Can an unlicensed handyman legally do any type of work as long as the work does not exceed $500?
No. In accordance with current California law, an unlicensed handyman may only perform work that is “casual, minor or inconsequential in nature.” Note that the $500 limit includes both labor and materials, unlicensed handymen are required to disclose to consumers that they are not licensed by the State Contractors License Board.
Is it true a contractor’s license is not required if the work to be performed is under $500?
Yes, B&P section 7048 (Small Operations) provides an exemption from licensure for minor work if the aggregate contract price, including labor, materials, etc. is less than $500. This exemption does not apply if the “minor work” is part of a larger project. Example: A homeowner is having a kitchen remodeled at a total cost of $6,000 and decides to sublet the flooring work which is only $300. The person doing the flooring would not be exempt from licensure because the overall cost of the project was over $500. In addition, jobs cannot be broken down into hourly fees in order to sidestep the $500 threshold.
Do you charge by the hour or by the job?
Labor is charged ‘by the hour’ and for larger jobs it is usually more cost effective to have a set price. Written estimates are provided upon request and the cost quoted for labor will not change unless the requirements change.