Handyman Subcontractor, Corporate Name Changes & Qualifiers, Enforcement Action

Consumers may consider hiring a ‘handyman’ but how do the rules apply when a licensed contractor hires them?  I help a license qualifier find his way forward after walking away from a job. Finally, of interest to all, is our update on Board efforts to keep a level playing field for contractors …

Q:  As a licensed contractor, I try to play by the rules and carry Worker’s Comp, liability, and bonding.  Can I hire a ‘handyman’ as a subcontractor without having to pay ‘comp’ on him? He has a ‘handyman business license’ from our City and thinks this is adequate licensing. Also, does the law state a handyman can only charge $500 per day, per project, or per customer?   Thank you, I enjoy reading your posts.

A: I’ll answer your second question first.  If a project (time and materials) is $500 or more, a contractor’s license is required.  This is not by the day or customer.

If you hire anyone to work on your construction projects, he or she is either an employee or licensed contractor.  If he does not have a contractor’s license then you’ll need to cover him by Worker’s Compensation Insurance.  A ‘handyman business license’ has little or nothing to do with the issue.


Q: I resigned yesterday from the company where I have been the Qualifier for seven years.   I have an existing corporation and expect to have the new name soon.   Do you think I should apply under the current name or should I wait until the new name is finalized.  Your thoughts on the best route to follow?


A: Either route is acceptable.  You can apply for the license now and change the name later — after it’s issued — or wait until you have the “final” name registered with the State and then file the application.

The CSLB will check on the corporation name on file with the Secretary of State and this must be the same as on the contractor’s license application.

Contractor’s Note:  A local landscape contractor in Solano County has had enough.  As reported on a local Sacramento News station, he said unlicensed contractors are driving him out of business and he was looking for help from the Contractors Board.

CSLB spokesman Rick Lopes confirmed that authorities are putting together a sting operation as a result of multiple complaints lodged by this licensed contractor.  Lopes further stated that a statewide hiring freeze has hampered enforcement of unlicensed activity.  Out of 59 vacancies at the Contractors Board, half are in the enforcement division.

As I have highlighted several times in this column, the CSLB is completely funded by licensing fees paid by contractors.  The Board gets NO money from the State’s general fund.  This hiring freeze is not saving the State any money but is potentially costing legitimate contractors their livelihood.  While the Contractors Board is doing all it can to level the playing field, this hiring freeze is tying one arm behind their back.  If legitimate licensed contractors want more enforcement operations, they should contact their legislators and the Governor’s Office and demand that their licensing fees be used for their stated purpose.

Sometimes it is not the unlicensed individual that causes problems for consumers.  On occasion, it is the licensed contractor that comes to the attention of the CSLB Enforcement Unit.  In the Board’s most recent Newsletter, approx. 650 “former” contractors were listed as having their license revoked during the time period March 2010 to March 2011.  Some of the more common codes violated were Sections 7090.1 (failure to pay a civil penalty or comply with a correction order); 7107 (abandonment of contract); and 7085.6 (failure to comply with an arbitration award).