What Kind of Contractor Do You Need?
Here are some guidelines to use when you begin searching for state-licensed contractors. Using a licensed contractor could help you avoid financial risk and other problems associated with unlicensed operators.
In California, anyone who contracts to perform work on a project that is valued at $500 or more for combined labor and materials costs must hold a current, valid license from CSLB. You can verify the license or call (800) 321-CSLB (2752).
ALERT Be advised that unlicensed individuals pose a risk to you and your family's financial security if a worker is injured while on your property, your property is damaged, or if the work is incomplete and/or faulty. Few, if any, unlicensed individuals have a bond or workers' compensation insurance. The quality of their work usually doesn't compare to that of a licensed contractor. Don't take the chance in order to save a few dollars. You'll probably end up paying more in the long run.
CSLB licenses contractors in 44 different classifications. This ranges from general contractors to swimming pool contractors, landscapers, painters, electricians, plumbers and many more. It will be easier to decide the right type of contractor if you carefully plan your project in advance and clearly define what you want done to your property.
Understanding the difference between a general and specialty contractor
General engineering and building contractors usually oversee projects and coordinate the specific licensed subcontractors for a job. Specialty or subcontractors usually are hired to perform a single job. For example, if you need only roofing or plumbing work, you may want to hire a contractor licensed in that particular specialty.
A general building contractor also may contract for specialty work, but must hold a specialty license for that work or actually have a specialty contractor do the work. The only exception is if the job requires more than two types of work on a building. Then it is appropriate for a licensed general building contractor to contract for and oversee the entire project. For example, if your kitchen remodeling will involve plumbing, electrical and carpentry work under one contract, you should hire a licensed "B" General Building contractor. Under these circumstances, a "B" contractor may perform all of the work on a building, or subcontract parts of the job to contractors with specialty licenses.