CSLB Owner Builder Experience

Let’s talk about CSLB owner builder experience for a moment.

CSLB Owner Builder Experience

Since the CSLB has once again become the Soup Nazi’s (Seinfeld reference) of State licensing, many people are asking if their owner builder experience is enough to get them to the B General Building exam room.

The answer is a big fat maybe.  The problem is that owner builder experience is also heavily scrutinized. They will require permits for each project to verify the framing component.  If you did not pull permits, it is very likely they will not give you any credit for that experience.

They’ll also require that you submit a certification of work experience form (part of the license application) for each project, and an Owner-Builder B General Building Construction Project Experience form for each project.  Click here to view the form.

But wait, there’s more…

They will look at how much of the work you performed yourself and how much of the work was done by other contractors, sub-contractors, and laborers.

But that’s not all…

They’ll also determine (using some secret imaginary formula) how long it would have taken a licensed contractor to perform the same work.  Here are the unknown factors to this secret formula: 1) how long has the imaginary contractor been building houses, 2) does he use imaginary laborers to perform the work, 3) and if so, how many imaginary laborers is he using?  No one knows, which makes their formula and resulting determination sketchy at best!

Many owner builders do most of the work by themselves and bring in contractors to perform, let’s say, pouring the foundation, or installing an electrical panel, or connecting the city power to the house, but the cslb has been known to heavily discount, if not deny it all together, a persons experience because of this.  Seem fair? Of course not.  The cslb doesn’t do fair.  They do, well, basically, whatever the hell they want.

The fine print…

So how many owner builder projects must have you completed in order to qualify for the ever increasingly elusive B General Building contractors license exam??  The cslb has publicly stated that they want to see at least four (4) owner builder projects completed per year for a four (4) year period. That’s 16 owner builder houses in four years.

Is this possible?  Yes, but only for the serious house flipper.  And not for the person who buys a house, lives it in while flipping it during his spare time, then sells it and starts anew with another house.

So there you have it, the cslb owner builder experience nightmare in a nut shell.

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Contractors License Exam Study Materials

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How to get a California Contractors License Part 2

In this series of posts, I’ll tell you how to get a California Contractors License. This is part 2.

contractors licensing faqs_2

6) HOW DO I PROVE MY WORK EXPERIENCE?

You ask someone in the building trades who has direct knowledge of your work to sign a “work cert” (Certification of Work Experience). You do not need a work cert for each and every job. One person may sign for all four years of required experience. The best way, according to the Contractors State License Board, is to use employed experience and to provide pay stubs proving that experience.

7) CAN I QUALIFY WITH “SELF-EMPLOYED” EXPERIENCE?

Yes! But be prepared to show proof of your experience. The CSLB is reviewing/investigating more and more applications, especially the 8 “critical classifications.”

8) CAN I USE OWNER/BUILDER EXPERIENCE?

Yes, but I recommend that you don’t.  O/B experience is reviewed separately to evaluate the amount of experience time you will be granted. On average, the time you are granted is at least ¾ of what you submitted.

9) WHAT HAPPENS IF MY APPLICATION IS NOT APPROVED?

The application will be returned with a letter asking you to supply additional information or make corrections. You will have 90 days to comply with the letter.

10) IS THERE AN EXAMINATION REQUIREMENT?

Yes. The qualifying person must pass the Law & Business and Trade exams, unless he or she meets the requirements for a waiver of either one or both exams. If you’ve taken and passed an exam within the last five years, you do not need to re-test. If you are applying for reciprocity, you’ll only have to take the law and business exam.

Stay tuned for How to get a California Contractors License Part 3.

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