The State of California requires that contractors in the building trades be licensed. Individuals and business entities obtain their contractors licenses by demonstrating to the California Contractors State License Board that they have the requisite knowledge, skill, and experience to be licensed. The CSLB issues licenses to those meeting requirements. As a construction attorney of longstanding tenure, I have witnessed the impact of unlicensed building contractors from every point of view. If you are considering hiring an unlicensed contractor, acting as an unlicensed contractor or even working for an unlicensed contractor as an employee, please consider the following perils:
To the Owner Considering Hiring an Unlicensed Contractor:
On the positive side for owners considering hiring an unlicensed contractor, the general rule in California is that an owner can escape the obligation to pay an unlicensed contractor for work performed and materials supplied because unlicensed contractors are prohibited from bringing legal actions against owners for payment. The law even goes so far as to allow the Owner to bring a legal action against the unlicensed Contractor for reimbursement of anything the owner paid to the unlicensed contractor. This is done through a “disgorgement” action (see, Business and Professions Code 7031. See also, the following article: Disgorgement Article). Despite this, there are a great many negative potential consequences to be considered by any owner who might consider hiring an unlicensed contractor. Among them are the following:
- If you are considering not paying your unlicensed contractor because Business and Professions Code 7031 allows it, please consider that unlicensed contractors, who have clearly demonstrated a disinclination to follow legal obligations in the first place, may resort to “less than socially acceptable” means of exacting retribution against those who do not pay them or who demand the return of money paid through a disgorgement action I am sorry to say this. Let us leave it at that.