California Contractor Business Names

When you build a company one of the first things you do is ‘construct’ a business name. Why can’t contractors use some names? Some lead, others follow and when you don’t know for sure, you consult an expert. Honestly, our last question seems to have an obvious conclusion. What do you think is up with that? . . .

Q: I was told by the CSLB that I could not use my business name since it has the word “construction” and I do not hold a general license. My attorney registered the name with the Secretary of State and they did not have any problems. Does the Contractors Board have the authority to deny my license simply because they don’t like the business name? What do you suggest?

A: Section 7059.1 allows the CSLB to disallow a name if they feel it would mislead the public. This is true even if your name is registered with the Secretary of State. CSLB staff have made the determination that “construction” may only be used by an “A” or “B” contractor, or if it has a descriptive word detailing the type of construction being performed. For instance a “C-36” could have a business name including the words “plumbing construction” or a “C-29” would be allowed to use a business name such as “ABC Masonry Construction”.

Your options at this point are to either amend the business name with the Secretary of State or use a ‘Doing-business-as’ or DBA describing the type of “construction” you intend on handling.

Q: I run a license school and recently had a prospective student ask me if I had heard of a new regulation stipulating that holders of a “B” license were not allowed to do roofing work without an additional classification. Is this true? I’ve heard nothing about it. Thank you for your time and assistance.

A: During my nearly 27 years helping contractors, I have often been asked about what a general building contractor can and cannot do. This question can be answered by reviewing Section 7057 (which I have dealt with often in this column). If roofing is part of an overall project involving two or more unrelated trades, there should be no problem with a general builder doing the work. If a contractor will ONLY be handling roofing then he would be advised to get an additional “C-39 class”. The “B” could also take a prime roofing project if he subs the work to a licensed “C-39” contractor. My response would be the same for most any other trade (plumbing, electrical, HVAC, etc.).

Q: I was wondering if you could help me. . . I would like to obtain my “C-10” license and once I have it would like to transfer it into my wife’s name with me having no connection whatsoever. Is that possible? Would I need to incorporate the license and then sell the corporation to her? How might this be possible?

A: No it is not legally possible. As described, you cannot “transfer” your license to another person — even your wife. You may qualify a second license as RME or RMO (or even as qualifying partner) but in doing so you would by definition have a connection to the business entity. It would be improper and unethical to qualify a license and then have no involvement. As a licensed contractor or the qualifying individual for another you have RESPONSIBILITY to ensure that work is being properly conducted.