Is It Legal to Work Outside My Contractors License Classification?

Question: Hi, I have a Painting license in California, I have been contacted by a company that would like to hire me for painting rental properties, as well asother work outside my contractors license classification.

I know I can bid a job up to $499.00 (total labor & materials) that does not fall under my license category, but is there a stipulation as to the (total projects) allowed for one entity or project location, I/E can I do several (separate projects under $499.00) for the same payee and/or project location ?

Or is there a timeline for being able to do more than one project (under $499.00)

Thanks for any info/advice...



Answer: I found the following language at the CSLB website:

All businesses or individuals who construct or alter, or offer to construct or alter, any building, highway, road, parking facility, railroad, excavation, or other structure in California must be licensed by the California Contractors State License Board (CSLB) if the total cost (labor and materials) of one or more contracts on the project is $500 or more.

Work on a project for which the combined value of labor, materials, and all other costs on one or more contracts is less than $500 falls within the minor work exemption. Work which is part of a larger or major project, whether undertaken by the same or different contractors, may not be divided into amounts less than $500 in an attempt to meet the $500 exemption.

So, the $500 rule cannot be circumvented by preparing multiple low-cost contracts on one project. But what is a "project"? For mechanic's liens, the law allows a developer to segregate each individual unit within a development as a separate "work of improvement." But the license regulations might be interpreted to hold that an unlicensed contractor cannot agree to provide $400 work of work at, say, ten different units within the same development--the law might interpret the "project" to be the development as a whole, not ten separate projects. I would not do un-licensed work on multiple units at a development without learning how the $500 rule applies from someone at the CSLB because the plain language of the rule is ambiguous. The CSLB has an information line that can be contacted for an interpretation of this rule: 1-800-321-CSLB (2752).

There does not appear to be any restriction on doing multiple small contracts for the same person/company.


Ask Attorney Dave and Get Answers to your California Construction Legal Questions!

Dave Barnier is an attorney with Barker Olmsted & Barnier , APLC in San Diego California.

Dave's practice includes construction collection practices emphasizing breach of contract claims, mechanic's liens, stop notices and payment bond claims.

You know those business people who are such great people that they end up becoming friends for life? Dave is one of those people.

He's always been so incredibly helpful to us and now he's helping our readers!

Please check out the questions that Dave has already answered and if you don't find what you're looking for, please feel free to follow this link to submit your legal question here.