What Is a Contractor?

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What Is a Contractor?

Great question!  What is a Contractor? A contractor is licensed to perform certain types of construction activities. In California they must be licensed.  They must also be in strict compliance with bonding, workers compensation insurance, and other similar regulations. All require extensive training, testing, certification, and background investigations.  Licensed contractors must meet specific insurance requirements. There are various types of contractors:

  • The General contractor is responsible for the execution, supervision, and overall coordination of a building, renovation, or remodeling project.  Many also perform some or all of the individual construction tasks.
  • A Remodeling contractor is a general contractor who primarily specializes in remodeling and renovation work.
  • Specialty contractors perform specialty tasks such as plumbing, electrical, drywall, painting, etc.  Often referred to as a Subcontractor, they generally work for themselves or with a general and/or remodeling contractor.

What Is a Contractor? DAD's ConstructionRegardless of type or classification, all contractors must be licensed, insured, and bonded.  Many contractors side-step these laws.  Failure to comply will cost contractors large fines, jail, and lose their license.  The California State Contractors License Board (CSLB) has a Statewide Investigative Fraud Team (SWIFT).  Their only job is to capture and apprehend unlicensed contractors and those who do not follow the insurance and contracting laws.

Contractor License Classifications

There are 4 classifications:

  1. General Engineering
  2. General Building
  3. Residential Remodeling Contractor
  4. Specialty

General Engineering Contractor (A-Classification)

This professional is focused on fixed works projects.  These require specialized engineering knowledge and skill.  Projects include irrigation, drainage, water, power, flood control, harbors, dams, hydroelectric projects, and airports. This also includes earth moving projects, excavating, grading, trenching, paving, and surfacing work.

General Building Contractor (B-Classification)

What Is a Contractor? DAD's ConstructionAlso known as a “General” or “GC”.  The principal business is in connection with any structure built, being built, or to be built.  General building contractors may take a prime contract or a subcontract for any two or more unrelated building trades.

General building contractors may take a prime contract for any project involving framing or carpentry.  They can also subcontract with an appropriately licensed Specialty Contractor to perform the work.  Okay, so this is a bit confusing.

So, simplified: A GC can perform the following projects:

  1. Strictly framing and/or carpentry work.
  2. Hire Specialty Contractors (plumbers, electricians, painters, drywallers, etc.) to perform these types of projects.
  3. Perform all the work himself or with any combination of employees and/or Specialty Contractors.

The important point here is that only a licensed General Building Contractor can legally build a house, room addition, or perform interior and exterior framing.  Framing is basically building walls, ceilings, floors, decks, balconies, etc.  This person or company is also the only one who can legally perform a bathroom, kitchen, or full interior remodel.  Finding a great General can be a monumental challenge.  Read What To Look for In a Contractor, How Do I Choose a Contractor and How Do I Select a Contractor.  You might also enjoy reading Best Local Contractor.

Residential Remodeling Contractor (B-2 Classification)

A residential remodeling contractor is a contractor whose principal contracting business is in connection with any project to make improvements to, on, or in an existing residential wood frame structure, and the project requires the use of at least three unrelated building trades or crafts for a single contract.  The major difference between a B and B-2 Classification is that only the B can perform structural work.  Structural work includes moving, altering, and constructing walls.  The other difference is that a B-2 can only perform work when the project involves (or requires) three or more unrelated trades or crafts. 

The residential remodeling contractor also cannot contract to make structural changes to load bearing portions of an existing structure, including, but not limited to, footings, foundations, load bearing walls, partitions, and roof structures.  The B-2 cannot contract to install, replace, substantially alter, or extend electrical, mechanical, or plumbing systems or their component parts.  The B-2 is a watered down version of the B.  Basically, a B-2 can remove and replace like-for-like provided there are no alterations to the existing walls, ceilings, floors, foundations, electrical, plumbing, and mechanical (HVAC) systems.

Specialty Contractor (C-Classification)

Performance requires special skill and whose principal contracting business involves the use of specialized building trades or crafts.  Often referred to as “Subcontractors” or “C-Trades”.  Examples include plumbers, electricians, drywallers, concrete, etc.  Subcontractors cannot perform any other trade that he or she does not hold an active license for.  For example:  A plumber cannot perform electrical work.  In similar fashion, a cabinet maker cannot install countertops.  Specialty trades cannot contract (hire) with other Specialty Contractors to perform unlike work.  Examples include a plumber hiring an electrician or a cabinet maker hiring someone to install the countertop.

There is a complete fully defined listing for all of the license classifications at the Contractors State License Board Licensing Classifications page.

How Can I Receive More Information?

If you would like more information on enjoying the best bathroom, kitchen, and interior remodeling experience in Orange County, call DAD at (949) 380-0177 or at dan@dadsconstruction.com for a free in home consultation.  DAD’s serves all of South Orange County California.  This includes Lake Forest, Mission Viejo, Foothill Ranch, Portola Hills, Ladera Ranch, Irvine, San Clemente, Dana Point, San Juan Capistrano, Rancho Santa Margarita, Coto de Caza, Dove Canyon, Laguna Niguel, Laguna Hills, Newport Beach, and Aliso Viejo).

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Daniel A. Derkum is the owner of DAD’s Construction, a leading South Orange County, California design-and-build remodeling and renovation contractor, https://www.dadsconstruction.com.  © DAD’s Home Services & Construction, Inc.  All Rights Reserved.