personnel (including the qualifying individual). Changes of this nature MUST be made in writing on a form prescribed by the Registrar.

According to B&P Section 7083, a failure to notify the Registrar of these changes within 90 days is grounds for disciplinary action. While the Board could issue a citation to someone who waits more than 90 days, it is unusual for them to do so.

Q: I filed my license application with the Contractors Board months ago. Yesterday I received a letter telling me I had lied on my application and have the option of withdrawing it. This has something to do with my fingerprints and a legal problem over 20 years ago. What do you think we should do?

A: As we discussed, even though you did not knowingly falsify the license application, the CSLB could take formal action against you. It does not matter that you forgot about the legal problem you had as a teenager. This letter is giving you the option of withdrawing the application without any real penalty and re-applying with a truthful response to question #11 (criminal background). I suggest you accept the Board’s offer. When reapplying, give the Board as much information as you can about your “youthful indiscretion 23 years ago”.

While the Board’s disclosure requirements sound harsh, the fact remains that every applicant must divulge ANY and ALL criminal activities in their past. This includes that DUI 30 years ago; a fight in college or something more major. You must disclose this information even if – as in your case – all court records have been expunged.