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Licensed General Contractors: What Can General Contractors Do?

Posted by Bryan Echeverria on Dec 5 2017

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Are you planning a kitchen remodel? Or a bathroom remodel? You’ll need some help getting your project started. But did you know that you don’t always need a general contractor for your project? Yes, it’s true! If your project is small and simple (small and simple means your project does not require a building permit) you won’t need to hire a general contractor. There are so many misconceptions about general contractors on the internet, so we’ve written this article to help you learn what general contractors can do for you and your home remodel project. You’ll also learn when you actually need a general contractor, how to find a reputable general contractor near you, and how to check if your contractor is licensed in California. These tips will help you find a trustworthy and reputable general contractor near you.

My name is Alex Rodriguez; I am a licensed general contractor and owner of Bay Cities Construction. My team and I wrote this article to help homeowners searching for a general contractor online, because we know how tough that can be. You’ll have no problem finding a contractor online, but we want to help you find a great general contractor online for your home remodeling project. For the past 10 years our team has transformed hundreds of homes across the South Bay Region of Los Angeles. As a California Licensed General Contractor, we have the experience and expertise to help you with your home remodeling project. This blog article is meant to help you learn about home remodeling, so you can be prepared for your next remodeling project. Finding a good general contractor near you can be tough, you should be able to trust them, so you know you aren’t taking advantage of.

Handyman or General Contractor?

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The term “contractor” has become synonymous with handyman, but a general contractor is drastically different. General Contractors are licensed and bonded by the state, this is required by law. Handymen can also be bonded, but this is not required. General Contractors need to be licensed and bonded because they can build structures, and add to structures. This is a requirement for obtaining a building permit in your city. So if you want to add a new bedroom to your home, or add another bathroom, you’ll need a general contractor for your home remodel project. It all depends on the scope and size of your project. A handyman, or remodeler, can work on small projects that are not complex and do not require any building permits. A typical handyman or home remodeler will install flooring, and install cabinets; but will not work on moving plumbing lines, any type of electrical work, and will not move any walls because these projects require a building permit from the city. Only a licensed general contractor can build large projects where building permits are required. Cities require building permits to ensure the integrity of the building, and the safety of the residents. You won’t want an untrained and unlicensed electrician working on your home, inferior work can be dangerous.

Do I Need a General Contractor?

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As mentioned prior, you don’t always need a general contractor. Small home remodeling projects like cabinet installation can be done by a handyman, or you can do it yourself if you really want to save some cash. But we only recommend this if you know what you are doing. You really don’t want to cause any damage that is expensive to repair, so avoid doing any type of plumbing or electrical work. You’ll want to leave this to a trained professional. As a rule of thumb, any time you are adding square footage or are moving any walls, you’ll need a general contractor. Why? As mentioned prior, you need permission from the city to change the structure. Only licensed general contractors can perform this type of work, building inspectors will not approve any work unless it is performed by a licensed general contractor. This means that if you want to remodel your entire kitchen by removing a wall to create an open floor plan you will need a licensed general contractor. If you ever encounter a handyman that says he can build you larger bathroom without any building permits … run in the other direction. You’ll need a licensed general contractor you can trust for your next home remodel project.

What Can General Contractors Do?

Licensed general contractors can perform a wide variety of work. It can be earthmoving, plumbing, electrical, foundations, framing, or roofing work. But general contractors cannot always work on everything. In the State of California there are three distinct classes of general contractor. General Contractor Type A can perform large projects that require engineering knowledge. These contractors build skyscrapers, dams, bridges, stadiums, parking structures, and other large structures.

General Contractor Type B can perform general construction and building projects of both commercial and residential dwellings that are meant for occupancy. This means that a general contractor can build your home from the ground up. These contractors can lay foundation, carpentry, and framing to build homes. These contractors build entire homes, build major home remodels, and can build home additions.

General Contractor Type C have specialized roles. This includes contractors that specialize in concrete, fireproofing, HVAC, elevators, asbestos removal, and electricians.

How Do I Know If a Contractor is Licensed?

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(image courtesy of wikiHow)

In the State of California general contractors are regulated by the Contractors State License Board (known as CSLB). In order for general contractors to receive their license they take an examination administered by the CSLB. Every two years general contractors are required to renew their licenses and certifications. Reputable contractors will include their license number in signage and business cards, and if you are ever in doubt you can use the CSLB website. The CSLB discloses license information on their website to protect consumers against any risk that they might assume during their construction project. You can click here to access the CSLB license lookup page. If a contractor refuses to disclose their contractor license number you should treat it as red flag. Due diligence is important, as a homeowner, you want to protect yourself against any contractors that will do subpar and potentially dangerous work.

How Do I Find a General Contractor Near Me?

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(image courtesy of Google)

Finding a trustworthy and reliable licensed general contractor in Los Angeles can be tough because there are a lot of contractors in the area. Most homeowners search for a contractor by searching the internet or asking their friends if they know any good contractors. The internet can be a good tool to view ratings and reviews from customers, but you might still encounter a contractor that has somewhat good ratings but completes the work slowly and over budget. There are several horror stories about contractors that complete remodels months after they started because they took on another project.


We’ve tried to make finding a contractor easier for you by making a Top 5 list of the best remodelers in the South Bay, Los Angeles, and the San Fernando Valley. We never shy away from a challenge even if that means giving you a list of our competitors. We have outlined and organized each company’s information in a way that is easy to read because you should know what other licensed general contractors work in your area. We also looked for social proof (Houzz and Yelp Reviews) on various websites. 

You can click below to read these Top 5 remodelers list. 

We also have lists for the Top 5 Bathroom Remodelers, Kitchen Remodelers, and Home Addition Remodelers in your area. You can access them by clicking HERE.

This may be the first time you have seen a general contractor show you his competitors because, but make no mistake we are deeply committed to earning your business! We know you have several options when considering a contractor, and after completing 100’s of home remodel projects we are one of the top-tier Licensed General Contractors in the area. Most homeowners shop for construction estimates but they ignore the human element behind the company. Make sure to interview your potential contractor; don’t rely on estimates alone because 98% of all initial-estimates do not reflect the actual cost of the project.

We wrote this article to help homeowners like you find the best licensed general contractor for your home remodel project. Hopefully this article has helped you learn what the difference between a handyman and general contractor is, what a general contractor can do, when you actually need a contractor, and how to find a general contractor near you. Let us know if you liked this article by posting a comment below. Make sure to let us know what other topics you would like to see on our blog.

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