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featured image for a blog post about how to get the weatherization contractor license

Weatherization contractors specialize in installation and maintenance of household products designed for energy conservation.

As weather patterns around the country become more and more volatile, there will be an increased demand for energy efficiency and weatherization services for residential and commercial dwellings.

Weatherization contractors that are highly skilled, knowledgeable and provide excellent customer service can build a lucrative business within this growing industry.

This article will cover everything you need to know about the C-61/D-65 contractor license, the state exam, exam study guides, and even how to fill out the application.

What is a C-61 / D-65 Weatherization and Energy Conservation Contractor?

A lightning storm. weatherization contractors specialize in equipping homes for harsh weather conditions

"A weatherization and energy conservation contractor installs, removes, modifies or repairs or provides maintenance services for energy conservation products limited to the following: door and window weather stripping, caulking, water heater pipe wrap, water heater blankets, insulating gaskets for electrical outlet covers, shade screens, shutters, storm windows, tinted window film, residential water flow restricting devices installed onto existing fixture. (DOES NOT INCLUDE INSULATION, GLAZING OR HEATING VENTILATING AND AIR CONDITIONING WORK)" - CSLB.GOV

The C-61/D-65 is the classification required in the state of California for all persons looking to bid on weatherization and energy conservation projects where the cost of labor and materials exceeds $500.

Duties associated with Weatherization and Energy Efficiency

A residential home with a sunset in the background
  • Weather stripping for doors and windows
  • Wrapping and insulating heater pipes 
  • Covering electrical outlets and water heaters
  • Window replacement
  • Crawl space sealing
  • Lighting retrofits
  • Window tinting and insulating gaskets
  • Conducting energy audits
  • Maintaining personal and job site safety
  • Bidding, estimating and accounting

What is a subcontractor?

Weatherization contractors are typically hired by home owners to prepare their homes for extreme weather events or to optimize energy efficiency.

However they may also function as a subcontractor to a General B as part of a larger construction project.

General Contractors oversee that the subcontractor has executed their duties in adhering to environmental regulations and to the specific requests of a client. 

For a more in-depth look at the General Contractor license check out this article.

CSLB

Logo of the Contractors state license board, illustration features a paint brush, hand saw, and cement truck with the letters CSLB above in white

The Contractors State License Board (CSLB) is the governing body for all contractors in the state of California. Their sole responsibility is to protect the consumer public.

They ensure that anyone charging over $500 for construction services is qualified and registered with the state. The CSLB maintains a statewide task force that engages in sting operations to stop un-licensed construction activity. 

Getting caught contracting without a license in California is punishable with fines up to $15,000 and 6 months in the the county jail. The CSLB issues the C-61/D-65 classification for weatherization contractors in the state of California.

EPA Certification

logo of the United States environmental protection agency

When working in or around structures built before 1978, weatherization contractors may need to contain lead paint if it is present.

Knowing the correct procedures required by the Environmental Protection Agency is critical for tradesman working in a residential or commercial setting. 

Lead paint can travel miles through air, rest on soil, and enter air ducts causing potentially fatal respiratory damage.

All tradesman must be a source of information for their clients and community if they want referrals and repeat business. For more information on adhering to EPA Standards when dealing with Lead Paint check out my article on lead safety.

Being able to read and understand blueprints is a core skill for anyone working in or around a construction site. Identifying the structural details and dimensions of a building before making alterations is critical.

Construction blueprints communicate an array of information to builders. Being comfortable with construction blueprints is an invaluable skill for all tradesman, but can be especially important for a construction clean up contractor who may be apart of  a larger construction project.

For a basic overview of Construction blueprints be sure to check out our Online Blue Print Reading course.

Contractor License Requirements

To get the weatherization contractors license in California, you must prove a minimum of 4 years journeyman level experience and pass a two part state exam with the Contractor State License Board.

To qualify for an exam date you must meet the the following requirements:

  • 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

You must also have:

  • 4 Years Journey Level Experience
  • A Qualifying Individual to sign off on your experience
  • A way to prove your experience if the state asks for documentation

What is a Journey level experience?

Journey level experience is gained working unsupervised full time for either a union, or directly under someone that holds the C-61/D-65 weatherization contractors license.

Some Journeyman level tradesman have also completed apprenticeship programs. A Journeyman level tradesman can perform all the duties associated with his or her trade.

The state will want to see 4 full-time years experience within the last 10 years. The years do not need to be consecutive, but they do need to be 4 years in total.

Signature of a Qualifying Individual

The following people may be used as Qualifying Individuals to sign off on your experience when applying for the weatherization contractors license:

  • Licensed General Contractor
  • C-61/D-65 License Holder
  • Fellow Employee (within the last 10 years)
  • Former Supervisor (within the last 10 years)
  • Business Associate
  • Fellow Journeyman
  • Union Representative

Filling out the Contractor License Application

Your Qualifying Individual will also need to provide a brief but detailed description of your knowledge and skillset.

The way this description is written will be critical to whether or not your application is accepted. For example:

“Ben is a nice guy and very experienced” is not descriptive enough.

 The people reviewing your application will want to see something more like: "Sam installed, maintained and repaired door and window weather stripping, gaskets, electrical outlet covers, and shade screens shutters. He has conducted energy efficiency audits" etc. 

For a full list of the exact verbiage to increase the likelihood of your application being accepted. Check out my article on filling out the CSLB application.

The description written by your qualifying individual will need to include the core skills required for the weatherization contractors license.

Proving your work experience

Weatherization contractors may need to document their experience if it is requested by the CSLB

There is a possibility that the CSLB will ask you to submit documentation supporting your experience.

The CSLB gives you many ways to prove experience including: Tax Returns, check stubs, receipts, invoices and even contracts.

Anything you have that can prove you have either run or worked for a company that offers weatherization and energy efficiency services. The state board receives thousands of applications every month.

There is a good chance they won’t request further documentation of your experience. However, if your application is chosen for review, you must be ready to submit something.

Once your application has been accepted, you should receive your exam date within a matter of weeks.

Application Processing, Fees and Criminal History

The average application processing time is between 6-8 weeks.

Typically, you receive your exam date with another 3-4 weeks notice before actually going to take the exam. This time frame can fluctuate based on many factors including time of year (processing time slows down during the holidays), Criminal History, request to prove further documentation of experience

Mistakes on your application can also cause delays. In total the entire process should take 90 days assuming none of the mentioned issues arise.

State Fees

The current state fees are:

1. $330 State Application Fee ( one time fee per application sent to the state board )

2. $200 License Activation Fee ( paid every two years )

You will also need to pay for live scan fingerprinting.

Construction Bonds 

Featured image for a blog post about construction bonds

Upon passing the exam, the state board requires you to have a Contractor Bond numberA construction bond is a security deposit issued by a surety company. Bonds are designed to protect the consumer public against contractor default.

They act as protection mechanisms for clients from unethical or illegal actions performed by contractors. Bonds also ensure that subcontractors get paid for their work. 

Furthermore, they ensure or that a contractor performs his duties as stated in a contract. Construction bonds protect employees, suppliers, sub-contractors or clients against a contractor's failure to abide by an agreement.

For a deeper look at bonding and fees, check out this article.

Can you get a Contractors License with a Felony in California?

Having a criminal record in no way stops you from getting the weatherization contractor license. Thousands of tradesman get licenses each year despite their criminal records.

 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 the CSLB sees everything when you do live scan fingerprinting.

The CSLB handles criminal records on a case by case basis. Remember, the state board's responsibility is to protect the public.

Fraud, Embezzlement and Forgery

In my experience, the CSLB are primarily concerned with criminal charges dealing with fraud, embezzlement, forgery, and financial related crimes.

If your conviction does not fall under these categories most likely, you will have no issues when applying for the weatherization contractor license.

Be prepared to submit any court documents or prove rehabilitation at the state’s request. California requires you to divulge all criminal charges when applying for a state license even if they have been expunged.

The Contractor License Exam

Contractor licenses are broken down into four categories:

1) A-General Engineering

2) B-General Building

3) C-Specialty classes

4) C-61 / D-Limited Specialty classes

Each category of license except the D-Limited Specialty license class requires that you pass a TRADE exam. C-61 Classification licenses do not have trade portions.

You must only pass a LAW exam.

The exam is:

  • 115 Questions on Contractor LAW
  • 3 Hours to complete
  • Multiple choice, taken on a computer
  • Closed Book

The Law Examination is divided into eight major sections:

1. Business Organization (10%)

  •  Company organization
  •  Project organization

2. Business Finances (15%)

  • Cash management
  • Budget and planning
  • Taxes
  • Financial reporting

3. Employment Requirements (12%)

  • Employment regulations
  • Evaluation and record-keeping
  • Payroll

4. Bonds, Insurance, and Liens (10%)

  • Bonds
  • Workers’ compensation insurance
  • Liens and other remedies
  • Other insurance

5. Contract Requirements and Execution (23%)

  • Bidding
  • Cost control
  • Contracts
  • Payments

6. Licensing Requirements (8%)

  • Business license
  • Contractor’s license
  • Activity regulation

7. Safety (15%)

  • Training and reporting requirements
  • General safety
  • Hazardous/unknown materials

8. Public Works (7%)

  • Prevailing wage requirements
  • Bonding requirements
  • Insurance requirements

For more information about what is on the California Contractor LAW Exam, be sure to check out our blog post covering everything you need to know.

CSLB Test Locations

You will take the Contractor LAW exam on a computer at a state testing facility.

Currently, the CSLB testing locations are in Berkeley, Fresno, Norwalk, Oxnard, Sacramento, San Bernardino, San Diego and San Jose.

The CSLB will assign you a testing center based on your location. The test is not available online. The CSLB allows you to bring a pre-approved translator with you.

The CSLB will grant you 18 months after your application is accepted to pass the examination. You must wait three weeks before retaking the state exam ( $60 per retake ).

Contractor License Study Guides and Practice Tests

A pencil and calculator laying on top of a piece of graph paper. weatherization contractors must pass the california contractor law exam

Studying as little as 10 minutes a day for your contractor license exam will greatly increase your chances of success

Getting the C-61/D-65 weatherization contractors license is a smooth process for those with the right information. Understanding the difference between how it is everyday on the job versus what the state expects of you is critical.

I have been told by many contractors with decades of experience that they were not expecting the questions they saw. It can be confusing to see un-familiar terms used to describe tools or job site practices.

The Contractor LAW exam covers a number of different topics.

Questions are presented to you as if you are running a large scale remodeling business with multiple employees. 

Being prepared and knowing what to study is the most important thing you can do in ensuring your success on the contractor license exam.

Looking at some practice tests a long with explanations for as little as 10 minutes a day is a small investment to make, but will increase your likelihood of success.

Apprenticeships

If you don’t have the 4 years required journeyman level experience to obtain the C-61/D-65 license for weatherization and energy efficiency, not to worry. Your journey begins here.

Construction is a billion dollar industry with unlimited income opportunity.

Whether you are brand new or may have worked for a company offering weatherization services in the past, there are books, certification classes, and courses are available in most cities and online to get you up to speed. Usually someone looking to get into the trade would find an apprenticeship. 

Getting hired by a licensed  contractor would be your next step. After gaining the necessary 4 years journeyman level experience, you would then be able to apply for your C-61/D-65 license.

For information on courses in your area or books to get you on the right path click here.

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