If your trade requires a contractor license the law in California allows you to work without one if you state that you are “officially unlicensed” on the side of your truck, on your business cards and work orders. A signed work order is a peer to peer contract between you and your client. You can use the fact that you are unlicensed in your advertising:  “officially unlicensed to save you money”.

The work order will have this printed on it.

“Officially not a licensed contractor as provided for in section 7027.2. All services are calculated at a labor rate of $37.50 per man-hour. Estimated time of jobs have been historically reliable, and is this is agreed upon pledge not to exceed estimated time without notice, explanation and authorization. Estimated time includes clean up, travel, etc.”

The law from the California State license board states:

” 37.    Are licensed contractors required to include their license numbers in advertisements?

Any time licensed contractors advertise their services, whether on paper, over the air waves or on the Internet, a license number must appear. This includes but is not limited to letterhead, business cards, any type of directory listing, airwave transmissions, newspaper ads, vehicle lettering, or any form of advertising.

38.    Is it against the law for an unlicensed individual to advertise construction services?

No, as long as the advertisement includes a statement that the individual does not hold a contractor’s license (B&P 7027.2). ”


Contractor licensing is the State’s ways of selling economic rents. The State uses specialized licensing as a way to limit who can work or bid on state projects. State favored contractors who lobby legislators often are awarded higher bid contracts because lower bids from non favored vendors didn’t meet the “criteria”.  It is a part of crony capitalism.

To those who wish to work outside the system this statute offers a loophole to work through. Each State has different contracting  license laws so if you don’t live in California you will need to research the laws in your own state.

Some states limit how big of a job an unlicensed contractor can do. In California it is $600.00. The way around that is to charge by the hour or by the day. Being unlicensed will keep you from working on state funded projects. Some people are leery of hiring an unlicensed contractor so referrals are important.

I have a friend who has operated this way for years and has never had a problem with the California State license board.