In California, there are multiple state agencies dictating construction laws, however, there is only one agency in charge of enforcement, including proper licensing of businesses and adherence to classification requirements. That entity is known as the Contractors State License Board (CSLB), a division of the Consumer Protection Agency.
The CSLB also promotes policies intended to help maintain the health, safety, and welfare of the public with regard to contractors. As a result, the CSLB requires all contractors to carry a $25,000 Contractor Bond to be properly licensed. As part of the application process, contractors must specify what classification they are applying for.
The CSLB has identified four primary license classification tiers. They are:
Class A Licenses
The A License Classification is for general engineering contractors whose primary business is connected to fixed works that require specialized engineering knowledge and skill. The fixed works in mention include the following:
- Dams and hydroelectric projects
- Levees, river control, and reclamation works
- Streets and roads
- Parks, playgrounds, and other recreational works
- Excavating, grading, trenching, paving, and surfacing work
The A License Classification is different from the other tiers because contractors with this designation are only allowed to work on projects that fit within the scope of their license. They cannot do any supplemental work on the project if it falls outside of the license specifications.
Class B Licenses
The B License Classification (General Building Contractor) is for contractors whose business is in connection with any structures that are built, being built, or planned to be built for the shelter of any people, animals, or movable objects. The construction must utilize at least two non-related construction trades. This does not include anyone that only provides supplies or materials and does not utilize them during the performance of the work. according to Section 7045 of the Business and Professions Code.
Introduced in 2021, the B-2 Classification offers a pathway to licensure for those individuals that may not qualify for the more complicated work of a B license. B-2 licensing allows the contractor to work on remodeling and small home improvement projects that don’t involve framing or carpentry. Like the B classification, projects performed with a B-2 class also require the use of at least three unrelated building trades or crafts for a single contract. This contractor may take a prime contract for trades or crafts which may include, but are not limited to the following:
- Finish Carpentry
- Roof Repair
- Installing, repairing, or replacing electrical fixtures including fans, lights, outlets, and switches
- Installing, repairing, or replacing plumbing fixtures including faucets, sinks, and toilets
- Installing, repairing, or replacing mechanical fixtures. This includes air filters, air delivery, and return grills
Class C Licenses
The C Classification (Speciality Contractor) is the most robust classification the CSLB offers and encompasses forty different specialty trades, including:
- C-2 - Insulation and Acoustical Contractor
- C-4 - Boiler, Hot Water Heating and Steam Fitting Contractor
- C-5 - Framing and Rough Carpentry Contractor
- C-6 - Cabinet, Millwork and Finish Carpentry Contractor
- C-7 - Low Voltage Systems Contractor
- C-8 - Concrete Contractor
- C-9 - Drywall Contractor
- C-10 - Electrical Contractor
- The C-10 electrical contractor places, installs, or connects any electrical wires, fixtures, appliances, etc. which generate or utilize electrical energy in any form or for any purpose. In accordance with the CA Labor Code Division 1 Chapter 4.5, electricians working underneath a C-10 contractor must also be certified electricians. They must follow the Electrician Certification Program requirements listed by the CA Department of Industrial Relations.
- C-11 - Elevator Contractor
- C-12 - Earthwork and Paving Contractors
- Contractors with this classification are able to move, dig and place rock, dirt, or other surface materials. They are however unable to operate on any sources of water. In order to perform jobs involving water, the contractor would need a Class A license as well.
- C-13 - Fencing Contractor
- C-15 - Flooring and Floor Covering Contractors
- C-16 - Fire Protection Contractor
- C-17 - Glazing Contractor
- C-20 - Warm-Air Heating, Ventilating and Air-Conditioning Contractor
- C-21 - Building Moving/Demolition Contractor
- C-22 - Asbestos Abatement Contractor
- C-23 - Ornamental Metal Contractor
- C-27 - Landscaping Contractor
- Contractors with this classification can construct, install, or maintain landscape systems and facilities for both public and private gardens. However, they are not able to install PVC piping for irrigation or drainage purposes. In order to do this, they would need to carry a D-12 Synthetics Contractor License as well. Furthermore, in order to prune and remove trees, limbs, or stumps and engage in tree or limb staking, the contractor would also need to carry a D-49 Tree Service license.
- C-28 - Lock and Security Equipment Contractor
- C-29 - Masonry Contractor
- C-31 - Construction Zone Traffic Control Contractor
- C-32 - Parking and Highway Improvement Contractor
- C-33 - Painting and Decorating Contractor
- C-34 - Pipeline Contractor
- C-35 - Lathing and Plastering Contractor
- C-36 - Plumbing Contractor
- C-38 - Refrigeration Contractor
- C-39 - Roofing Contractor
- Contractors with this designation can install products and repair surfaces that seal, waterproof and weatherproof structures. This work is performed to prevent water or other liquids or solids from bypassing the covering and accessing the structure behind it. Additionally, per Senate Bill 216 (Chapter 978, Statutes of 2022), all C-39 roofing contractors must carry workers’ compensation insurance, regardless of whether they have employees.
- C-42 - Sanitation System Contractor
- C-43 - Sheet Metal Contractor
- C-45 - Sign Contractor
- Contractors with this classification are able to construct and install both electrical and nonelectrical signs, including signs attached to walls, posts, and painted wall signs.
- C-46 - Solar Contractor
- C-47 - General Manufactured Housing Contractor
- It is important to note that for this classification, the CSLB requires the contractor to complete a federally approved initial installer program. The training program must be administered by a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban qualified trainer A certificate of completion for the course is required to be submitted along with the application. For more information on this requirement, see 16 CCR section 825.5.
- C-50 - Reinforcing Steel Contractor
- C-51 - Structural Steel Contractor
- C-53 - Swimming Pool Contractor
- Contractors with this classification can construct swimming pools, spas or hot tubs, They can also install solar heating equipment using appropriate trades or skills necessary for such construction. However, they are excluded from replacing, repairing, or installing any pool motors or pumps. In order to be qualified to do this, the contractor will also need to carry a C-61/D-35 license.
- C-54 - Ceramic and Mosaic Tile Contractor
- Contractors with this classification can install mosaic, ceramic, and other simulated rock slabs. However, the contractor would need to also carry a C-29 license to install baked clay, glass, and natural stone, such as marble.
- C-55 - Water Conditioning Contractor
- C-57 - Well Drilling Contractor
- C-60 - Welding Contractor
- C-61 - Limited Specialty
- A C-61 Limited Specialty Contractor performs work that requires special skill and involves the use of specialized building, trades, or crafts. What differentiates the C-61 classification from the other C-class specialty licenses is that the CSLB does not require the contractor to take a trade examination (§ 7065.01. Contractors License Law Reference Book).
Class D Licenses
Due to the broad range of applications, the C-61 classification has been further broken down by the CSLB into “D” subcategories. The addition of the “D” subcategories was created by the CSLB for administrative purposes but also serves to specify what type of work the specialty contractor can conduct. Below is a list of the current subcategories.
- D-3 - Awnings
- D-4 - Central Vacuum Systems
- D-6 - Concrete Related Services
- Contractors with this license can install reusable steel concrete sections or interlocking precast pavers. It also allows the contractor to perform concrete restoration and operate a concrete pumping service. However, it does not allow the contractor to form, pour, place, or install the concrete. For these acts, the contractor would need to carry a C-8 Concrete Contractor license as well.
- D-9 - Drilling, Blasting and Oil Field Work
- D-10 - Elevated Floors
- D-12 - Synthetic Products
- D-16 - Hardware, Locks and Safes
- Contractors with this designation can install, modify, and repair both powered and manually operated door/window locks, built-in safes, and vaults.
- D-21 - Machinery and Pumps
- D-24 - Metal Products
- Contractors with this designation can install, modify, or repair metal cabinets, lockers and modular storage structures such as non structural prefabricated gutters or fascia.
- D-28 - Doors, Gates and Activating Devices
- Contractors with this designation are authorized to install, modify, and repair all types of residential, commercial or industrial doors including overhead or sliding door assemblies.
- D-29 - Paperhanging
- A paperhanging contractor applies all types and varieties of decorative wall coverings, including paper and vinyl goods, cork, burlap and carpet-type wall coverings. Contractors of this classification are prohibited from applying any paint, oils, or paneling. They would need to apply for a C-33 Painting and Decorating license to do this.
- D-30 - Pile Driving and Pressure Foundation Jacking
- D-31 - Pole Installation and Maintenance
- D-34 - Prefabricated Equipment
- D-35 - Pool and Spa Maintenance
- Contractors with this classification can install, replace, or repair pool motors, pumps, filters, and any above ground piping in connection with pools. This is in contrast with the C-53 classification that allows contractors to construct swimming pools, spas or hot tubs, Contractors will need both in order to complete pool construction.
- D-38 - Sand and Water Blasting
- D-39 - Scaffolding
- D-40 - Service Station Equipment and Maintenance
- D-41 - Siding and Decking
- D-42 - Non-Electrical Sign Installation
- Contractors with this classification are able to fabricate and install non-electrical signs, such as signs attached to walls, posts and painted wall signs. This is in contrast to the work performed with a C-45 license. A contractor would need to carry a C-45 in order to fabricate and install both electrical and non-electrical signs.
- D-49 - Tree Service
- Contractors with this classification can prune and remove trees, limbs or stumps and engage in tree or limb staking. This however does not mean they can construct or maintain landscape systems and facilities. For this ability, the contractor would need to carry a Landscape Contractor (C-27) license as well. Additionally, the CSLB has proposed implementing a new classification, C-49. This class would make sure contractors are properly prepared or equipped to deal with the dangers associated with palm trees specifically. This classification is effective as of January 1, 2024.
- D-50 - Suspended Ceilings
- D-52 - Window Coverings
- D-53 - Wood Tanks
- D-56 - Trenching Only
- D-59 - Hydroseed Spraying
- D-62 - Air and Water Balancing
- D-63 - Construction Clean-up
- Contractors with designation are authorized to remove or clean up any debris from building grounds/structures including but not limited to: concrete, dirt, scrap lumber, drywall, and any paint or adhesive products from windows, floors, ceramic tile.
- D-64 - Non-specialized
- D-65 - Weatherization and Energy Conservation
Occasionally, these D sub-classifications will be deemed obsolete, or they will be redefined, converted, or absorbed to fit into existing and more fitting license classifications based on the scope of work.
The CSLB will review and determine which classifications can be consolidated. Once the board has come to an agreement, the decision is sent to the CA Office of Administrative Law for final review before being approved and amended into the California Code of Regulations. These specialized classifications will then be added to other licenses to allow those existing contractors a larger breadth of work.
Below listed are some examples of classifications that consolidated the D subcategory to another classification.
Consolidated CSLB License Classifications
|Number||Name||Is Now Under|
|D-8||Doors and Door Services||D-28|
|D-13||Fire Extinguisher Systems||C-16|
|D-15||Furnaces||A or C-20|
|D-19||Land Clearing||C-12 or A if license is required|
|D-20||Lead Burning and Fabrication||D-64|
|D-23||Medical Gas Systems||C-36|
|D-25||Mirrors and Fixed Glass||C-17|
|D-26||Mobile Home Installation and Repairs||C-47|
|D-32||Power Nailing and Fastening||D-64|
|D-33||Precast Concrete Stairs||C-29|
|D-36||Rigging and Rig Building||A|
|D-37||Safes and Vaults||D-16|
|D-43||Soil Grouting||C-32, C-12 or A|
|D-45||Staff and Stone||C-29|
|D-47||Tennis Court Surfacing||C-12 or A|
|D-48||Theater and School Equipment||D-34|
|D-54||Rockscaping||C-15 or C-27|
|D-55||Blasting||C-12 or A|
|D-57||Propane Gas Plants||A|
|D-58||Residential Floating Docks||A|
|D-61||Gold Leaf Gilding||D-64|
At Jet Insurance, we are dedicated to helping California contractors get bonded quickly and easily. Call us at (916) 836-5330 or email us at [email protected] and our team of Underwriters will assist with any questions you have.