California’s Contractors State License Board (CSLB) issues licenses to applicants to contract for particular trades or fields — each such trade or field is a “classification.” The classifications are a “Class A” general engineering contractor, “Class B” general building contractor, and “Class C” specialty contractor (which includes an extensive number of
subcategories). A licensed contractor may add any classification for which it is qualified. The law governing the classifications are set forth in California Business & Professions Code §§ 7008 and 7056-7059.
A Class A general engineering contractor’s principal business is in connection with fixed works requiring specialized engineering knowledge and skill. In contrast, a Class B general building contractor’s principal business is in connection with any structure built, or to be built, requiring in its construction the use of at least two unrelated building trades or crafts.
In contrast to both Class A and Class B classifications, a Class C specialty contractor’s principal business is in connection with specialized trades requiring use of the contractor’s art, experience, science and/or skill to construct and complete projects under their classification. For purposes of Business & Professions Code § 7059, work in other classifications is “incidental and supplemental” to the work for which a specialty contractor is licensed if that work is essential to accomplish the work in which the contractor is classified (16 CCR § 831). A specialty contractor may use subcontractors to complete the incidental and supplemental work, or it may use his own employees to do so (16 CCR § 831). (Also Note that, for example, aClass A, Class B, C-4, C-10, C-36, C-46, C-53 licensees are approved by the CSLB to perform solar projects.) The Class C specialty classification (and subcategories) are set forth in the Title 16, Division 8 of the California Code of Regulations:
C-2 Insulation and Acoustical C-4 Boiler, Hot-Water Gearing and Steam Fitting C-5 Framing and Rough Carpentry C-6 Cabinet, Millworker and Finish Carpentry C-7 Low Voltage Systems C-8 Concrete C-9 Drywall C-10 Electrical C-11 Elevator C-12 Earthwork and Paving C-13 Fencing C-15 Flooring and Floor Covering C-16 Fire Protection C-17 Glazing C-20 Warm-Air heating, Ventilation and Air-Conditioning (HVAC)
C-21 Building Moving/Demolition C-23 Ornamental Metal
C-27 Landscaping C-28 Lock and Security Equipment C-29 Masonry C-31 Construction Zone Traffic Control C-32 Parking and Highway Improvement C-33 Painting and Decorating C-34 Pipeline C-35 Lath and Plastering C-36 Plumbing C-38 Refrigeration C-39 Roofing C-42 Sanitation System C-43 Sheet Metal C-45 Sign C-46 Solar C-47 General Manufactured Housing C-50 Reinforcing Steel C-51 Structural Steel C-53 Swimming Pool C-54 Tile (Ceramic and Mosaic)
C-55 Water Conditioning C-57 Well Drilling C-60 Welding C-61 Limited Specialty, which includes “D” subcategories that were developed by CSLB staff and approved by the Board as policy:
D-03 Awnings D-04 Central Vacuum Systems D-06 Concrete-related Services D-09 Drilling, Blasting and Oil Field Work D-10 Elevated Floors D-12 Synthetic Products D-16 Hardware, Locks and Safes D-21 Machinery and Pumps D-24 Metal Products D-28 Doors, Gates and Activating Devices D-28 Paperhanging D-30 Pile Driving/Pressure Foundation Jacking D-31 Pole Installation and Maintenance D-34 Prefabricated Equipment D-35 Pool and Spa Maintenance 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 D-49 Tree Service D-50 Suspended Ceilings D-52 Window Coverings D-53 Wood Tanks
D-56 Trenching D-59 Hydroseed Spraying D-62 Air and Water Balancing D-63 Construction Cleanup D-64 Non-specialized
D-65 Weatherization and Energy Conservation
Some licensees may hold a license in a classification that is now considered obsolete. The license, however, remains valid so long as the license is current with fees, bond and appropriate insurance.
California also has reciprocity agreements with contractor licensing agencies in Arizona, Nevada, and Utah for certain classifications and subcategories. The contractor or license applicant must request reciprocity.
California Business & Professions Code §§ 7040, et seq., set forth various exemptions from the licensing law.