[Q&A] Being a Handyman in California, License, Insurance, Etc.

This question comes from Daniel in California.

Question:

My top three questions right now would be:

1) I don’t have any contractors licensing; i’m interested in getting one, but i’m not entirely sure what to get. I’m looking into with my state’s website (CSLB, California).

2) I feel silly putting ads on Craigslist; like it’s cheap or something. I’d like to hear your thoughts about ads on Craigslist, and other free/inexpensive advertising.

3) I’d like to hear your thoughts on being a handyman in California, concerning the laws, insurance, bonding, and related topics.

-Daniel

Answer:

Hi Daniel,

Luckily I can answer these questions because I’m also in California and I’m familiar with the laws here.

1. You’ll want to go with a General Contractors License. Otherwise your only other option is to get a license for a specific trade and that doesn’t really make sense for a handyman business.

2. Do you need the business? If so, then I wouldn’t worry about how cheap it looks. You can use it temporarily if you want. I don’t advertise on Craigslist anymore but that’s what got me started. Check out this link for more on Craigslist advertising.

3. This is a very broad question. You can’t legally do work over $500 without a contractors license in California. You’ll wan’t a $1M general liability insurance policy (check out ACHP) and if you get a contractors license then you will need to be bonded as well. You can do well even without getting a contractors license if you want. Stick to smaller jobs (my preference anyway) and there are lots of jobs that are under $500. You can make $500+ per day just doing a few small jobs for a couple different clients.

-Travis

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