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GC/carpenter
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Curious,,,, so in CA no license if all work is legitimately under $500, but what about a business account, insurance etc.. you still need to be set up as a proper business correct? The $500 dollar rule doesn't mean you can be a pirate and work under the table.
You can't do any work if the total job cost more then 500 dollars. In other words if I'm a general on a new home, you can't just do the sprinklers because the sprinkler project was under 500. The whole project which is the building of the home is over 500. It keeps the GC from saying everybody's a sub that's making 500 or less.
 

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GC/carpenter
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Yes you still need a business license for every city you work in. Along with a fictitious name filed with the county, if your using a name besides your real name.
 

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Knucklehead in charge
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in my local a license if required regardless of dollar amount along with the insurance requirements.

The op should just jump on board and join the circus.
 

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GC/carpenter
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in my local a license if required regardless of dollar amount along with the insurance requirements.

The op should just jump on board and join the circus.
This isn't directed at the OP.

Background checks, can be an issue here. I think the biggest killer of licenses is they won't give a license if you owe back child support. It's just stupid. Maybe a guy could pay his bills better if they let him get licensed. They also take your drivers license away. Just dumb.
 

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School Director
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64 Posts
Your Question

I have a great deal of experience with the license law requirements in the state of California. To answer your questions; No, you don't need a contractors license to do design or consulting work unless you plan on bidding on the job and subbing it out yourself.

You DO NOT need a license to do gardening. You only need a license if you are landscaping, in other words, INSTALLING things such as irrigation, plants, shrubs, sod, walkways, etc. Even then only if the job is over $500 including labor and materials. You can even prune trees but only if they are under (I believe) 15 feet. I would verify that but the Board's website is not working properly right now and I am at home so I don't have the State Law book with me. If it is over 15 feet you need a C-61, D-49 license - "Tree Service Contractor".

For the record, the General who stated that all his subs must be licensed because HIS job is over $500 is mistaken. He can sub to unlicensed contractors if THEIR job is under $500.

Hope this helps!
 

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....You only need a license if you are landscaping, in other words, INSTALLING things such as irrigation, plants, shrubs, sod, walkways, etc.....
If you're in the license school business, at least read the regulation, which says "constructs, maintains, repairs, installs, or subcontracts"

A common name for these businesses is something like "Joe's Landscape Maintenance Services". Do I think the CSLB is going to go after Joe? Probably not.
 

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For one, I am surprised someone who is without a license came on here asking about getting on, and, in some ways is looking to get around not getting one. Assuming that one can read, write and has minimal comprehension skills, wouldn't you go to the CSLB site and look up the regulations?

Nonetheless (one of my favorite words), the reality is, at least in CA, regardless of what he does, my personal experience is that unless several clients complain of getting ripped off, the CSLB will not pursue this guy. The cities he works in will not go after him he he doesn't have a business license, nor will the county or state tax agencies go after him either.

My favorite example(if you read my posts) is a consistently unemployed union carpenter that lives below my condo. He has run a unlicensed, uninsured, no-name construction and contracting business out of his condo for over 10 years. He's done 10's of thousands of dollars of business. He is completely illiterate and has a criminal record of violence. I have turned him over to everyone from the local city agencies all the way up to the IRS and state...........guess what, nothing..... No one is interested.

A handyman I used to work with on occasion in the Santa Cruz area, also did several 10's of thousands of dollars of business. At least this guy was good at what he did, and, could read and write. He did remodels, masonry, even asphalt work....again, no license, no insurance, zip. The only thing he apparently got caught on was drug possession (he disappeared suddenly for a year).

So, everyone can state the letter of the law all day long. It's whether it's enforced or not, and the chances of getting caught. From what I have experienced, I would say the ratio of unlicensed illegal contractors to licensed ones is at least 5 to 1.
 

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School Director
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CarpenterSFO-To clarify my point. You quoted "constructs, maintains, repairs, installs, or subcontracts". This is out of context. Requiring a landscape maintenance worker to have a license because he maintains a landscape, which required a license to install, would be like requiring a housekeeper to have a contractors license to clean a house because it required a contractors license to build it. I understand how it could be misinterpreted but gardeners are NOT required to be licensed contractors.
 

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Discussion Starter #34
CarpenterSFO-To clarify my point. You quoted "constructs, maintains, repairs, installs, or subcontracts."
I agree, this is the definition of what a licensed person does, but is misleading. An unlicensed gardener can do unlimited amounts of maintenance. I just heard back from my business mgt class instructor who was on the CA contractors licensing board. He confirms that maintenance is exempt from the $500 limit and may advertise as maintenance with no restrictions!
 

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GC/carpenter
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I have a great deal of experience with the license law requirements in the state of California. To answer your questions; No, you don't need a contractors license to do design or consulting work unless you plan on bidding on the job and subbing it out yourself.

You DO NOT need a license to do gardening. You only need a license if you are landscaping, in other words, INSTALLING things such as irrigation, plants, shrubs, sod, walkways, etc. Even then only if the job is over $500 including labor and materials. You can even prune trees but only if they are under (I believe) 15 feet. I would verify that but the Board's website is not working properly right now and I am at home so I don't have the State Law book with me. If it is over 15 feet you need a C-61, D-49 license - "Tree Service Contractor".

For the record, the General who stated that all his subs must be licensed because HIS job is over $500 is mistaken. He can sub to unlicensed contractors if THEIR job is under $500.

Hope this helps!
Hers an excerpt from the CSLB. It says any project and it can't be broken up into parts to get under that 500 dollars, do I need to find that as well? I can

It is illegal for an unlicensed person to perform contracting work on any project valued at $500 or more in combined labor and material costs. Besides being illegal, unlicensed contractors lack accountability and have a high rate of involvement in construction scams. They also are unfair competition for licensed contractors who operate with bonds, insurance, and other responsible business practices.

It doesn't say only the part of the project you are doing it says any project valued at 500 dollars or more.
 

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Discussion Starter #36
Hers an excerpt from the CSLB. It says any project and it can't be broken up into parts to get under that 500 dollars, do I need to find that as well? I can

It is illegal for an unlicensed person to perform contracting work on any project valued at $500 or more in combined labor and material costs. Besides being illegal, unlicensed contractors lack accountability and have a high rate of involvement in construction scams. They also are unfair competition for licensed contractors who operate with bonds, insurance, and other responsible business practices.

It doesn't say any project you are doing it says any project valued at 500 dollars or more.
Mike, this is in regards to construction and installation, not maintenance.
 

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GC/carpenter
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I also might add the valuation of the project is on every permit. Unless you lie about the valuation and that's a whole other offense.
 

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School Director
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Mike and License Guru. I respect your opinions but I used to teach Contractors License Law. The law is referring to the project value that the sub is bidding on, not the job that the contractor bid on in the first place. I taught Contractors License Law for years. Don't take my word for it, call the Contractors State License Board.
 
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