Mechanic’s Lien Rules, General Builder’s & Swimming Pools and Handyman Limits

Handymen need to remember the scope and limits of their work or they might find themselves ‘a dollar’ over the line and on the wrong side of the law.  Licensed contractors also face significant penalties when projects go astray, including revocation of their license number. Wrapping it up we help settle a ‘buddy’ bet that offers an important reminder about knowledge and power…



Q:  I am a licensed contractor and I regularly read your Q&A’s.  I came across one recently regarding Handymen performing work under $500.  I have never understood this rule completely.  Is that per job, per customer or what are the criteria?


A:  A handyman is permitted to perform work that is under $500 per job and, important to remember, that includes labor and materials.


Q:  You helped me obtain my license recently and I am getting ready to make new contracts but I’m getting confused when looking at the CSLB’s website regarding the Mechanics Lien law. Am I supposed to put the notice on the contract itself?


A:  It’s nice to hear from you again.  A Mechanics Lien Warning is required to be part of a Home Improvement Contract or New Residential Contract.  This applies to every contract or changes in a contract and it can be incorporated within the contract or as an attachment.  The specific wording for the notice that is required is outlined in B&P Code section 7164. Or, if it remains unclear call my office for more help.


Q:  I recently had my license revoked because of a judgment and I’ve been getting conflicting information regarding the repercussions of having a revoked license. Does this mean that I will never be able to get a contractor’s license again in the future?


A:  Not necessarily.  It really depends on the specifics of your situation.  Many times if you can prove that the judgment that resulted in the license revocation has been satisfied then you can in fact obtain a contractor license again in the future.  When you apply the CSLB will review your situation and make a case-by-case determination.


Q: I’m hoping that you can settle a disagreement with a buddy who is also a licensed contractor. Can a “B” General Building contractor perform part of the work necessary for pool construction?  It is my understanding that a “B” contractor can do anything as long as two unrelated trades are involved on the same project.  Is that a good bet?


A: No, that is not correct; a General Building contractor cannot do “anything” as long as two unrelated trades are involved. There are many trades that are not covered within the General Building classification.  In fact, pool construction is one of them!  Even though the project involves two unrelated trades, the appropriate classification would be the “C-53” Swimming Pool license.

According to the State’s definition of the “B” classification, “a General Building contractor is a contractor whose principal contracting business is in connection with any structure built, being built, or to be built, for the support, shelter, and enclosure of persons, animals, chattels, or movable property of any kind, requiring in its construction the use of at least two unrelated building trades or crafts, or to do or superintend the whole or any part thereof.” Sorry, but you lose that bet!

This is also a great example what we think we know versus the actual law, and why Capitol Services is here to provide expert assistance in getting it right. Don’t depend on rumor.  Got a question? We’ve got answers and share the knowledge here so we might all learn from the problems others encounter.