What Can and What Can’t General Building Contractors Do

What Can and What Can’t General Building Contractors Do

I’m often asked: What can and what can’t general building contractors do?

Under California law “B” General Building contractors have specific guidelines to follow when it comes to trades they can perform.

general building contractor

Business and Professions Code section 7057 states that a general building contractor only can take a prime contract that requires two or more unrelated building trades, and that framing and carpentry cannot count as one of the two trades. However, a general contractor may take a prime contract that is only for framing and carpentry, and no separate unrelated trade. If a B licensee takes a subcontract, it, too, must involve two unrelated trades (not including framing and carpentry toward the two) or a B can subcontract to only do the framing and carpentry.

There is no limit to the number of unrelated trades a “B” licensee can perform on a given contract, provided that there are two or more, and that framing and carpentry don’t count as one of the two that must be performed at a minimum.

Two trades that a “B” license holder may not perform as a prime or subcontractor are fire protection and water well drilling. B&P Code §7057 states (full text below) that general building contractors may not do this work unless they qualify for and add these classifications to their license, or unless the general building contractor holds the appropriate license classification or subcontracts with an appropriately licensed specialty contractor to perform the work. The “B” also may subcontract the fire protection or well drilling portions of the project to a qualified licensee.

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B&P Code 7057: General Building Contractor

(a) Except as provided in this section, a general building contractor is a contractor whose principal contracting business is in connection with any structure built, being built, or to be built, for the support, shelter, and enclosure of persons, animals, chattels, or movable property of any kind, requiring in its construction the use of at least two unrelated building trades or crafts, or to do or superintend the whole or any part thereof. This does not include anyone who merely furnishes materials or supplies under Section 7045 without fabricating them into, or consuming them in the performance of, the work of the general building contractor.

(b) A general building contractor may take a prime contract or a subcontract for a framing or carpentry project. However, a general building contractor shall not take a prime contract for any project involving trades other than framing or carpentry unless the prime contract requires at least two unrelated building trades or crafts other than framing or carpentry, or unless the general building contractor holds the appropriate license classification or subcontracts with an appropriately licensed contractor to perform the work. A general building contractor shall not take a subcontract involving trades other than framing or carpentry, unless the subcontract requires at least two unrelated trades or crafts other than framing or carpentry, or unless the general building contractor holds the appropriate license classification. The general building contractor shall not count framing or carpentry in calculating the two unrelated trades necessary in order for the general building contractor to be able to take a prime contract or subcontract for a project involving other trades.

(c) A general building contractor shall not contract for any project that includes a fire protection system as provided for in Section 7026.12 or 7026.13, or the “C-57” Well Drilling classification as provided for in Section 13750.5 of the Water Code, unless the general building contractor holds the appropriate license classification, or subcontracts with the appropriately licensed contractor.

LicenseGuru

I am a Navy vet and former laborer for a B-Gen Bldg contractor, I built mobile homes for many years, I worked at the Contractors State License Board for 5 yrs, and have been operating a contractors license service company since 2005.

16 thoughts on “What Can and What Can’t General Building Contractors Do”

  1. Hello. I’m a GC with a B-license in California and we have a public (government building) roofing project that require us to set up scaffolding. Can I self perform this work? or am I required to hire a scaffolding contract (D-36)?

  2. we hired a general contractor do take care of all permits and construction of the house remodeling. It was a big projects.
    Thank you for the responses. We will contact a lawyer and permit department to get it done right.

  3. Can a general contractor hire an un-licensed sub to perform a panel upgrade and adding a 70A sub-panel to a 100A main panel, if he doesn’t hold a electrical license . It was also an 240V line for steam generator added to the main panel as part of remodeling.

    My understanding so far is that he can do the wiring and installation of fixtures inside the house, but would need a license for the main and sub-panel work. Are my assumption right? We found out through PG&E findings of not-permitted work on the main panel and broken seal.

    1. Sorry for my last sentence.
      We found out through PG&E inspection that the work is not-permitted for the main panel. PG&E was not notified prior work on the weather head and the sub disconnected and replaced cables to the weatherhead with live wires, which would have required to shut down the line. Of course the seal was broken. The project is located in California.

        1. we hired a general contractor do take care of all permits and construction of the house remodeling. It was a big projects.
          Thank you for the responses. We will contact a lawyer and permit department to get it done right.

    1. Yes, as long as it’s part of the overall project. A B contractor could not enter into a single trade contract without having that specific trade classification on their license.

  4. Does anyone know why the “at least two unrelated trades” rule exists? It seems illogical to me, does anyone have background on why a B Contractor can self-perform framing, electrical, and plumbing on a job…but not just framing and plumbing.
    Would appreciate any feedback thank you

        1. Hello,

          The cslb prefers that B experience has been obtained as an employee of a B contractor. If that’s not the case, then you’re submitting self-employed experience and you will be required to submit permits for projects you worked on that included structural framing. If you can’t provide permits the cslb will not give you credit for that experience.

  5. Knowing what a building contractor can and can’t do because of specific guidelines they have to follow is really important to know about. If people are wanting to get more of these services done, they need to make sure that they know what they can do for them. Plus, it is all different from what area it is that you are in too.

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