One of the most destructive wildfires in California history roared through wine country in October, killing at least 42 people and displacing thousands more when 8,400 structures succumbed to the flames. A few short months later, a rash of Southern California fires fanned by high winds and dry December conditions destroyed more than 1000 structures, spread over 300,000 acres, and caused massive evacuations.
Californians up and down the state are wondering: How can we rebuild after all this?
California Governor Jerry Brown and President Trump have declared a state of emergency for California to help people grapple with the cleanup and rebuilding necessary, but it will take months (if not years) to work through this “new normal” of fire aftermath in California. As with many tragedies, there is a time to look forward; and for contractors and subcontractors in Northern California, whose services are desperately needed in the rebuilding effort, now is one of those critical times.
Contractors in Northern California need to have the three following essentials in order to get to work rebuilding after these massive and devastating fires:
1. A Valid California Contractor License
Any contractor who performs work valued more than $500 must have a license to work in the State of California. Contractors in California, or who have worked in California for several years, know that the process of getting a license is very important legally; licenses protect the contractor, the contractor's workers and the clients.
The Contractors State License Board (CSLB) is California’s licensing authority and has been empowered to issue licenses to contractors in 44 different contracting disciplines or classifications since 1929. In order to become a licensed contractor in the State of California, CSLB requires the following:
- Over the age of 18
- Possess a valid social security number
- Be able to demonstrate proficiency (skills, training and experience) to manage the day-to-day operations of a construction company (includes field supervision). There is an exam for this.
- A contractor bond in the business name of the applicant
- Proof of worker’s compensation insurance (unless you have no employees)
There are also different types of contractor’s licenses in California, so it’s important to find out what special requirements your exam might include. Naturally, general exam requirements include being up to date on all state building codes that apply to your contracting specialty.
To learn more about the licensing requirements that may impact you in California, go to the Contractors State License Board’s website, as it contains all of the most current information and has a wealth of resources that may apply to you.
What Contractors Need to Know to Rebuild California
Contractors up and down California have a big job ahead of them as they rebuild after the devastating fires that struck the state in fall and winter.
2. Contractor Bonds in California
In order to receive your license, you need to have acquired a $15,000 contractor license bond. The bond is in place to protect consumers in the event of construction defects or violations of the license law. It can also assist employees who have wages due, but who have not been paid.
You can get a California license bond in 3 easy steps:
- Complete your online application at
- Get your quote
- Pay for your bond
Your bond will be instantly issued and automatically report to the Contractors State License Board, so you can check this must-have item off your list and get to work.
3. Worker’s Compensation Insurance for Contractors in California
If you have employees, the CSLB also requires contractors to provide proof of current, valid worker’s compensation insurance from an approved liability insurance company, like Aegis.
If you have no employees, you can get an exemption certificate to verify and certify to the CSLB that you have no employees. However, C-39 roofing contractors are still required to carry workers’ compensation insurance regardless of whether or not they have employees or are simply individual contractors.
Workers’ comp coverage not only fulfills your CSLB requirements, it’s also a smart move when it comes to building your business and protecting your employees.
An accident on the job can happen in an instant, no matter how much you emphasize safety in the workplace. Workers compensation coverage provides coverage for your employees’ medical expenses, lost wages, and disability benefits in the event of a work-related accident. And it can even cover legal fees in the event of a lawsuit.
Rebuilding after the California Fires
As the full aftermath and rebuilding needs of Californians become clearer in the coming weeks, contractors need to be ready with all the proper qualifications and be licensed, bonded and insured according to California law—for their own protection, their clients’ protection and their workers’ protection.
There’s a lot of work ahead of us as we #RebuildCalifornia. Are you ready?