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An hourly rate is not a contract agreement and you can work as many hours as you want for as much money as you want without a contractor's license and you can buy and resell the materials as long as you have a resale license and do the proper reporting.

The thing you need to watch for when working by the hour for one person is you need to pay your federal and state taxes, or you will get nailed. Your employer, even if an apartment owner, is supposed to carry worker's comp insurance for you and report all your earnings. Although, just because nobody reports your earnings this does not mean you are an independent contractor and you do not need a license. For example, a person owns 100 apartment units and you work for him for $40 an hour. He is your only customer and this does not require a contractor's license.

As for qualifying for a license, I got my first California contractor license base on my working as a janitor for several apartments buildings. The landlord was deceased and I had nobody to verify my work experience with the exception of friends and I had no problem qualifying the work experience, but that was 40 years ago

I think people worry too much like the contractor's board is a monster that doesn't want you to have a license. I think the opposite because the contractor's board want people to have licenses because they profit from the fees and the licenses raise the bar for everyone.
No im not crazy and yes all you legally can charge is 11.00. Actually you can charge as much as you want you just have to be licensed. It says this right on the cslb site in plain English and Spanish
 

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I will call the CSLB on Monday

No im not crazy and yes all you legally can charge is 11.00. Actually you can charge as much as you want you just have to be licensed. It says this right on the cslb site in plain English and Spanish
These words below come from the CSLB's website. The word 'project' is not defined regarding whether this means the unlicensed contractor's project as stated in his contract, or the entire project such as a $12,000 bathroom remodel.

So, if what you are saying is true then an unlicensed contractor can't do a penny's worth of work if a customer is remodeling a bathroom such as he can't install the bathroom sink for a contract price of $300 because the overall cost of the bathroom is $12,000.

There is no way the CSLB is going to ask the entire cost of a project and not allow an unlicensed contractor to perform a contract up to $500. In that case, for a $12,000 bathroom remodel, according to what you say, a customer could not hire an unlicensed contractor to paint the bathroom for $250, and not be able to hire an unlicensed contractor to install that fancy baseboard for $300, and not be able to hire a handyman to install door knobs and towel bars, etc.

This is from the CSLB

Legal Action

It is illegal for an unlicensed person to perform contracting work on any project for which the combined price of labor and materials is $500 or more. CSLB works to curtail underground economy contracting activities and reduce unlicensed activity through stings, sweeps and other enforcement actions.

http://www.cslb.ca.gov/Consumers/FilingAComplaint/ComplaintAgainstUnlicensedContractors.asp
 

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Discussion Starter #23
Also it doesn't say the contact can't be more then 500 dollars it says the whole job can't be more then 500 dollars. That means it can't be split up.
It says the contract can't be more than $500 and the "job" can't be split up. But my question is how do we define a "job"? If a client wants me to plant some trees in his yard and the materials and labor totals to $499, and then a week later he asks me to do another $499 tree planting, isn't this a separate job?

Also someone said that if I'm paid hourly that my client has to be an employer and deal with all the taxes and associated B.S. Can someone verify this?
 

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jwatts said:
It says the contract can't be more than $500 and the "job" can't be split up. But my question is how do we define a "job"? If a client wants me to plant some trees in his yard and the materials and labor totals to $499, and then a week later he asks me to do another $499 tree planting, isn't this a separate job? Also someone said that if I'm paid hourly that my client has to be an employer and deal with all the taxes and associated B.S. Can someone verify this?
If the contractors board finds out you have done several landscaping projects on one house they can call it what they want and I'll bet they call it one landscaping job.

It's no secret that if you put someone on your payroll you have to abide by all applicable employer related laws. Just because your a HO doesn't mean you are exempt from workers comp, unemployment insurance, and all payroll liabilities the same as any employer, because that's what he is, an employer, if he hires you by the hour. That would be considered owner builder, and here is your verification.

Another excerpt from the CSLB

Owner-Builder Responsibilities

This section outlines the job responsibilities of a property owner when they decide to handle their own construction projects as an owner-builder.

When you sign a building permit application as an owner-builder, you assume full responsibility for all phases of your project and its integrity. You must pull all building permits. Your project must pass codes and building inspections.

The owne-/builder is responsible for ordering materials and making sure all suppliers are paid.

An owner-builder also is responsible for supervising, scheduling, and paying subcontractors. If you use anyone other than your immediate family or a licensed subcontractor for work, you may be considered an “employer.”

Employers must register with the state and federal governments and are obligated to participate in state and federal income tax withholding, federal Social Security taxes, workers' compensation insurance, disability insurance costs, and unemployment compensation contributions.
 

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It is all separate jobs and legal!

It says the contract can't be more than $500 and the "job" can't be split up. But my question is how do we define a "job"? If a client wants me to plant some trees in his yard and the materials and labor totals to $499, and then a week later he asks me to do another $499 tree planting, isn't this a separate job?

Also someone said that if I'm paid hourly that my client has to be an employer and deal with all the taxes and associated B.S. Can someone verify this?
There is no written time limit in the law books stating that you have to wait a period of time between contract agreements for jobs less than $500. Who is going to question how many times a customer calls you to do some planting?

The contractors board is only looking for unlicensed contractors who are doing one (1) single job for more than $500 and/or trying to break the one large job into smaller jobs. Nobody cares how many times a customer calls you for jobs that are less than $500 and I would not even think about asking the question. Nobody cares!

Suppose you did 10 separate jobs for $500 for the same customer and all were during the same week. Who is going to complain to the CSLB?

I turned in many contractors for not having licenses and was told by the CSLB unit that they could do nothing because the only time they will respond to a complaint is when the actual customer calls. The CSLB supposedly has the 'hot team' or whatever they call it. I called them several times regarding jobs in progress and they told me they could do nothing.

I turned a plumbing company in to the building department a few weeks ago. The city inspector went to the job, could see where the entire yard was dug up, could see the new pipe, and said he could do nothing because he did not see the work being done. No citations! No Nothing!

The strange thing is nobody cares and regardless of what you hear about the stings it seems like only the licensed contractors get the bulk of the fines.

There is no law against being an unlicensed contractor and unlicensed contractors can do as many $500 jobs as they want, as often as they want, at the same address as many times as they want, and as long as they are not trying to beat the laws by breaking larger jobs into smaller jobs.

Seriously? Can you ask your customers not to call you for a job less than $500 because you exceeded the limit on the number of $500 jobs you did for that one customer, or that one address? Do you really have to ask your customer how much he spent on his garden so you can calculate the entire job's material and labor cost?

"Yes, sir, I can install your plants for $500, but first I need to know how much you are spending on this entire project because I can't work on a project where the customer is spending more than $500 for all labor and materials combined?"

The question is crazy! I would tell you it is none of your business regarding how much my project costs me.
 

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pcplumber said:
There is no written time limit in the law books stating that you have to wait a period of time between contract agreements for jobs less than $500. Who is going to question how many times a customer calls you to do some planting? The contractors board is only looking for unlicensed contractors who are doing one (1) single job for more than $500 and/or trying to break the one large job into smaller jobs. Nobody cares how many times a customer calls you for jobs that are less than $500 and I would not even think about asking the question. Nobody cares! Suppose you did 10 separate jobs for $500 for the same customer and all were during the same week. Who is going to complain to the CSLB? I turned in many contractors for not having licenses and was told by the CSLB unit that they could do nothing because the only time they will respond to a complaint is when the actual customer calls. The CSLB supposedly has the 'hot team' or whatever they call it. I called them several times regarding jobs in progress and they told me they could do nothing. I turned a plumbing company in to the building department a few weeks ago. The city inspector went to the job, could see where the entire yard was dug up, could see the new pipe, and said he could do nothing because he did not see the work being done. No citations! No Nothing! The strange thing is nobody cares and regardless of what you hear about the stings it seems like only the licensed contractors get the bulk of the fines. There is no law against being an unlicensed contractor and unlicensed contractors can do as many $500 jobs as they want, as often as they want, at the same address as many times as they want, and as long as they are not trying to beat the laws by breaking larger jobs into smaller jobs. Seriously? Can you ask your customers not to call you for a job less than $500 because you exceeded the limit on the number of $500 jobs you did for that one customer, or that one address? Do you really have to ask your customer how much he spent on his garden so you can calculate the entire job's material and labor cost? "Yes, sir, I can install your plants for $500, but first I need to know how much you are spending on this entire project because I can't work on a project where the customer is spending more than $500 for all labor and materials combined?" The question is crazy! I would tell you it is none of your business regarding how much my project costs me.
You are just wrong about all this. Why do any of us need a license if we can just do what you are saying can be done? And yes he is suppose to make sure the job does not go over 500 dollars. The best way around this is get a license like the rest of us. If he doesn't qualify then he can't contract outside of the rules. I guess he can do it illegally and nothing will happen if he doesn't get caught. What usually happens is the HO and the "non-contractor" get in a disagreement and it becomes a legal issue. The state can get involved. One thing you might consider is if you get hurt badly and his insurance company gets involved it opens up the whole can of worms. Or if an accident happens and someone else gets hurt it's not going to be the HO the opens the can of worms it will be an insurance company's lawyers.
 

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We will settle this on Monday.

You are just wrong about all this. Why do any of us need a license if we can just do what you are saying can be done? And yes he is suppose to make sure the job does not go over 500 dollars. The best way around this is get a license like the rest of us. If he doesn't qualify then he can't contract outside of the rules. I guess he can do it illegally and nothing will happen if he doesn't get caught. What usually happens is the HO and the "non-contractor" get in a disagreement and it becomes a legal issue. The state can get involved. One thing you might consider is if you get hurt badly and his insurance company gets involved it opens up the whole can of worms. Or if an accident happens and someone else gets hurt it's not going to be the HO the opens the can of worms it will be an insurance company's lawyers.
Why do you need a license? You don't if you want to limit your contractor to a maximum of $500.

Why doesn't he (whomever he is) get a license? There are millions of reasons. Maybe he is a felon and can't get a license, but still has the right to do jobs for less than $500. Maybe he is satisfied with jobs less than $500 and doesn't want the CSLB probing him with a microscope.

Wrong! I just filled out a form with the questions and will mail it to the CSLB. On monday, I will call the CSLB and my attorney to get verification.

The insurance and liability are not related to the question because it is legal to contract for less than $500 and we are not questioning insurance nor liability issues.

I don't know what the license board does when a consumer files a complaint against an unlicensed contractor and the job is less than $500. They probably try to resolve the issue, but one thing for sure is they can't revoke the license.
 

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pcplumber said:
Why do you need a license? You don't if you want to limit your contractor to a maximum of $500. Why doesn't he (whomever he is) get a license? There are millions of reasons. Maybe he is a felon and can't get a license, but still has the right to do jobs for less than $500. Maybe he is satisfied with jobs less than $500 and doesn't want the CSLB probing him with a microscope. Wrong! I just filled out a form with the questions and will mail it to the CSLB. On monday, I will call the CSLB and my attorney to get verification. The insurance and liability are not related to the question because it is legal to contract for less than $500 and we are not questioning insurance nor liability issues. I don't know what the license board does when a consumer files a complaint against an unlicensed contractor and the job is less than $500. They probably try to resolve the issue, but one thing for sure is they can't revoke the license.
No but they will make sure the non contractor didn't do any of the work on the property that added up to more then 500 dollars. They won't take the old " well I did this part this week and that part last month" because it won't work. It's a dodge of the laws that's why it won't work. But then again the chances of getting busted for that are pretty slim. All I'm trying to say is you can't dance your way into making it legal. If your skirting the law then treated as such.
 

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jwatts......I appreciate that you are trying to stay legal You are getting mostly accurate advice on this thread. Do yourself a favor and ignore the obvious bad advice at skirting the law. For someone to call out the license guru as incorrect, as well as several others is just plain wrong. The laws are pretty clear as to the $500 limit being a project's value including labor and materials. The labor laws are also pretty clear as to being hired on an hourly basis, you would then be an employee with all the labor/tax burdens that go with it. The only legal way you could work an hourly T&M, or even just an hourly time job that exceeds $500 including any materials the HO buys, would be to possess a contractor's license.
Good luck to you.....I'm done here as I don't do internet arguments with anyone that would otherwise just continue to spout misinformation.
 

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Now, you've got me motivated.

jwatts......I appreciate that you are trying to stay legal You are getting mostly accurate advice on this thread. Do yourself a favor and ignore the obvious bad advice at skirting the law. For someone to call out the license guru as incorrect, as well as several others is just plain wrong. The laws are pretty clear as to the $500 limit being a project's value including labor and materials. The labor laws are also pretty clear as to being hired on an hourly basis, you would then be an employee with all the labor/tax burdens that go with it. The only legal way you could work an hourly T&M, or even just an hourly time job that exceeds $500 including any materials the HO buys, would be to possess a contractor's license.
Good luck to you.....I'm done here as I don't do internet arguments with anyone that would otherwise just continue to spout misinformation.
I am telling that the law allows handymen, professionals in all trades, gardeners, and tradesmen to perform jobs up to $500 without a license when the materials and labor for the project do not exceed $500. The law does not state that the unlicensed contractor has to ask the owner the price of the total project and this would be ludicrous to even think that this is true.

I am not telling anyone to skirt the law. I am telling you what the law is and we will settle this on Monday when I contact the license board and my attorney.

I can't believe you or anyone else thinks that if a homeowner buys a water heater at Home Depot for $489 an unlicensed contractor can install the water heater for a maximum amount of $11 because the entire project would exceed $500.

The following image from the California law book states that he cannot contract for jobs for more than $500 including labor and materials. HIS CONTRACT! His contract cannot be for more than $500. It does not say he cannot work on a job where the entire project costs more than $500.

The book does have a page that explains that an unlicensed contractor cannot try to skirt the law by working on a large project and purposely breaking the project into smaller contracts to skirt the law, but this is an entirely separate scenario where a contractor would try to get around the law. Otherwise, if you are not skirting the law and you are not purposely breaking the job into smaller jobs then the previous paragraph holds true.

You have to know whether or not a person is purposely skating the law. I own several rental properties. I can hire an unlicensed contractor to install a garbage disposer at my property at 8 a.m. for $340. At 10 a.m. I can call him and tell him I need a water heater installed in another unit and I can pay him $300. At 4 p.m. another tenant calls and I can pay him $500 to change out a wall furnace. Every job was given at a separate time. Every job is a separate contract. We did not purposely skate the law because we did not purposely schedule the jobs to skirt the law.

Suppose, an unlicensed contractor does business with a real estate management company that owns 1,000 apartment units. It is very possible for that management company to ask an unlicensed contractor to do several jobs in one day that are less than $500 and there is no law that is going to stop neither the management company nor the unlicensed contractor and no law is going to tell the unlicensed contractor that he has to ask the management company the overall price of other projects in an apartment building.

Suppose, the unlicensed contractor is asked to replace a water heater in an apartment where other contractors are painting. He does not have the ask the painters how much they are charging to determine whether or not he can work in the apartment.

That would be crazy! What some people are trying to imply is there are some secret laws that state that you have to wait an unknown period of time between contracts, and you cannot work on the same property some secret period of time, and you have to ask the consumer how much they are paying for the project before you can enter into an agreement. That is crazy!

So, you keep doing as many jobs as you want for $500, or less as long as you are not purposely breaking a large job into smaller jobs and you do not have to ask the consumer how much he paid for the materials you install because those materials are not a part of 'YOUR CONTRACT'. If an unlicensed contractor installs an owner's furnace, or pavers, or a door for a contract amount of $500 he is not violating any law.

My mother is 85 years old and she purchased some pavers for about $500. She hired an unlicensed contractor to install the pavers and he charged her $400 for the labor. This labor charge is a contract agreement whether or not it is in writing. The entire cost of the project was $900. The unlicensed contractor did not violate any law because 'HIS CONTRACT' was for only $400. The next day, my mother loved the pavers in her garden so much she wanted the contractor to make a circle with pavers. Again she paid about $500 for the pavers and $400 for the labor. This was another contract agreement for $400 and no law was broken.
 

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Discussion Starter #33
Final question

So I will try to get licensed, just to be safe and all. But my concern is about proving my experience. Does anyone know if my 4 yrs experience can be working for an unlicensed landscaper? Would this put my reference at risk?
 

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After all the work I put in?

So I will try to get licensed, just to be safe and all. But my concern is about proving my experience. Does anyone know if my 4 yrs experience can be working for an unlicensed landscaper? Would this put my reference at risk?
After all the work I put in you want to get a license? By the time you file your application, take your tests, and get your finger printed it can take 4 month to a year. I've seen finger prints take up to 6 months. So, you still need some income until then.
 

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jwatts, if you have pay stubs and/or tax returns to prove the 4 yrs it should be sufficient to prove your experience, if at a journeyman level. License Guru, who is The Best for accurate information in regards to the CSLB mentioned earlier in this thread that the CSLB has stated that they will not prosecute against unlicensed activity in regards to proving experience in applying for a license.
You may want to post directly to him for further information. http://www.contractortalk.com/f63/california-licensing-32617/
Yes, you can expect it to take some time. Use that time for earning of course, as well as studying up more on your trade if need be and definitely for the business law section of the test.
Good luck to you.
 

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Here are the current processing times at the cslb. Fingerprints can get thru the system in as little as a week if done digitally in CA.

Original Applications Unit Date Being Worked On
Exam Applications 08/30/2013
Scheduling Examinations for 2nd Week of oct
Request for Re-Exam 09/12/2013
Waiver Applications 08/22/2013
 

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pcplumber said:
I am telling that the law allows handymen, professionals in all trades, gardeners, and tradesmen to perform jobs up to $500 without a license when the materials and labor for the project do not exceed $500. The law does not state that the unlicensed contractor has to ask the owner the price of the total project and this would be ludicrous to even think that this is true. I am not telling anyone to skirt the law. I am telling you what the law is and we will settle this on Monday when I contact the license board and my attorney. I can't believe you or anyone else thinks that if a homeowner buys a water heater at Home Depot for $489 an unlicensed contractor can install the water heater for a maximum amount of $11 because the entire project would exceed $500. The following image from the California law book states that he cannot contract for jobs for more than $500 including labor and materials. HIS CONTRACT! His contract cannot be for more than $500. It does not say he cannot work on a job where the entire project costs more than $500. The book does have a page that explains that an unlicensed contractor cannot try to skirt the law by working on a large project and purposely breaking the project into smaller contracts to skirt the law, but this is an entirely separate scenario where a contractor would try to get around the law. Otherwise, if you are not skirting the law and you are not purposely breaking the job into smaller jobs then the previous paragraph holds true. You have to know whether or not a person is purposely skating the law. I own several rental properties. I can hire an unlicensed contractor to install a garbage disposer at my property at 8 a.m. for $340. At 10 a.m. I can call him and tell him I need a water heater installed in another unit and I can pay him $300. At 4 p.m. another tenant calls and I can pay him $500 to change out a wall furnace. Every job was given at a separate time. Every job is a separate contract. We did not purposely skate the law because we did not purposely schedule the jobs to skirt the law. Suppose, an unlicensed contractor does business with a real estate management company that owns 1,000 apartment units. It is very possible for that management company to ask an unlicensed contractor to do several jobs in one day that are less than $500 and there is no law that is going to stop neither the management company nor the unlicensed contractor and no law is going to tell the unlicensed contractor that he has to ask the management company the overall price of other projects in an apartment building. Suppose, the unlicensed contractor is asked to replace a water heater in an apartment where other contractors are painting. He does not have the ask the painters how much they are charging to determine whether or not he can work in the apartment. That would be crazy! What some people are trying to imply is there are some secret laws that state that you have to wait an unknown period of time between contracts, and you cannot work on the same property some secret period of time, and you have to ask the consumer how much they are paying for the project before you can enter into an agreement. That is crazy! So, you keep doing as many jobs as you want for $500, or less as long as you are not purposely breaking a large job into smaller jobs and you do not have to ask the consumer how much he paid for the materials you install because those materials are not a part of 'YOUR CONTRACT'. If an unlicensed contractor installs an owner's furnace, or pavers, or a door for a contract amount of $500 he is not violating any law. My mother is 85 years old and she purchased some pavers for about $500. She hired an unlicensed contractor to install the pavers and he charged her $400 for the labor. This labor charge is a contract agreement whether or not it is in writing. The entire cost of the project was $900. The unlicensed contractor did not violate any law because 'HIS CONTRACT' was for only $400. The next day, my mother loved the pavers in her garden so much she wanted the contractor to make a circle with pavers. Again she paid about $500 for the pavers and $400 for the labor. This was another contract agreement for $400 and no law was broken.
This is just not true. The total cost of the job cost 900.00 so he would need to be licensed. It says in plain English the job can't be broken up into materials and labor separately. Period. Can't be broken up into two separate jobs. It can't be broken up at all. What's so hard to understand about this? Doesn't matter what is in his contract. It's about the whole PROJECT. project being the key word here. Here's the excerpt: Anyone who contracts for or bids on a job that totals $500 or more (labor and materials) must hold a contractor's license from the CSLB. There are exceptions, including working as an employee of a licensed contractor or taking jobs that are valued at less than $500.

You can't write a contract with wording that changes the cost of the job. Just because your contract is for labor, the cost of the job includes material, rather its in your contract or not.
 

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I'm finding that a lot of guys who are applying for licenses using "self employed" experience are not using contracts. The law doesn't require that a "handyman" have a contract. So I'm curious, how many unlicensed people actually use contracts for jobs that are under $500?
 

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Discussion Starter #39
After all the work I put in you want to get a license? By the time you file your application, take your tests, and get your finger printed it can take 4 month to a year. I've seen finger prints take up to 6 months. So, you still need some income until then.
Thanks Pcp.. I guess working unlicensed has worked for you? Tell me what are the pitfalls or cons of working licensed. I think you've mentioned that you can end up paying more fees that way? How so?
 

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Discussion Starter #40
Also, if I want a homeowner to verify my landscaping exp., do I say I just did maintenance (legal unlicensed) or installations, which are illegal unlicensed but probably necessary to be considered journeyman work, since landscaping, not landscape maintenance, is the license I'm applying for.
 
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