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As a General Building B Contractor, what kind of work can I do?
What states do we have reciprocity? Can you say “reciprocity” 3 times fast?
How do I add someone to my license?
What is the most a contractor can ask as down payment on a home Improvement contract?
Can I use a different name on my license other my personal name?
How do I file a complaint?
Are there any complaints against (fill in name here) contractor?
Why does the complaint process take so long?
What are you doing about unlicensed contractors?


The Contractors State License Board call center receives and answers more than 30,000 calls every month. Additionally, our regional, district and branch offices field hundreds of calls every day. Many inquiries are from consumers checking a contractor’s license or just asking for directions to the movie theater. Homeowners are not the only CSLB clients who have inquiring minds. In no particular order, below are a list of the most commonly asked questions from contractors of CSLB;

Q: As a General Building B contractor. What kind of work can I do?

A: The law changed effective January 1, 1998 regarding the kind of contracts General Building “B” contractors can take. Currently, General Building “B” contractors can:

  • take a prime contract or subcontract that involves framing or carpentry.
  • take a prime contract or subcontract that involves at least two unrelated trades or crafts (other than framing or carpentry).
  • take a contract for a single specialty trade provided the work of the contract is subcontracted to a properly licensed specialty contractor.
  • take a contract for the work of any specialty license classification for which they hold a specialty license classification.

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Need a translation? With some exceptions (like framing and carpentry), General Building “B” contractors can take specialty work so long as they are licensed to do that kind of specialty work or as long as they sub it out to the appropriate licensed subcontractor. You can read the new description in Business and Professions Code Section 7057.

Q: What states do we have reciprocity? Can you say “reciprocity” 3 times fast?

A: Currently, CSLB has reciprocity agreements with three states: Nevada, Arizona and Utah, and reciprocity is considered on a case-by-case basis. The contractor must hold a classification comparable to one sought in California. If the applicant meets the qualifications, the trade examination only may be waived; however, contractors must still apply for a license and pass the business and law portion of the exam. Additionally, the applicant must certify a license in good standing for the five-year period immediately preceding application here in California.

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Q: How do I add someone to my license?

A: There are different steps, different forms, and possibly additional examinations and new licenses depending if you are talking partnerships, corporation, qualifying individuals, or new business. The best thing to do is to call the CSLB and explain what you want to do.

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Q: What is the most a contractor can ask as down payment on a home Improvement contract?

A: On home improvement contracts for swimming pools, by law you can ask for no more than two percent of the total contract price or $200 down, whichever is less. On all other home improvement contracts, it is 10 percent of the total contract price or $1,000 down, whichever is less. For example, on a home improvement contract of $5,000, you can ask for no more than $500 as a down payment.


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Q: Can I use a different name on my license other my personal name?

A: Yes. You can use a DBA (doing business as) name in addition to or in place of your personal name. You must register your DBA within 90 days of making a change. You cannot use more than one fictitious name. Also, contractors must use the business name shown on their license. The name on the license can be either the license holder’s personal name or a fictitious business name as defined in Business and Professions Code Section 17900. You are encouraged to provide the business name used on your license and your license number to customers. That way, your customers can easily verify the business name as listed with CSLB.


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Q: How do I file a complaint?

A: You need to file a written complaint to get the ball rolling. Get a complaint form by calling 1-800-321-CSLB,  or contacting your local CSLB office. Complete the form (one page back-to-back), attach copies of contracts, canceled checks or other information pertinent to your complaint and return it to the district office nearest you.


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Q: Are there any complaints against (fill in name here) contractor?

A: The Board can tell you if there have been any CSLB legal action taken against a contractor. We do not release information about pending complaint investigations or complaints that have been resolved before CSLB has taken legal action against the license.

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Q: Why does the complaint process take so long?

A: The CSLB receives and closes about 30,000 complaints each year. CSLB district offices process most complaints this way: an employee representative of the Board contacts both the complainant and the contractor for information and attempts to mediate the complaint. If mediation is unsuccessful, the complaint is assigned to a deputy registrar for investigation to determine if there has been any violation of the Contractors License Law. The deputy reviews documents, interviews the complainant, contractor and other parties. An industry expert may be called in to render an opinion. A thorough investigation can take time. The Board is working on ways to reengineer some of our operations, including complaint investigation to speed things along. Right now, the median closure time for a case is 40-50 days.


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Q: What are you doing about unlicensed contractors?

A: The Board’s major weapon to fight unlicensed contractors are the SWIFT (Statewide Investigative Fraud Team). This team sets up stings of unlicensed contractors and conduct sweeps of construction sites. More than one sting every week is conducted. In fact, 88 stings and 135 sweeps were held last year. Additionally, in 1997-98 more than 1,600 citations were issued to unlicensed contractors and 1,014 were referred to local prosecutors for criminal prosecution. If you have evidence of unlicensed contracting (advertisements, flyers, business cards, etc.), contact SWIFT at

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    Northern Region SWIFT: (916) 255-2924
    Southern Region SWIFT: (714) 994-7435


 

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