Legal Question in Construction Law in California

As a handyman if I go to a customers house who has a list of projects that are unrelated to each other for example they need a fence gate built, a window replaced and a garage door opener installed and the total amount would be over 500.00 ,and if I schedule and get paid for each job on separate days can I supply separate quotes for each in that one visit

Asked on 1/14/18, 9:26 am

3 Answers from Attorneys

Gary Redenbacher Redenbacher & Brown, LLP

If you are licensed this isn’t a problem. You can’t split jobs to get under the dollar limit if you aren’t licensed.

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Answered on 1/14/18, 9:45 am
Timothy McCormick Libris Solutions - Dispute Resolution Services

I disagree with Gary. You are in a gray area of the law. It was not the intention of the $500 limit and the "no splitting up a project" rule to make it so a handyman could only do $500 worth of work for one owner for life, regardless of how disconnected the work is in type and time. What you need to look at is the intention of the law. You are not going to get away with breaking up a fence repair and a gate repair. There is no reason, however, you can't do a gate repair as one project, and then at another time install a new light fixture, for example. I would recommend, however, that you enter into an agreement for each project one at a time, not agreeing to the next one until the prior one is done and paid for. And then make sure the projects truly are unrelated. Use the old rule that if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it's a duck. Make sure it would be clear to any reasonable person that the work is unrelated to other work you have done recently. Make sure there is a clear gap in both time and the nature of the work between projects.

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Answered on 1/14/18, 12:20 pm
Gary Redenbacher Redenbacher & Brown, LLP

Tim is talking about a completely different scenario - different jobs at different times. That is not the issue here.

You are talking about performing a number of tasks at the same time at the same location. The law is clear - an unlicensed contractor may not split jobs i.e., enter into several smaller contracts, to get under the $500 safe harbor for unlicensed contractors.

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Answered on 3/24/18, 12:06 pm

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