California’s Contractors State License Board (CSLB) will begin accepting applications for the new B-2 Residential Remodeling Classification on June 1, 2021. The B-2 Classification allows more unlicensed individuals the opportunity to obtain licensure so work is done legally and under the guidance of the CSLB. Individuals that are working on remodeling and small home improvement projects but don’t qualify for the more stringent B-General Building License classification can apply for the Residential Remodeling Classification.
To be eligible for the B-2 Residential Remodeling Classification, contractors and applicants must have at least four years of experience working in three or more trades or crafts for residential remodeling projects. Applicants may substitute up to three years of the experience requirement with qualifying education.
Applicants need to pass the B-2 exam, as well as maintain a bond and any required workers compensation insurance. The CSLB website provides workshops and guides to help individuals obtain and maintain licensure. A copy of the Application for Original Contractor License is also available.
Individuals with Residential Remodeling Contractors licenses have restrictions on some of the work they can perform, such as:
- Limited to working on existing residential wood frame structures
- Cannot make structural alterations to load-bearing partitions and walls
- Cannot install or extend electrical or plumbing systems but can make modifications to existing systems
- Cannot install or replace an HVAC system
Risk of Contracting Without a License
In California, it's illegal for an unlicensed person to bid for or perform any home improvement valued at $500 or more in combined labor and material costs. The penalties for being caught contracting without a license can be steep. Unlicensed contractors can face misdemeanor charges that can lead to up to six months jail time if convicted, a $5,000 fine and administrative fines of $200 to $15,000. Continued offenses are more severe. Some offenses can lead to felony charges with even greater penalties. Working as an unlicensed or underground contractor just isn’t worth the risk.
Always Check Out Your Contractor
Before agreeing to hire anyone for a home improvement project, check that they are licensed. Visit the CSLB website where you can search by a contractor’s name, business name, or license number. Next, run a search for the company on the Business Consumer Alliance website www.checkbca.org to get a reputation report. Search the web for reviews, complaints, and information about the contractor. Doing so will give you a better idea of the contractor’s history and reliability so you can make the best informed decision on who to hire.
If you run into a problem that you’re unable to resolve with the contractor directly, contact BCA for help. You can also reach out to the licensing board for assistance and to report problems. If you find the person you hired isn’t licensed, report it to the licensing agency. Customers are not legally required to pay a person who is not state-licensed and the unlicensed individual cannot sue the customer for non-payment.
Looking for a home improvement specialist or contractor in CA? Try BCA’s Contractor Link program, a free service that helps homeowners’ find a trustworthy contractor. Interested contractors can apply to become a partner with BCA under the program.
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