Handyman Rules, Generals, Subs & Materials Payments

A ‘general’ question starts out this Q&A, and for anyone who employs subcontractors a valuable lesson comes with the answer. We discover a ‘major’ glitch in the ambitions of another contractor and a handyman with a ‘minor’ problem…

Q:  I am a General Contractor and the supplier on one of my jobs from last summer recently contacted me regarding payment.  I paid retention to my sub, but it turns out he did not pay his material supplier, and at this point has no ability to do so.  The supplier claims that they filed a preliminary notice, so my question is, as the GC am I responsible to pay the 2nd tier sub’s supplier?

A:  I reached out to a former CSLB employee, Michael Brown, who now serves as a contractor licensing expert witness for attorneys.  He stated that as a General Contractor, you are not responsible for payments to anyone with whom you don’t have a direct contract.  The license law does not provide for discipline in such cases, but a sub like the one described can certainly mess up a project.  One solution would be for the General to require joint checks and/or lien releases from the sub and the sub’s material suppliers in order to avoid this type of problem.

Q:  My question is about getting a General Building license.   I’ve been working for a few years with a contractor doing a little bit of everything (mainly plumbing, painting, drywall, finish carpentry).  I have also done some handyman work on the side such as fencing, and plumbing repair   Do you think I’ll be able get my license with this background?

A:  Thank you for your email.  In order to qualify for a General Building (“B”) contractor’s license you must be able to show 4 or more years full time experience within the past ten years.  The CSLB will require that someone verify your background in two or more unrelated trades — plus rough framing. The Board will look for work in what they consider the “major” building trades (plumbing, concrete, electrical, roofing and HVAC).  Unless you have this work background – especially framing – it is unlikely the Board will accept your application for a “B” license.

If you would like to discuss any aspect of this licensing, please contact us and we’ll be happy to discuss your entire situation.

Q:  I have been doing ‘minor’ repair work for the last several years, but I don’t have a contractor’s license. I would like to know what services a Handyman cannot perform or advertise for.  I plan to get my license once I have the four years of experience under my belt, but until then I want to make sure that I’m not doing anything incorrectly.

A:  There are no specific trades/services that I am aware of that a Handyman cannot perform and advertise for, as long as the total cost of the project does not go over $500, including materials and labor.  Also, when advertising, individuals who are unlicensed are required to indicate in their ad that they do not have a State Contractor’s license.

Feel free to call us when you ready to obtain your license or if you have any additional questions. We can help navigate the route to a successful conclusion in obtaining a license in California, Nevada or Arizona.