Do I need a contractor's license in California?

To obtain a California Contractor's license you will need to prepare to pass the examinations with the approved books and the classes, for more information review the Guide to Becoming a California Licensed Contractor.

Who must be licensed as a contractor?

  • Any construction work that costs $500 or more in labor and/or material must be done by a state-licensed contractor. It is illegal to divide a job into smaller parts to get around the $500 limit.
  • Contractors, including subcontractors, specialty contractors, and people engaged in the business of home improvement must be licensed before submitting bids.

Is anyone exempt from the requirement to have a contractor license?

Yes, the exemptions include the following:

  • Work on a project where the combined cost (labor and materials, whether purchased by the contractor or the consumer) is less than $500.
  • Government or other public personnel working on public projects.
  • Officers of a court acting within the scope of their office.
  • Public utilities working under specified conditions.
  • Oil and gas operations performed by an owner or lessee.
  • Someone who sells installed carpets who holds a retail furniture dealer’s license and contracts with a licensed carpet installer to install the carpet and certifies this to the buyer before the installation.
  • Security alarm company operators (licensed by the Bureau of Security and Investigative Services) who install, maintain, monitor, sell, alter, or service alarm systems (fire alarm company operators must be licensed by CSLB).
  • Individuals who install satellite antenna systems on residential structures or property (these installers must be registered with the Bureau of Household Goods and Services); and Get Licensed to Build
  • Owner-builders who:
    • Engage in home improvement and: 1) the worksite is your principal residence for 12 months prior to completion of the work, and 2) the work is performed prior to the sale of the home, and 3) you do not act as the owner-builder on more than two structures during any three-year period.
    • Engage in the construction of new single-family residences and: 1) you do the work yourself or hire employees (paid in wages) to complete the work and do not sell the home for one year after completion; or 2) you hire a properly licensed subcontractor(s) to perform the work in their specialty trade and do not sell more than four homes in a calendar year.

If you would like to see all the Contractors License available, please visit the California page.

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