“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.