License Exams in Another Language, 2014 SB 407 Water Conservation Update

Can you take the contractor’s license exam in Spanish? Urdu? Or Tagalog?

Once the Legislature creates, passes and the Governor signs off on new laws there is always further ‘give and take’ as agencies interpret what has been written into the books…

Q:  I am an attorney and I have referred many of my clients to you for licensing needs.  I have a new client from Ecuador and I am in the process of helping him set up his business in California and get a Social Security Number so that he can obtain his license.  Obviously English is not his first language and he is very concerned about the exam. Can the Board Exam be taken in Spanish?

A:  No, unfortunately the exam is only offered in English.  Your client can however bring a translator in to the exam with him.   Keep in mind that the translator must be approved by the CSLB in advance.  He will need to check the box on the license application to request the use of a translator

In order to further clarify the new State Civil Code law Senate Bill 407 that became effective January 1, 2014, the CSLB released a bulletin to offer further explanation.

According to the bulletin, the new law “requires anyone applying for a building permit that will alter or improve a single-family residence built in 1994 or earlier to replace all plumbing fixtures with water-saving designs.”  The replacement is a stipulation in receiving the final permit approval, from the local building department.
The California Building Officials (CALBO) group issued an interpretation of “alterations” or “improvements” to mean “any construction to an existing structure that enhances or improves the structure. Construction that is related to repairs or maintenance of the structure is not considered to be an alteration or improvement.

Below is a list of permit types that CALBO does not ‘pull the trigger’ on the requirements of CB 407:



  • Electrical service change out
  • HVAC change out
  • Re-roofing
  • Sewer line replacement
  • Siding or stucco
  • Site work: retaining walls, fences, walkways, etc;
  • Water heater replacement
  • Window replacement
  • Other repairs as determined by the state Building Code

The CSLB released this bulletin with the fear that property owners and license contractors would misunderstand this law and end up paying for new fixtures that are not required, or that they may avoid the possible triggers of SB 407 by not pulling permits at all.

Please be aware that this is not a legal opinion, so please verify the requirements with your local building department before taking action on a project, FYI.