General Contractors Sub Contractors

General Contractors, Subs and Certs

No, Ghost Busters are not currently a classification that requires a contractor’s license. There are a few older classifications like C14 and C26 that have dematerialized and you might still run across sometime. At some point, the Board decided to repeal those classifications and fold them into other specialties.

What has remained the same are the two major categories of contractor classifications – general contractors (designated with an “A” or “B”) who typically have responsibility for the full project and subcontractors or specialty contractors who have a “C” designation and then a number which describes their specialty or what field they qualified in. General contractors typically hire or retain the subs who will all claim that they are the ones that actually do the work.

Besides the general and subs designations, you may see some contractors advertising themselves as having very specialized certifications. For example, ‘ASB’ is a certification award to a contractor who is qualified to safely remove asbestos. Removal of other hazardous substances may require a ‘HAZ’ certification. Just like contractor designations, certifications sometimes are repealed for various reasons. An example of one that had a relatively short life is ‘HIC’ which stood for Home Improvement Certification. It was removed when it was apparent that it was not only a duplication of the same qualifications a general contractor was required to possess, but it added another level and associated costs to the process that was entirely unnecessary.

It may seem obvious as to when you’d need or use each, but let’s be sure by going over a couple of examples. When is it appropriate to use a General Contractor instead of a Specialty Contractor? According to the CSLB, whenever the job requires two or more types of work like framing and electrical. This means that most every kitchen and bathroom remodel (which usually involves plumbing, electrical, carpentry, tile work, etc) will always require a General Contractor to take responsibility for the entire project. The GC may do all the work or subcontract portions of the job to specialty contractors that they have a relationship with.

An exception to that rule might be if you decide to take the role of general and do it yourself including hiring a plumber for the plumbing work, electrician for electrical and so on. In a future Series, we’ll get into the pros and cons of Do-It-Yourself contracting including why most inexperienced do-it-yourselfers end up paying more than they should because they don’t know the Tips and Tricks on how to work the system.

Quiz time: Who do you contact when you want a new air conditioning system?

Answer: a C-20 HVAC contractor (Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning). Who do you call when the new AC system is part of a room addition? Answer – You’ll want a General Contractor who oversees and coordinates each phase of the addition and hires the necessary specialties. He’ll hire the C-20 and take the appropriate responsibility for that decision and the work done.

What if you don’t know a C-20 HVAC Contractor or a General Contractor? Another great segue to our next series, “Finding a Contractor”.

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