RME Liability, Electrical Component Installations & “C-61″/”D-12”

The interaction with contractors and the feedback from readers is why this is written. Knowing you read every word is both gratifying and always of concern in getting it exactly right. We welcome your input positive or negative in serving to provide the assistance you need. We get started with a question that may have no answer, or a different one in another situation…

Q:  My Company wants me to be the Responsible Managing Employee (RME) on their contractor’s license.  What kind of liabilities do I take on as the RME?  If the company is sued or has a judgment filed against the license, am I held responsible?


A: This is always a difficult topic because there is no cut and dry answer.  The CSLB regulations typically refer to “responsibilities” of an RME rather than “liabilities”.  The responsibilities include being actively involved in the construction activities as a bona fide employee and working at least 32 hours per week, or 80% of the time the company is in business, whichever is less.


As an employee and not an Officer of the company, an RME would not typically be held financially responsible if the company were sued or if there was a judgment filed against the license.  However it would depend on the situation and it would ultimately be up to the courts or the CSLB to decide. Checking with your legal advisor is also always a good idea when making important business decisions.


Q:  Our company does specialized repair work and I’m curious whether we need to have a contractor’s license.  We do repair work on Commercial Utility Scale Solar Inverters.  Basically it’s an electrical unit that is the bridge between the solar panels and the grid.  All the work we do is in relation to the inverter.  It consists of replacing failed electrical components, transformers, fuses, controller board, and on occasion we replace some of the wiring inside of the Inverter.  Any information you can provide would be helpful.


A:  Yes, you do need a contractor’s license to perform that type of work.  A “C-10” Electrical license would be the appropriate classification in order to repair solar inverters.

Q:  I have been working for a contractor for several years but now want to get my own license.  The company handles a number of trades, but I’m looking at getting a license to apply caulking, sealants and epoxy.  I want to refinish bathtubs; do caulking around windows and anything else allowed by this license around homes and businesses.  What do you suggest I apply for at the Contractors Board?


A:  The “C-61”/”D-12” (Synthetic products) classification is what you need.  Among other things, this classification allows you to install vinyl and epoxy products, handle bathtub and enamel refinishing, and apply synthetic caulking and sealants — including resin — to a wide variety of surfaces.  These can be in and around homes, commercial businesses, as well as public buildings. If qualified, you can also install synthetic turf, rodent guards, and subsurface irrigation drip systems.

You will need to show the CSLB that you have at least 4 years experience within the past ten years in this trade.  You will also be required to pass a business/law exam (there is no trade test).  Thank you for your question and if you need any help in dealing with the CSLB, please contact us.

Contractor’s Note: One of our loyal readers got in touch to ask for clarification of a recent question. The question was regarding a “B” contractor who wanted to know if they could self-perform plumbing and HVAC work.  In my answer I stated that a “B Contractor must perform at least 2 unrelated trades”.  The answer should have been that a “B” contractor must contract for at least 2 unrelated trades.  “B” contractors can either perform the trades, or subcontract the work out.  Good catch, we always welcome and appreciate feedback!


Generals Adding Electrical and Fingerprint ‘Vacations’

A contractor with a great deal of on-the-job history is ‘shocked’ to learn that his work experience won’t do ‘double duty’ as he seeks to add a new class to his existing license. Another license-seeker is advised to remember the sunscreen when he visits California for a ‘fingerprint’ vacation from his starting point between a rock and a hard place…

 Q:   I have had a General Building (“B”) license since 2011.  To obtain that license I used my work experience from 2006 thru 2011.  As part of my building projects I have regularly done electrical work.  I applied to add the “C-10” classification to my license and on the work experience page I documented my experience from 2006 up until now.  The CSLB rejected my application stating that I had already used some of that time to obtain my “B” license.  If I cannot re-use some of that time, and I’m only able to use the time period of 2011 thru the present, obviously I won’t meet the 4-year requirement.  I have done NUMEROUS electrical projects that I’m confident would add up to a total of four years, but my electrical experience was gained throughout the time I’ve been in the construction business which is since 2006. Can you help?


A:  This could be difficult to prove as verifiable experience because you are correct; the CSLB considers this “overlapping experience”.  Besides the overlapping experience, the CSLB assumes that since you have a “B” license you are completing a variety of trades on each job, and not the same trade day after day.  In order to qualify for a specialty classification such as the “C-10”, you must show that you performed electrical work every day for 4 full years for approximately 8 hours a day.


While it will be difficult to prove, it’s not impossible!  I assume that they sent you a letter requesting further information.  If you are able to show proof of the electrical work by providing them with signed contracts or permits that were pulled then you will be in a better position to be approved.  You should also consider submitting a letter explaining how you were able to perform electrical work full-time in conjunction with your building license. Get back with us for further help as needed.


Q: We are in the process of applying for a new contractor’s license in CA.  Our CEO is based in South Carolina.  We are being told that if he doesn’t fly out to California to get live scan fingerprints done, and instead does the hard copy fingerprint card method, the process may take 3-6 months!   We have a job coming up and we just can’t wait that long to get the license but at the same time we are having difficulty getting our CEO, who is extremely busy, to fly to California just for that.  Is there any way to pay extra to expedite the fingerprint card method?  If not, can he do live scan in South Carolina?  I know they have live scan facilities here and I don’t understand why that wouldn’t be acceptable?

A: Let me start by saying that you are not alone.  We talk to people in this same predicament on a daily basis.  There is no way to expedite the fingerprint card method, and it is true they take much longer to process than the live scan fingerprints.  The CSLB will only accept live scan fingerprints done at a facility in the State of California.  It’s unfortunate, but your only choices are to do the card method and have the application delayed, or have your CEO squeeze in a “fingerprinting vacation” to sunny California.

“B”, “C-5”, “C-27”, “C-61″/”D-41” Decks and LLC Licensing

Sometimes the ‘landscape’ of contractor’s regulation is like ‘separating the forest from the trees’.  We give added perspective to a recent answer that some thought had us ‘barking’ up the wrong tree! We save another aspiring contractor half of what he might have paid to license his corporation…


Q:  In a recent column in a Builder’s Exchange, you were asked what type of license was required to build a deck with a patio covering.  You stated that a “B,” “C-5”, or a “C-27” was needed.  How can a “C-27” landscape contractor do structural building of a deck with a cover over it?  This has confused a number of us.  Can you please explain?


A:  Thank you for your inquiry.  A “C-27” Landscape contractor may contract to build a deck with a patio cover because it’s considered part of the outdoor landscape.  According to Board Rule 832.27 a landscaping contractor can perform “landscape systems and facilities…which are designed to aesthetically, architecturally, horticulturally, or functionally improve the grounds within or surrounding a structure or a tract or plot of land…”


Generally there are no restrictions on the height, size, or type of deck that a landscaping contractor can build, however certain structural work may be precluded.  The CSLB reviews and determines these restrictions on a case-by-case basis.


Q:   I read your recent column regarding the deck and patio cover.  Would it make any difference if the cover was not included?  I build backyard decks all the time but do not hold any of the listed classifications (I have a “C-61”/”D-41”).  In case I am doing it wrong, please do not use my name or city.


A:    Thank you for your call, answers here are always anonymous.  As we discussed, the “C-61”/”D-41” can properly build wooden decks as long as there is no cover or enclosure.  By definition, “a siding and decking (“D-41”) contractor applies or installs all types of exterior siding including wood, wood products, vinyl, aluminum and metal siding to new or existing buildings.  This contractor also constructs wooden decks and related handrails.  This work shall not include the construction or installation of covers or enclosures of any kind.”

Regarding using your business name, rest assured that we do not include – and have never included – the actual name of the person or company asking the question.  All questions and answers are anonymous and therefore only referenced by a “fictitious” name in quotes. The goal is to share knowledge, not blow your cover!


Q:  I read your column through the Central California Builder’s Exchange and appreciate your advice.  I am considering starting my own General Engineering construction business within the next 6 months.  I do not have a contractor’s license yet but have managed a very successful construction business for over 15 years.  To speed up the process, does it make sense to apply for and obtain a contractor’s license in my own name?  I would not operate as a sole proprietor but would use my personal contractor’s license to obtain another one for the business.  I plan to operate as an LLC or corporation.

A:  It does not speed up the process to apply for a license in your own name prior to applying for a corporation or LLC license.  Whenever there is a change of entity (i.e. sole proprietor applying for a corporate license or whatever the case may be) you are required to re-apply for a license, so in essence you would be going through the licensing process twice.  Not to mention paying the license and bonding fees twice!

If you don’t intend on doing business as a sole proprietor then you may be best applying in the company name right off the bat.  It’s also best to consult with an attorney or CPA when making these business decisions.

General Payments, Updating Officers and Asbestos Certification

A contractor unsure about what license is required to ‘cut the deck’ is in the cards this time. We offer a second ‘deal’ on a ‘bad hand’ dealt to a contractor who got incorrect advice on asbestos abatement from a friend, but begin with a sub-contractor who ‘folded’ on the game before it was finished…

Q:  I am a General Building Contractor and one of the sub-contractors that I hired to do some installations left the job unfinished.  What can I do about this?

A: While it depends on the specifics of your situation, there are several options for you especially if you’ve already paid the subcontractor.  You can file a claim against the sub-contractor’s bond; take the sub-contractor to small claims court; or file a complaint with the CSLB.  You can visit the CSLB’s website for more information on the complaint procedure.


Q:  I recently sent in my contractor’s license renewal application.  On the renewal form I had updated our Officers so that the CSLB would in turn update their system.  I noticed that the renewal was processed and our license is good for another two years, however the Officers have not been updated.  Is there a way you can check on this for us?

A:  Without checking on this I can tell you that the CSLB did not update your Officers because you cannot make any personnel changes on a renewal application.  To remove, change, or add personnel you are required to complete the appropriate CSLB forms.  For adding new officers you need to submit an “Application to Add” personnel, and to remove current officers you should submit a “Disassociation Notice”.   Please contact our office if you need assistance with these modifications to your license.

Q:  What classification would be required to build a deck with a patio cover?

A:  There are several classifications that would permit you to build a deck with a patio cover.  The “B” General Building, the “C-5” (Carpentry), or the “C-27” (Landscaping) classifications would each allow you to perform that work.


Q:  I would like to obtain a California contractor’s license for asbestos abatement but I’ve been told that I first need to obtain a General Contractors License.  I don’t have the required experience to qualify for a General license!  Is there any way around this?


A:  First of all, asbestos abatement by itself is not a CSLB license classification.  The asbestos certification is issued only to currently licensed contractors and only allows for the contractors to perform asbestos-related work exclusively within the license classification that is held by the contractor.  There is no requirement that the classification specifically be General Building.


Contractors who want to become certified to perform asbestos removal and/or abatement are required to pass an exam administered by the CSLB and they also must register with the Division of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH).