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The General Contractor License is the classification required in the state of California for all contractors that want to bid on residential and commercial construction or remodel projects where the cost of labor and materials exceeds $500.
General Contractors can oversee projects that include a variety of different trades and areas of expertise including:
General contractors are expected to have a supervisory level knowledge of all trades associated with residential and commercial building projects.
For example, if a home owner needs several things repaired on their home they would hire a general contractor that is licensed and qualified to oversee various stages of the construction process.
They are responsible for sub-contracting specialty tradesman to complete tasks on a construction project.
A General Contractor will often oversee the direct management of a job site and report to either a project manager, architect, or directly to the client.
Construction plans may be delivered to the general contractor who would then asses the scope of the project.
They would then be responsible for:
Anyone in a supervisory role on a construction site should know how to read blueprints.
General contractors have to be able to follow specific designs, symbols, and interpret what an architect is trying to communicate.
The ability to quickly identify lines, abbreviations and measuring tools are vital skills. Blueprint reading is also very important for the General Contractor License test.
A general contractor may be asked to create functional sketches and assess costs and hire workers based on a construction blueprint.
If you would like more info on blue print reading courses that can help you brush up on these important skills be sure to check out my Blue Print Reading Course for a basic introduction to the concepts you will want to know about.
Understanding how to safely contain lead-based paint when altering structures built before 1978 is required by the Environmental Protection Agency.
The most profitable contractors are ones that position themselves as the experts and are the most knowledgable and helpful to their clients.
Becoming EPA Certified is a requirement for general contractors and can be completed in a one day, 8 hour course.
Staying EPA compliant is not only important to the survival of your business but also the safety of your customers.
For a complete guide on how to get the EPA Certification, check out this article.
There is a a lot of misinformation around what a General B contractor can and cant do.
The biggest differences between the general contractor and general engineering contractor license are illustrated below:
To receive an exam date with the Contractor State License Board, you must meet the following basic requirements:
You must also have:
Journeyman level experience means that you have worked unsupervised full time for a construction company, a General B contractor, or union.
The CSLB will want to see four full-time years over the last ten years.
The years do not need to be consecutive, but they do need to be four years in total.
A qualifying individual is someone other than yourself who can confirm your experience.
This person can be either a:
Whoever you choose must include their information and a brief description of your experience.
The main areas of expertise a General Contractor needs to have experience in are:
You must be prepared to submit documentation supporting the experience you claim to have.
The Contractors State License Board gives you many ways to prove your experience including:
The CSLB receives thousands of applications per month so there is a good chance they won’t document your experience but if you are one of the applicants that get reviewed you will need to be ready to submit something.
The CSLB does not accept pictures of projects.
The time it takes to get your application processed and assigned a test date fluctuates throughout the year. Typically you can expect:
I have seen some situations where applicants got their test date sooner and some where they got their test date much later.
The most common reasons your application would get held up are:
The Current CSLB fees are:
Having a criminal record in no way stops you from getting a General Contractor License. I have personally helped guys with all types of criminal records obtain multiple licenses.
The key is to be honest on the application, even if the felony or misdemeanor happened years ago and even if it was expunged.
BE 100% HONEST ON THE APPLICATION, because they will see everything anyway when you do fingerprinting. The CSLB handles criminal records on a case by case basis.
Remember, their responsibility is to protect the public. In my experience, they primarily concerned with criminal charges associated with:
In the state of California, you are required to divulge any criminal charges when applying for any state license even if they have been expunged.
You will need to be prepared to submit anything they ask for regarding your criminal history.
Contractor licenses are broken down into four categories:
1) A-General Engineering (LAW + TRADE )
2) B-General Building (LAW + TRADE)
3) C-Specialty Classes (LAW + TRADE)
4) C-61/D- Limited Specialty (LAW TEST ONLY)
The General Contractor License Exam consists of two parts:
The General Contractor Exam is broken up into five major portions:
1. Planning and Estimation (24%)
2. Framing and Structural Components (23%)
3. Core Trades (26%)
4. Finish Trades (19%)
5. Safety (8%)
What is on the Law & Business portion of the General Contractor License exam?
Here are some things to remember!
Construction professionals from various backgrounds, trades and experience levels get licenses each year in California.
In my experience, most are startled by how different the subject matter on the state exam is from their years of first-hand experience.
Studying just 15 mintues a day consistently can dramatically increase your chances of passing the test on your first try.
Focus on and study ONLY the information that you need to pass the state exam.
If you don’t have the four years required journeyman level experience to obtain a General Contractor License, not to worry.
Your journey begins here.
Construction is a trillion-dollar industry and highly skilled tradesman are always in demand.
Whether you are completely new or have some experience already, there are resources available to you.
Generally someone looking to become a general contractor would want to look into an apprenticeship program.
For a detailed explanation on this process, check out my article: Apprentice vs Journeyman.
Getting the General Contractor License can be a huge step up in your career and position you to grow your business, or become an RMO!
The key is to take action and follow these steps from beginning to end.
If you have found this article helpful feel free to drop a comment below and be sure to check back for updates!
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