General California Contractors License & Public Works Projects

While contractors have worked wonders in building the Golden State, even they can’t be in five places at once! Another contractor hopes to shed some ‘light’ on how General Engineering contractors can soak up some ‘green’ profits. And finally, another lesson in Public Works Bidding 101…

Q: Can an “A” (Gen Engineering) license install wind generators and solar panels?

A: According to B&P Code 7056 an “A” contractor is able to construct …powerhouses, power plants and other utility plants and installations…” This would include wind generators and solar panels. Further, according to CSLB Rule 832.62, the phrase “in connection with fixed works requiring specialized engineering and skill” in Section 7056 “shall include active solar energy systems”.

Q: What is the requirement for a Responsible Managing Employee (RME)? My question regards a contractor with a “B” license with offices throughout the state. What role does the RME have to play in a major project for a major utility? Does he have to oversee all projects? Thank you very much for your input.

A: As I have written before in my column, a RME must work a minimum of 32 hours a week — or 80% of the time a company is operational — whichever is less. While he or she should be a “bona fide employee” and involved in the day-to-day operations of the company, the CSLB does not expect a qualifying individual to be in five places at once.

Using your example, lets say the company is working on multiple projects out of offices statewide. Let us further state that one project is very large compared to the remaining work. If the RME ends up spending 95% of the time on the large project and 5% of his time on the remaining jobs, has he done anything wrong? The answer is NO as long as the RME meets the statutory requirements set down by the Contractors Board.

Q: Why do some local government agencies require an “A” license when the work is only “C-8” concrete? In particular, some cities in Sonoma County are only allowing General Engineering (“A”) contractors to bid on their “Annual Concrete Maintenance” (i.e. new curbs, sidewalk repairs, gutters, etc.) Doesn’t this seem counter to their supposed goal of increasing competition and potentially saving taxpayer $$$? What options do I have?

A: It was nice speaking with you. I wish I could explain why some local government agencies exclude well-qualified contractors on some projects. This is an ongoing problem that I hear about every month from at least one caller. It’s not just a problem in your county; it’s a problem statewide. With millions of dollars flowing to CA as part of the Federal Economic Stimulus package, there are projects up and down the State that have been or are about to be funded. Excluding qualified contractors makes no financial sense!

The goal of these construction funds is to create jobs and get money flowing back into the economy. If a city can save thousands of dollars by having more bidders, this theoretically frees up funds for another project somewhere else. In addition, on a practical level, there is no reason a “C-8” contractor should be denied the opportunity to bid on what is obviously CONCRETE work. As we discussed, since the scope of this work does not include any piping, sewer, paving, etc. – ONLY concrete — in my expert opinion you should be allowed to bid. Common sense would seem to demand it.

However, this being said, B&P Code Section 7059 states, “In public works contracts the awarding authority shall determine the license classification necessary to bid and perform the project”. I doubt you’ll be able to change this contract; however, you may want to appeal to the City Council asking them to modify and correct this situation in future work.