Adding a Specialty Classification to California Contractor’s License

We solve the problem, answer the question and help contractors make a ‘connection’ between the law and their work. As our first question indicates, knowing how the ‘current’ rules apply can be tricky. For some contractors, adding a specialty class can open a ‘pipeline’ of new business opportunity. Finally, take note, every contractor in California may be asked to put their ‘hands up’ for fingerprinting . . .

Q: Our company currently holds a “C-20″(HVAC) and “C-38″(Refrigeration) State License. When installing a walk-in cooler or freezer, we always get a city mechanical permit. However, does our “C-38” or “C-20” allow for the connection of the fan coil from a provided electrical circuit? If so, where can this statement be found in writing? Thank you for helping with this question.

A: If installing a refrigerator, refrigerated room or other insulated refrigerated spaces (such as a walk-in cooler), it’s proper to handle all work related to this installation including the electrical connection. By definition, a “C-38” contractor (Board Rules and Regulations 832.38) can install, maintain, service and repair related ducts, blowers, registers and thermostatic controls for the control of temperatures below 50F.

Further, B&P Section 7059 states that a specialty contractor can take and execute a contract involving two or more trades if the performance of that work is “incidental and supplemental” to the work for which the specialty contractor is licensed.

Q: As a licensed “B” contractor, we often perform light plumbing tasks in the overall context of a job – things like changing angle stops, installing a sink or a faucet, etc. Sometimes these tasks are subbed out to a “C-36″(Plumbing); other times they are performed by one of my employees. I am currently considering hiring an experienced plumber as an employee to offer a more complete array of plumbing services (pipe re-routes, relocation of drains, installation of tubs, etc.). This individual, while experienced in the trade, has no license of his own. My question is, as a general “B” contractor, can we simply offer plumbing services under our current license, or do we have to have a “C-36”? As always, thanks for your advice.

A: As you know, A “B” contractor can self-perform most trades including plumbing (personally or through their employee) if it is part of a project involving two or more unrelated trades or crafts. For example, a job installing a new tub/shower would be fine if combined with painting a room or putting in new flooring. You cannot however, advertise to perform “plumbing only” under a general license. To do so you would need to add the “C-36” to your license with you as the Responsible Managing Officer (RMO) or an experienced employee as the Responsible Managing Employee (RME). You can continue to sub out these “plumbing only” projects to a properly licensed “C-36”.

Q: I would like to know if I could pursue a contractor’s license for the “B”, “C-29” and “C-27”. I have worked as a project manager for over 5 years. Please let me know if I would need to test in all areas? Thank you.

A: While the CSLB should ultimately allow you to obtain these license classifications, you may only apply — and test — for one at a time. The Board will require that someone certify 4 or more years experience in general building (“B”), masonry (“C-29”) and landscaping (“C-27”) before approving you to sit for these exams.

CONTRACTOR ALERT: The CA Department of Consumer Affairs is considering a plan to require fingerprinting for ALL contractors – no matter how many years they have been licensed. Presently, the State’s fingerprinting program is only triggered if you apply for a new license, add a class, replace a qualifier, etc. This legislative proposal would mandate that all presently licensed contractors get fingerprinted as a condition of renewing their contractor license. So far, many in the construction industry – including myself -have spoken out strongly AGAINST this idea. More information as it becomes available.