A general engineering contractor in California is qualified to construct a variety of fixed works provided they aren’t primarily intended to house people or animals. They typically perform projects such as digging trenches for utility cables and drainage, building retaining walls and concrete structures, excavation and surface grading. General engineering contractors also prepare sites for construction and demolish existing structures. Any construction or remodeling project in California that will cost more than $500 to complete must be performed by a general engineering contractor. The customers of these contractors have a range of protections under California law, including liability requirements and financial recourse.

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Licensing Requirements

A general engineering contractor must be licensed by the California Contractor State License Board (CSLB). Licensure requires applicants to possess at least four years of relevant work experience and pass a written exam. Applicants must also provide their fingerprints to the CSLB, which will be used to check for criminal records with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the California Department of Justice (DOJ). General engineering contractors must maintain a minimum of $2,500 in operating capital in California.

Financial Recourse

General contractors must also maintain a bond in California. This bond provides customers with financial recourse in the event that the contractor violates license regulations or performs defective work. Customers who believe that either of these events have occurred should file a complaint with the CSLB.

Liability Risks

General contractors in California must carry liability insurance and workers’ compensation insurance. The minimum limit for this insurance is $1 million for up to five employees. Each additional employee increases this minimum requirement by $100,000 until the total value of the insurance reaches $5 million.

Multiple Bids

You should always solicit multiple bids when hiring a general contractor. The CSLB recommends that you obtain at least three bids in writing before making your final selection. You shouldn’t necessarily accept the lowest bid, as this could indicate the contractor isn’t including the same work as the other competitors. An abnormally low bid may also indicate that the contractor has simply made a mistake in calculating the estimate.

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