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Getting a General Contractor's License. Any other GC's from California here?

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Forum topic by barringerfurniture posted 04-11-2014 12:59 AM 1107 views 0 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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barringerfurniture

223 posts in 1176 days


04-11-2014 12:59 AM

Topic tags/keywords: contractor license business

I posted this before and then deleted it because I was afraid of opening up another big, controversial can of worms about business like I did last time.

Anyway, I’m in the early stages of applying for a California State General Contractor’s (B) License. Just got signatures from a couple previous employers and currently completing the application. Thinking of turning my little business, Barringer Woodworks, into a full-service general contractor specializing in all interior and exterior woodwork.

I know there are specialty license classifications for finish carpentry and millwork as well as framing (I plan on doing a lot of decks, custom gates, arbors, etc.) but all my working experience is with GC’s and my experience is diverse, so that’s where I’m starting.

Any other woodworkers here working professionally as a GC or under a specialty license of some sort?

So far my experience with the Contractor’s State License Board has not been fun. Always unhelpful and unfriendly on the phone.

-- Scott Barringer, Sacramento, CA barringerfinefurniture.com


10 replies so far

View Jim Finn's profile

Jim Finn

2412 posts in 2386 days


#1 posted 04-11-2014 02:25 AM

Yes California is a tough place to start a contracting company. I left there in 2001. At that time I was building decks and fences and they required no permit so I never did get a contractors license. Not a lot of building going on there right now, I understand.

-- "You may have your PHD but I have my GED and my DD 214"

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile

TopamaxSurvivor

17671 posts in 3140 days


#2 posted 04-11-2014 03:51 AM

No experience in CA, but in general, I have learned to document what I have been told and by whom. Too many times I have been sent the wrong direction by a government official or clerk who did not know the correct answer to the question. With more and more things moving to online, it is a lot better.

Just as an example: In 1985 I got my first permit in the city of Seattle. I ask the fellow at the permit desk if I needed a Seattle business license or if my state contractor license covered it. He said my state license was all I need. Fast forward 7 years: A letter from the city of Seattle tells me I am a criminal for working in the city and getting multiple permits over a period of 7 years without a city business license. The King County Police did not do anything about my tools being stolen. Guess I was a lot easier to catch and had much deeper pockets ;-)

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

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barringerfurniture

223 posts in 1176 days


#3 posted 04-11-2014 04:08 PM

Topamax, yeah the CSLB is terrible on the phone at least. Haven’t actually been to the office yet but I will when I take the test. Heard all the staff is behind bullet-proof glass in there because they ENRAGE people daily.

These kinds of agencies definitely side with the consumer from everything I can tell and stories I’ve heard. Won’t help you out at all as far as just general, basic questions but they’ll definitely bust your ass if you don’t play by their book.

California is particularly bad from what an old boss, who used to contract in Indiana, told me. Gotta jump through the hoops though because I’m doing the work anyway, as it is.

-- Scott Barringer, Sacramento, CA barringerfinefurniture.com

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barringerfurniture

223 posts in 1176 days


#4 posted 04-11-2014 04:10 PM

In Sacramento right now, everyone is busy from what I see. I’m busy too, though currently unlicensed. That’s what I’m out to fix. Definitely better off on my own at this point in my life.

-- Scott Barringer, Sacramento, CA barringerfinefurniture.com

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TopamaxSurvivor

17671 posts in 3140 days


#5 posted 04-11-2014 05:33 PM

agencies definitely side with the consumer Lots of laws to protect the consumer for sure. Why are there no viable laws protecting contractors from unscrupulous consumers? I have found most of the unscrupulous to be attorneys and/or other business people.

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View rustfever's profile

rustfever

716 posts in 2774 days


#6 posted 04-11-2014 06:29 PM

Scott, I am a ‘B’ [GC] and a ‘C-8’ [concrete trade] contractor in California [Modesto area] I obtained my first license nearly 40 years ago and had no problems, except I was forced to deal with un-motivated people [and substantially untrained] within the state bureaucracy.
Fast forward to 30 years, and I repeated with my C-8 license.
The state organizations are not easy to maneuver thru, but it is do-able. As someone said, Document, Document, Document. Not just with dealing with CSLB, but with EVERY government agency. The state has multiple levels of agencies, each with their own list of rules, codes and law. Each of these are issued and enforced by different agencies. Many of these laws, code and ordinances overlap. It is therefore impossible to meet every one of these conflicting statutes.
I once was charged of a Federal Labor Code violation. I contacted my attorney who had previously advise me upon the course of action I had taken. He was dumb-founded upon learning of a stricter law/code enforced by the Federal Government. Attorney and I went before federal arbitrator who laughed when we told of the law in which we complying. His comment….Yes, we know, but this federal law is an income generator for the Labor Board so we just lay in wait for those meeting the State Law.
Go Figure.
Be careful, become extremely knowledgeable of all laws and codes, become compliant, and document, document, document.

-- Rustfever, Central California

View Knothead62's profile

Knothead62

2581 posts in 2425 days


#7 posted 04-11-2014 07:42 PM

After reading the previous posts, are you still sure you want to be a GC? As Mickey Mouse as our locale is, I wouldn’t tackle it. Several GC’s have quit since the economy went down the crapper.
Just for laughs, a friend decided to build a small house/cabin in a rural community. He had the foundation down a, framed in, in the dry and the utilities were told not to hook him up. Seems His honor, the Mayor, dictates what goes on in town. My friend had given up for now as there is no building code in writing- just what the mayor says, depending on his mood for the day.

View barringerfurniture's profile

barringerfurniture

223 posts in 1176 days


#8 posted 04-11-2014 09:02 PM

Knothead, yeah. It’s not so much a matter of wanting to be a GC. More a matter of having to. I’ve done quite a bit of work on my own between employers – some of it small enough to not need a license but most of it big enough to be a risk without one.

Time to get legit and do it the right way.

-- Scott Barringer, Sacramento, CA barringerfinefurniture.com

View AnonymousRequest's profile

AnonymousRequest

861 posts in 1013 days


#9 posted 04-12-2014 01:33 AM

Always document everything, pictures of everything, from beginning to end. Paper trail, paper trail, paper trail.

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TopamaxSurvivor

17671 posts in 3140 days


#10 posted 04-12-2014 03:59 AM

Great thing about cell phones is the call record ;-) I download my call record every few months as they only keep it on line for a year or so. Any time you need to tell some one when you called and told time or they called you, you can give them the exact time of day and duration of the call.

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

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