Good News for DIYers and Owner-Builders

by Joy

California has recently eliminated any ambiguity concerning “construction consultants”—per Assembly Bill No. 2237, they’re now defined as contractors who must adhere to the same requirements that apply to all licensed contractors. In other states, construction consultants market their services to DIYers and owner-builders who have skill gaps and choose not to hire general contractors to manage their home improvement projects. Construction consultants offer a wide range of à la carte support opinions, from planning to project management, but they don’t assume any responsibilities for safety, best practices, code compliance, performance expectations or warranties.

According to the Contractors State License Board (CSLB), this law provides better protection of owner-builders. “AB 2237 is a valuable consumer protection measure and will place project responsibility where it belongs,” says CSLB Registrar Steve Sands. “All too often, people who don’t have a state contractor’s license call themselves construction consultants and encourage property owners to take on home improvement projects as owner-builders. The so-called consultants collect a fee and many times leave the homeowners with all the project responsibilities and liabilities.”

In California, a construction consultant is defined as an individual who, for a fee, helps an owner-builder with the following services in whole or in part:

  • Providing or overseeing a bid for a construction project.
  • Arranging for and setting up work schedules for contractors and subcontractors and maintaining oversight of a construction project. 

If the cost to complete the project is greater than $500, the consultant to an owner-builder must be a licensed contractor. The law (which went into effect on January 1, 2013) states that “anyone who provides or oversees bids for construction, arranges for subcontractor work and schedules, and/or has oversight for a project is, in fact, acting in the capacity of a contractor and must be state-licensed.”