Real Estate

Homeowner 101: Which license classification should you hire?

As with most licenses, there are different classifications just like our driver’s license. We all understand the reason why we need a different classification for driving certain vehicles; it stands the same with working on your home.

In the construction industry, we have three main classifications that contractors are able to contract in for their particular trade or field, and I will break them down as stated by the Contractors State License Board.

Class A General Engineering Contractor

“The principal business is in connection with fixed works requiring specialized engineering knowledge and skill.”

A homeowner will not use a contractor with this classification for anything at their home. This classification covers large projects such as parks, airports, harbors, shipyards, underground works with pipelines and earth moving projects.

Class B General Building Contractor

“The principle business is in connection with any structure built, being built, or to be built, requiring in its construction the use of at least two unrelated building trades or crafts.”

This is what I am; a licensed B general contractor. Class B contractors will see your project through, from start to finish. We can do anything from building you a new home, to a kitchen remodel or just installing a window. The phrase that speaks of requiring at least two unrelated building trades involved in the project other than framing or carpentry means the homeowners can directly contract with specialty contractors and save money by not having to go through a B license contractor. For instance, if you just have a project where you want to add a light to a room, you would contact a C10 electrical contractor. Which now brings me to the last classification.

Class C Specialty Contractor

“There are 41 separate C license classifications for contractors whose construction work requires special skill and whose principal contracting business involves the use of specialized building trades or crafts.”

I can’t live without these contractors in my business. They are the ones I need who have the specialty trades: my tile guy, my electrician, my plumber, my granite fabricator — all my subcontractors who help me complete a project. This class specializes in a certain field and can only work in that field. They are not licensed to remodel a bathroom or kitchen.

So with the knowledge of the different classifications, the homeowner can make a decision on who to hire based on the scope of work they have. A general B licensed contractor is a huge part of any build or remodel. If you have a few lights to replace and there is no structural change, a homeowner can hire a licensed electrician. The electrician knows that he is not licensed to do any structural change and needs to refer a Class B contractor to the homeowner.

There are completely different tests and qualifications for each contractor’s license. B contractors needs to be well-versed in every aspect of the job at hand, including what his plumber, electrician or even tile contractor knows. The class C contractor does not. So homeowners need to understand that the license C general contractor they hired to retile their bathroom floor, by law, is not allowed to remodel a bathroom; he can be fined for it. These laws by the Contractors State License Board are there to protect the homeowner.

Jeff Nilluka is a licensed contractor No. 875781 and the owner of Cambrian Construction in the El Dorado County. He and his wife Jenelle can be reached by their website at or 916-458-1771.

Special to the Democrat

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