General Contractors Vs. Specialty Contractors: Comparing The Two Practitioners


Qualified contractors are issued with licenses by Contractors State License Boards (CSLBs) to practice in various states across the country. In order to qualify for a license, the applicant must be over 18 and he must also be armed with all the necessary skills and field experience required to satisfactorily handle or implement a building and construction project. Some of the most essential skills in this industry relate to project planning, field supervision, technical competence, experience, risk assessment and management, cost managements and many more. Before issuing a practicing license, the CSLB vets the applicant to ascertain his competence. In terms of experience, a licensed contractor is required to have at least one year practical experience and credit for technical training, apprenticeship training, or education. Otherwise, you should have 4 years experience as a journeyman, foreman, supervising employee, subcontractor, or owner-builder. The CLSB defines the kind of projects that require a contractor’s license as all undertakings whose total price (combined labor and material costs) is past a specified minimum ā€” usually $500. These include all projects involving the road construction or modification of any building, pavement, road, parking lot, railroad, or any other structure. A contracting license permits the contractor to practice or contract in various trades or construction fields as a professional. There are two main classifications of CLSB licenses: general contractor and specialty contractor licenses.


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General Contractors


Again there are two main types of general contractor licenses: general engineering contractors and general building contractors.


General Engineering Contractor


Usually classified as a Class “A” license, a general engineering contractor is usually hired to work on fixed works/projects that require specialized engineering qualifications. Class A contractors have specialized knowledge, skills, and experience in various building and construction fields. General engineering contractors cover many different specialties including mechanical, civil, electrical, and many others. They cover a wider range of niches or industries including sea-related projects like shipyards & ports, harbors, docks & wharves etc. Other water engineers are concerned with dams & hydroelectric projects, irrigation, flood control & drainage etc. For dry land infrastructural projects, engineers work on bridges, railroads, highways & roads, tunnels, airports and airways, pipelines & refineries, chemical plants, power plants and other utilities’ plants.


General Building Contractor


General building contractors are also referred to as Class “B” contractors. They are usually associated with the building and/or construction of any project that requires two or more unrelated industry trades or crafts. Contractors may take single trade building projects if they have additional specialty licenses or if they liaise with licensed specialty contractors who have the necessary skills and knowledge. For framing or carpentry projects, contractors are not constrained by any of these licensing rules. You will need a general engineering contractor to handle the specialized issues of your Anderson storm drainage project and a building contractor to do the actual building or construction of the drainage system.


Specialty Contractors


The third major licensing classification in building and construction is the Class ā€œCā€ specialty license. Specialty classifications are categorized by the CSLB according to the special skills required to perform a specific task or project based on the specialized trade or craft involved. Specialty contractors are armed with special skills and lots of experience in the fields or subjects of art, science, and project management. They use their vast skills to ensure proper organization, implementation, execution, construction, completion, and maintenance of building and construction projects, which are all under their classification in accordance with the standards of their trade. They may also hire subcontractors or use their own employees for various specialty tasks. Examples of specialty classifications specialties or trades include plumbing, flooring, roofing, solar, landscaping, refrigeration, welding, fire protection, and air-conditioning etc.