What is the CSLB?
The Contractors State License Board (CSLB) is the governing agency for construction contractors in the state of California.
The CSLB’s responsibility is to protect the interests of the consumer public by requiring that anyone charging over $500 for construction services is licensed and bonded.
All of the following entities must be licensed in California:
- Contractor Businesses
First established in 1929 as the Contractor License Bureau, the agency began to develop vocational and construction standards in the state of California.
Now the CSLB operates under the California Department of consumer affairs. The CSLB headquarters is in Sacramento, but they have offices all over the state.
The leadership of the CSLB is made up of a 15-member board that appoints an executive officer. The board is also responsible for directing administrative policy for the agency’s operations.
Appointments are made directly by the Governor. The CSLB operates on a $60 million annual budget and is made up of 400 employees around the state of California.
Licenses and Certifications offered by the CSLB
The Contractors State License Board currently offers 73 different contractor license classifications. Each license covers a specific area of construction expertise.
Contractor licenses are broken down into four categories:
- 1A-General Engineering
- 2B-General Building
- 3C-Specialty Classifications
- 4C-61 / D-Limited Specialty Classifications
Each classification except those listed under the C-61/D-limited specialty class requires a construction trade exam in addition to the Contractor LAW EXAM.
Home Improvement Sales Person
The CSLB also requires home improvement salespeople to be registered with the state.
Anyone engaged in soliciting, selling, or executing contracts involving home improvement must complete Home Improvement Salesperson registration.
The goal of regulating every aspect of the construction industry is to protect the consumer as much as possible.
How To Get a Contractor License in California
To get a contractor license in California, you must first have 4 years journey level experience to qualify for an exam date. You can then submit an application to the CSLB and wait to be given a test day.
After passing the exam and activating your bond, you may begin legally contracting in the state of California.
For a more in-depth look at the contractor licensing process, check out some of our other articles. The basic requirements for licensing are:
- Be at least 18 years of age
- Have a valid Driver's License or USA Issued Identification
- Have a Social Security or ITIN #
- Not Currently be on probation or parole
- Pass the Contractor License Exam
Penalties for Contracting without a License
Contracting without a license in California can get you hit with a $15,000 fine and up to 6 months in the county jail in some cases. If you have the experience and are actively bidding on projects, just get the license.
It is the best thing you can do to protect yourself and your clients, as well as position yourself as the authority and the professional.
The statewide investigative fraud team (SWIFT) is a wing of the CSLB dedicated to setting up sting operations targeting unlicensed contractors.
The public can report unlicensed activity, building permit complaints, and even unlicensed advertising throughout the state of California to SWIFT.
The agency then sets up a meeting with the contractor to come to place a bid, at which point the contractor is apprehended, given a fine and ordered to appear in court.
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