Business Names, Fire Sprinklers “C-16” and Plumbers “C-36”

One thing you can be sure of in business – or life – is things are going to change. For contractors, this means keeping up on the latest changes in rules that govern what you can do; where you can do it; and when it can be done. Just such a change is a hot topic in the ‘pipeline’. Unfortunately, dodging bureaucratic barriers often begins with your business name…

Q: I recently applied for a contractor’s license and my application was rejected. The Contractors Board stated that the business name I want to use was not compatible with the license classification I applied for. Can you look at the letter they sent and give me your opinion as to why they won’t accept my name? I filed a fictitious business name statement with my county and they had no problems.
A: The CSLB will disallow a business name if they perceive it to be in conflict with B&P Code Section 7059.1(a). This reads, “A licensee shall not use any business name that indicates the licensee is qualified to perform work in classifications other than those issued for that license, or any business name that is incompatible with the type of business entity licensed.”

In your case it appears the Board has two problems with your business name. First, you may only use “Construction” by itself with an “A” or “B” classification (you applied for a “C-39”). Second, they do not believe you’re a partnership since the business name only contains your name rather than both- you and your partner. To deal with both these issues, try “John and Jim’s Roofing Construction” rather than just “John’s Construction”.

The fact that you filed a fictitious business name (dba) statement with your county is a good thing; however, this has no impact on what the CSLB considers acceptable. For anyone else contemplating a name change of their existing business or filing for a new contractor’s license, please realize that 7059.1 can be somewhat subjective and gives the CSLB a great deal of latitude over which name you can and cannot use. Feel free to give me a quick call to advise on the ‘moniker’ you’re considering for your business.

Q: We hold a “C-36” license. The majority of the California builders we work with are now requiring fire sprinklers. The problem is they want the plumbers to add that to their scope of work or they will find new plumbers that can. My question is how do we go about getting a fire sprinkler license on the quick side of things? We don’t want to lose any business in the today’s tough market.

A: Over the years I have fielded questions about “C-36” contractors wanting to add the “C-16” classification for fire sprinklers. This issue has arisen recently due to the code adoption in 2009 by the California State Building Standards Commission that includes fire sprinkler requirements in all new one- and two-family homes and townhouses. The new requirement became effective January 1, 2011.
A few decades ago, plumbers could install fire sprinklers. When the law was later changed, there was a limited time period where plumbers were allowed to grandfather into qualifying for the “C-16”. Sorry, you have missed that ‘window’. Today, you’ll need to hire someone who has 4 or more years experience in the Fire Protection trade or currently holds a “C-16” license. Completion of an Application for Additional Classification will be required and I can help make it ‘quick’.