Subcontractors: Who They Are

Subcontractors work for builders, remodelers and ultimately take care of the many jobs that go into building, enhancing or repairing a house. Subcontractors aren't well known except when homeowners call them for critical repairs like roofing or tuning up a heating system.

When you build a house, there are generally more than 25 subcontractors or specialty contractors involved. So if you are thinking as acting as your own general contractor, you may want to think again, there is a lot of co-ordination required.

Subcontractors and General Contractors

A general contractor hires a subcontractor to perform a specific task for the completion of a larger project. When the subcontractor's job is done, they are paid by the general contractor, but the general contractor may not paid until later - when there is a milestone completed, per the terms and conditions specified in the customer contract.

The subcontractors allow general contractors to deliver a high quality service without having to maintain the required skills within their own organization. This helps reduce costs and alleviate risk. The subcontractors continually develop their skills through different types of jobs and, depending on the state, many contractors must be licensed.

Subcontractor Licensing in California

The California Department of Consumer Affairs maintains a list of all required subcontractor licenses. Some of these licensing requirements (like landscaping) may surprise you because these contractors typically don't work inside a home. Realize that other contractors listed have all the skills and specialties, whether they work on residential homes or commercial buildings.

As homeowners are unlikely to hire most of these subcontractors, we've highlighted the subcontractors you want to be know about, but be aware that your state may have differing requirements. It's important to review this information periodically as licensing requirements are changed, updated or removed.
• C-2 - Insulation and Acoustical Contractor

• C-4 - Boiler, Hot Water Heating and Steam Fitting Contractor

• C-5 - Framing and Rough Carpentry Contractor

• C-6 - Cabinet, Millwork and Finish Carpentry Contractor - might be hired by a homeowner to replace kitchen cabinets.

• C-7 - Low Voltage Systems Contractor

• C-8 - Concrete Contractor - may be the best person for a homeowner to hire when they have extensive problems with a foundation.

• C-9 - Drywall Contractor

• C10 - Electrical Contractor

• C11 - Elevator Contractor

• C12 - Earthwork and Paving Contractors

• C13 - Fencing Contractor - or company are geared to installing a new fence with the equipment and crews to get the job done

• C14 - Metal Roofing Contractor [repealed]

• C15 - Flooring and Floor Covering Contractors

• C16 - Fire Protection Contractor

• C17 - Glazing Contractor - installs windows, sliding patio doors and more, although a handyman might do minor repairs.

• C20 - Warm-Air Heating, Ventilating and Air-Conditioning Contractor - is most often the company that delivers your heating fuel
unless you're using natural gas. They offer service contracts to cover emergency repairs plus an annual service call to tune-up your system.

• C21 - Building Moving/Demolition Contractor

• C23 - Ornamental Metal Contractor

• C26 - Lathing Contractor [repealed]

• C27 - Landscaping Contractor - is the licensing your landscaper will need to create or maintain the landscaping surrounding your

• C28 - Lock and Security Equipment Contractor

• C29 - Masonry Contractor

• C31 - Construction Zone Traffic Control Contractor

• C32 - Parking and Highway Improvement Contractor

• C33 - Painting and Decorating Contractor - for homeowners wanting a professional paint job.

• C34 - Pipeline Contractor

• C35 - Lathing and Plastering Contractor

• C36 - Plumbing Contractor - is one of the key skills every homeowner needs, so find your plumber before you need them for an emergency.

• C38 - Refrigeration Contractor

• C39 - Roofing Contractor - is who homeowners find when their roof needs to be replaced.

• C42 - Sanitation System Contractor

• C43 - Sheet Metal Contractor

• C45 - Sign Contractor

• C46 - Solar Contractor - provide homeowners with a variety of solar systems from panels on the roof to the systems that convert the energy captured to electricity.

• C47 - General Manufactured Housing Contractor

• C50 - Reinforcing Steel Contractor

• C51 - Structural Steel Contractor

• C53 - Swimming Pool Contractor - is who you'll want to contact when installing a pool or spa.

• C54 - Ceramic and Mosaic Tile Contractor - means there's licensing required in California for home professionals installing tile.

• C55 - Water Conditioning Contractor

• C57 - Water Well Drilling Contractor

• C60 - Welding Contractor

• C61 - Limited Specialty

• ASB - Asbestos Certification

• HAZ - Hazardous Substance Removal Certification

• HIC - Home Improvement Certification [repealed]

Tina Gleisner, founder of the Association of Women Home Owners connects homeowners with concepts, terminology and advice to build homes that support today's lifestyles. Through the library and directory at, you can LEARN more about how to maintain and repair your home and more.


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