Thursday, July 15, 2010


An article in the most recent Winter/Spring 2010 edition of the California Sate License Board’s information newsletter “California Licensed Contractor” highlighted a new business practice, known as “express van services.”  The point of the article was to suggest to General Contractors that they can expand or develop their businesses by providing customers with a “broad palette of construction trade skills” for for new projects or repairs . . .”  See page 8 at .
However, a careful reading of the entire article will reveal the more subtle point that a General Contractor thinking of starting up a Handyman-type repair or remodel service may need one or more additional license classifications.  This view is borne out by the law. Pursuant to Section 7057(a) and (b) of the California Business & Professions Code, general building contractors can take a prime contract for a framing or carpentry and they can oversee projects and coordinate the specific subcontractors for a job. However, specialty or subcontractors must be hired to perform work of a single specialty. For example, if a general contractor, operating an express van service, is offered a job calling only for electrical or plumbing work, the general contractor must decline the job as it is more appropriate for a contractor licensed in that particular specialty.
The only exception is if the job requires more than two types of work. Then it is appropriate for a licensed general building contractor to contract for and oversee the entire project. For example, a general contractor can perform a complete remodeling job if it involves plumbing, electrical and carpentry work under one contract.  Under these circumstances, a general building contractor may perform all of the work on a building, or subcontract parts of the job to contractors with specialty licenses.
Understanding that a typical real-life scenario for an express van services company would likely involve a call to perform smaller home improvement jobs like plumbing and electrical repair, it will do-well for a general contractor to be very cautious about accepting such work in light of the resources the CSLB expends in combating unlicensed contracting activity.


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