Sec. 7057, General Contractors & Self Performing Work

While not a lawyer, I am often asked to provide expert interpretation regarding contractor’s license law. With nearly 30 years assisting contractors in Sacramento this is often enough experience to settle a ‘bet’. These two contractor questions demonstrate why it’s important to know the answer before you play your ‘cards’…

Q: Dear Mr. Kalb: I am a member of the Santa Barbara Contractor’s Association and represent a number of General contractors. A friendly dispute has arisen over the interpretation of Business & Professions Code 7057. Half of the contractors believe that a GC may only self-perform (either by himself or with his crew) a maximum of 2 specialty trades on a project and the other half believe that a GC can self-perform all of the work under their license. The statute seems to be pretty vague as to whether or not a contractor can do all of the specialty trade work on a single project and there is no case law interpreting this specific issue that any lawyer I know can find.

Subsection (a) seems to say that a GC can do the whole of the project and Subsection (b) seems to say that if the GC does do more than 2 trades they need to be licensed for that additional specialty work. I believe that a GC can do all the trades (except fire sprinkler & well drilling). There is a cup of coffee riding on your interpretation of the statute. If you could let me know or publish the response it would be greatly appreciated.

A: I am happy to provide you with this interpretation of 7057 and break the 50/50 tie. The half that “believe that a GC can self-perform all of the work under their license” can collect that ‘cup of java’.

B&P 7057 states that a “B” contractor must perform “at least two unrelated building trades or crafts other than framing or carpentry”. In other words, two trades are the base, or minimum. There is nothing in the law that limits the “B” to self-performing as many trades as he or she wants (except, as you noted, “C-16” fire protection and “C-57” well drilling). Alternatively, as many GC’s know, they can take a General building contract and sub-contract 100% of the job as long as they use properly licensed sub-contractors for EACH trade or craft.

Granted, the law can appear to be contradictory. It does not allow a GC to handle carpentry or framing and ONLY one other trade; yet they can legally self-perform framing or carpentry ONLY even though this is only one trade. Confusing? Yes but this is what the law states. These seeming contradictions are also the reason why I regularly receive questions on Section 7057 so please tell the other half who thought 2 trades was the maximum that they are not alone.

I hope this resolves the dispute and the victors enjoy their ‘win’. If you have further questions, please contact me by phone or email.

Q: I am the Responsible Managing Officer (RMO) on an existing license (“A” and “B”) and have an offer to become the Responsible Managing Employee (RME) for a new contractor (“B” only). Can I split the licenses and stay on as the “A” only so I can be their new “B” qualifier?

A: Sorry, you would need to disassociate totally from the existing license in order to become the RME for the new company. It is not the number of classifications you hold that determines who can qualify a given contractor’s license. In other words, in your case you cannot split the license classifications.

However, like all rules exceptions exist, and there are several circumstances where an individual can be both the RME and RMO at the same time. Any reader in this situation should contact me personally to discuss your specific situation on a case-by-case basis.