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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How to get a California Contractors License Part 1

In this series of posts, I’ll tell you how to get a California contractors license.

Let’s begin with the Licensing Process:

1) Who must be licensed:

All businesses or individuals who construct or alter any building, highway, road, parking facility or other structure in CA must be licensed by the CSLB if the total cost including labor and materials is $500 or more.

2) What are the advantages to having a contractor’s license?

There are many reasons to get a contractor’s license:

A. You can do jobs that are over $500.
B. You can take the customer to court if you are not paid. (Without a license, a contract over $500 is considered illegal.)
C. You can legally advertise your construction business.
D. You can pull building permits.
E. You are eligible for special discounts from many material suppliers.
F. You can join builders’ associations that offer job boards, plan rooms, and group insurance.

3) What are the licensing classifications?

The classifications are broken down into 4 categories.

1) A-General Engineering
2) B-General Building
3) C-Specialty classes
4) D-Limited Specialty classes

4) What experience is required?

At least four years of journey level experience is required to qualify for the exam. Credit is given for experience as a journeyman, foreman, supervising employee or contractor or a combination of experience and education.

5) What if I do not have four years work experience?

You may still qualify by substituting apprenticeship or technical training or other education for work experience. For example, you could receive a credit of up to two years for a college degree in business. You don’t necessarily need a college degree. Transcripts showing course work in construction technology, drafting, accounting, etc., can also be substituted for a portion of the four-year requirement.

contractors licensing faqs_1

Part 2 of how to get a California contractors license. coming soon…

 

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CSLB Application Processing

Has the CSLB Application Processing system completely run afoul?

I apologize if I spend too much time discussing this topic, but it really fries my shorts when State agencies abuse their power.

I received an email from an applicant who applied to add a classification to his existing license. You will see in the image below that the CSLB Licensing Unit requested additional documentation. The applicant submitted the documentation, it was accepted, the application was posted and he passed the trade exam. Six days after passing the exam, his application was sent to the infamous Application Investigation Unit, or AIU. Why??

The AIU is going to ask for the same documentation. Doesn’t this suggest that the Licensing Unit is incompetent? They chose to take on the role of experience verification experts. Are they incompetent? Do they not feel that they can perform these duties sufficiently and accurately? They did send the application to the investigation unit after they approved his experience documents, so that suggests the answer is No.

Being a Navy vet, I’m used to following set rules and guidelines. The CSLB needs to create a set of (reasonable) rules and guidelines and follow them. Making up the rules as they go along is wrong for any business, but for a State agency to do it is just flat unacceptable!

CSLB Application Processing

 

 

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CSLB Work Experience Seminar Part 2

CSLB work experience seminar part 2 includes pictures from the meeting and the video taken by the CSLB. I’m in the front row wearing the blue shirt.

I asked at one point if every critical classification applicant would be required to provide additional verification documents. Rick Villucci didn’t exactly answer the question. But I got the feeling that the answer is yes. If you are applying for a critical classification, you WILL be asked to provide that additional experience.

CSLB experience seminar

CSLB Work Experience Seminar Part 1

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CSLB Application Seminar

Yesterday, 12/4/13, I attended a CSLB application seminar where they discussed application procedures.

Many license schools and services were invited to attend, or participate online, a seminar that covered application procedures for all classifications including the eight on the critical classifications list.

Some of the information was basic, and since the room was mostly full of people who prepare license applications for a living, some of it was redundant. But that’s ok, they had to start somewhere.

CSLB Application Seminar

There was one common thread to the conversation; the CSLB would “prefer” to receive applications from people who have experience obtained as an employee of a licensed contractor. In a perfect world, that would spectacular! Everyone’s job would be easier, including the applicant. But we don’t live in a perfect world, and therefore, there are plenty of applicants who have gained their experience as “self-employed.” Another tidbit of info that was given was that a handyman is not a journeyman. While that may be true by definition, the CSLB does accept self-employed experience. And if that self-employed experience was obtained by following the law and only doing work that was under the $500 limit for labor and materials, then how could a handyman obtain the necessary experience to allow him/her to obtain a license? So, it seems, that even though they will accept self-employed experience, as allowed by law, they’d “prefer” not to. [Read more…]

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How to fill out the CSLB Work Experience Form

How to fill out the CSLB Work Experience Form. The first step toward receiving a California Contractors License.

2013 has been full of changes when it comes to the CSLB License Application. It used to be the experience outline could make or break your application. Now, it’s only a minor player for eight of the 43 license classifications.

Although, a properly formatted CSLB work experience form for all 43 classifications is important, preparing a proper experience outline for the eight critical classifications is just the first step.

How to fill out the cslb work experience form

[Read more…]

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CSLB Application Investigation Unit

What you can expect when you are dealing with the CSLB Application Investigation Unit

I received a call today from one of my readers. He told me that his application was sent to the Application Investigation Unit or AIU. He received the AIU letter just days before his test date. Fortunately, he made the correct choice and took the exams… because he passed! Congratulations on passing the State tests your first time.

Just to refresh you, the application is reviewed by a license technician. At this level, the tech can ask for corrections to the app, or additional experience documentation depending on if the classification is considered to be “critical class.” In the reader’s case, he was asked to send them transcripts of his 5 yr Architectural degree. The License Classification Deputy, which is usually at a minimum (or supposed to be) an Enforcement Representative, or ER1 is the person that makes the determination that his 5 yr degree was worth 3 yrs towards the 4 yr minimum requirement. So his app was posted and test date assigned.

CSLB Application Investigation Unit

Now the Application Investigation Unit steps in. [Read more…]

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Contractor Talk Post

Wow…. here’s a post/question/comment/complaint I received in the ContractorTalk Forum. I’m am so floored by how the CSLB is treating applicants, I’m beside myself. Read on…

Phil – I think you’re right about flagging Asian last names. As I explained to you in my private message, I’m being asked for all kinds of documentation for my Class B. And, I have an Asian last name. Go figure.

They didn’t take my business classes, algebra, advanced math or my CA real estate license and appraisal courses into consideration at all. First I was told that they can’t call my employer out of state, so they want 1099’s and check stubs. Fine. Sent them. The Licensee Deputy approves and then they send me to an Experience analyst. She tells me that the 1099’s are useless, because I, “could have earned the money doing anything”. So why did you ask me to hunt down an old, handicapped prior employer 3,000 miles away to get the darn things?

She tells me that my application shows c6 work and not Class B. She sends me a form asking if I want to withdraw my application. I emailed Andrea S. and asked her since when cantilevering decks, framing additions, siding and roof work is millwork. She said it was millwork and not general building! How ’bout that? She asks me to provide permits and contracts. I explain that as a journeyman employee I’m not required to have either, and that legally my contractor employer isn’t even required to keep those docs for more than 3 years. They then asked for client contacts, which I don’t have as an employee.

She says that I need to go back to the elderly, sick employer 3,000 miles away and get a notarized letter from him outlying my duties. I included hours worked, duties by year for the 10 years through apprenticeship (4yrs) and journeyman level (6 years). What else should he document in the letter?

I do think I’m being targeted. When I explained that I felt that shuffling me from department to department for 10 months now is excessive, and I don’t understand why they ask for documentation that they then tell me they can’t use (like the 1099’s and pay stubs), I’m told that I need permits and the notarized letter from my certifier. Wasn’t his certification enough? No, because he was a foreman and not a contractor. Again, I have no legal reason to have permits as a journeyman. I think they just don’t want to license me – possibly because I’m Asian.

I even included letters from people who can verify that I’ve done extensive work on my own homes. I offered to send in 200 material receipts to verify the work and was told that they weren’t needed. What else can I send in to help with this?

contractor talk post

My reply:

I may actually be speechless!!! Oh wait… no I’m not.

Your experience with the cslb just floors me!! How incompetent can one state agency be? Seriously?!? You give them what they ask for, what they have listed in their ridiculous list of acceptable items, then tell you they won’t accept them. I truly wonder (often) why the patients are running the asylum!

My advice is to contact your State Representative! Show the rep the letter the cslb gave you with the options. Show the rep what you provided, per their list, and show the rep the response you received from the cslb.

It has been pointed out to the Board, directly, that the licensing unit is asking for docs that most applicants aren’t required by law to need or obtain. Yet, they keep asking for them. Then they have the nerve to reject those docs.

I wish I had proof in hand that the cslb is profiling Asian applicants, but they are just smart enough not to have put anything in writing… as far as I’m aware. I was just told that the license techs were verbally told to pull apps with Asian last names. So suggesting to a State Rep that you’re being profiled would most likely be flat out rejected by the cslb. For me… I’d mention it anyway. Let the cslb hear the accusation so they know what they’re doing is out in the public.

Like I said… I was almost speechless.

If you feel you’ve received biased, unfair, ridiculous treatment from the CSLB, let them know about it. Submit this form. CSLB Client Services Complaint Form

via California Licensing – Page 70 – Contractor Licensing – Contractor Talk.

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CSLB Qualifying Experience – Final Part

Conclusion to: CSLB Qualifying Experience – Final Part, I will be discussing the CSLB Qualifying Experience outline and process. Final Part

Below are a set of powerpoint slides that were shown at the recent Contractors State License Board Licensing Committee Meeting held at the CSLB office in Sacramento on October 21, 2013.

Along the way, I’ll add my advice and opinion where necessary. Click on the images to enlarge.

CSLB Qualifying Experience - Final Part

Slides #25-26

These slides are self explanatory. You should refrain from using words like; he, she, I, we, us, or your personal name. The experience should always begin with… Experience includes…. then list your daily trade duties performed in the field. Remember…. do NOT list administrative experience.

CSLB Qualifying Experience - Final Part Slides #27-28Slide #27 gives some stats of applications received, processed, rejected. I think these numbers are way too low and don’t encompass what exactly is taking place.Slide #28 states this application processing procedure ensuring that the applicant has the proper experience. Isn’t that what the test is for? Could anybody just walk in and take the exams without any trade experience? I say, let the exams be the lithmus test!After that the slide states that the application processing procedure benefits the applicant in both cost and time. This one blows me away! How is it benefitting the applicant in cost when the chance of their $300 application filing fee disappears? According to them, it happens to 34.2% of the applications every month. And that number doesn’t include the applications that were withdrawn or denied after it was sent to formal investigation.
CSLB Qualifying Experience - Final Part Slide #29States this process frees up enforcement division resources to pursue the most questionable applications. Again, who is determining what “most questionable” is and what is their criteria? The application that uses “he” or “she” in the experience outline? Then it goes on to state that it takes less time than a formal investigation… let’s see… it’s currently taking “non” formal investigations almost 2 months for the applicant to receive the reject letter, return the docs, and have them reviewed. Looks like a push to me. Either way, you’re going to be waiting 3-4 months before your application is even posted and an exam date issued. From there, you’re waiting another 3-4 weeks before you sit for your exams.

That concludes this series of posts “CSLB Qualifying Experience – Final Part” regarding the Contractors State License Board Licensing Committee meeting and powerpoint slide presentation. The bottom line is… have all of your ducks in a row before you submit your application. And I would recommend that you have me review your application and your work experience history first. Paying me $75 could save you $300 and months of heart ache.

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CSLB Qualifying Experience – Part 3

To continue in this series of posts, I will be discussing the CSLB Qualifying Experience outline and process. Part 3

Below are a set of powerpoint slides that were shown at the recent Contractors State License Board Licensing Committee Meeting held at the CSLB office in Sacramento on October 21, 2013.

Along the way, I’ll add my advice and opinion where necessary. Click on the images to enlarge.

CSLB Qualifying Experience Part 3

Slides # 17-18

These two slides show what forms of experience verification they will accept. It’s my opinion that this information should be made public on the CSLB website. I haven’t found it yet, but if I do, I’ll be sure to post a link in this blog.

CSLB Qualifying Experience Part 3 Slides #19-20

#19 is a continuation of the CSLB qualifying experience verification documents they will accept.

#20 is the lead slide to examples of experience they’ve received. The text “The names have been changed to protect the guilty” is an odd statement. What do they mean by that? Is that supposed to be an attempt at humor? If it is, it’s lost on me.

CSLB Qualifying Experience Part 3 Slides #21-22

“Copy and Paste” There is no rule stated on the application that the experience listed must be different is more than one experience form is completed. If their example was hand written on two forms, verbatim, they couldn’t call it “copy and paste.” So is their issue the fact that the app was filled out in Adobe, copied and pasted to second work experience form? Again, there is nothing in the app directions or Business and Professions Code that states that is a “red flag.”

Of course, if they contact the employer, and he/she gives a different job description, you’re app is in trouble. But “copy and paste” is not a violation.

CSLB Qualifying Experience Part 3 Slides #23-24

Having a fellow employee certify your work shouldn’t be a “red flag.” It is an option on the application. What this slide should have said was…. This applicant is applying for the A-General Engineering classification, therefore, it falls under the new “critical classification” rules we just made up.

Granted, the experience in this example isn’t up to my standards. It does read as though the applicant was more of a geologist, as his employer stated. But the basics of the experience outline is acceptable… in my opinion.

 Ok, there is Part 3 in this series, CSLB Qualifying Experience. Come back to see the final installment.

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