Small Contractor Starter Kit

The Small Contractor Starter Kit provides everything you need to help you register your business, obtain a contractor's license, solicit work and open for business - including a printable version of the Small Contractor Guide.

What’s inside

Guides (1)

Guide - Small Contractor guide

The Small Contractor Guide is an overview of what it takes to become a handyman or contractor in San Francisco. Every business is different, but we provide the basic steps – along with tips, tricks and common mistakes to avoid. Explore below or download the Guide for quick reference.

Related Documents (2)

Business Plan Template – US Small Business Administration (SBA)

The US Small Business Administration (SBA) created this Business Plan Template to help you research and write your business plan.

Business Entity Comparison Table – SF Office of Small Business

This table provides an at-a-glance reference to how the most common business entity types — sole proprietorship, general partnership, C corporation, S corporation, and LLC — compare in a number of key characteristics.

Permits (12)

Business Registration Certificate

The basic city business registration required for all businesses who wish to operate in San Francisco.

Sign Permit

Required for most business signs. Includes fabricated and hanging signs, as well as signs that have been painted directly on a building.

Building Permit

Permit required for any additions, alterations, or repairs to a building, and electrical wiring and plumbing installations.

Certified Backflow Assembly Tester Permit to Operate

Required to operate as a backflow prevention tester, testing potential connections between potable water and a source of contamination.

Hot Work Operations Permit, Roofer

Provides a detailed description of "Fire Safety Rules and Practices for Roofing Operations" and includes the Required Statement of Understanding for Hot Work - Roofer Permit Holders.

Hot Work Operations Permit, Welder

SFFD Permit to operate in Hot Work. Must visit the Fire Department to learn more.

Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LP-Gas) Permit, Roofer, Storage, Use

SFFD Permit allowing Roofers to store and use Liquefied Petroleum Gas. Must visit the Fire Department to learn more.

Contractor Parking Permits

This permit is for contractors requesting temporary exceptions to traffic and parking rules and regulations.

Fictitious Business Name

Allows you to use a business name other than your given name, the names of your partners, or the officially registered name of your LLC or corporation.

Employer Identification Number (EIN)

An EIN is also known as an Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN) or Federal Tax Identification Number. It is issued by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). A business needs an EIN to pay employees and to file business tax returns. An EIN does not expire and is unique to your business – once an EIN has been given to an entity, it will never be issued again.

Seller’s Permit

Permit required in order to sell or lease tangible personal property in the State of California.

Contractors State License Board - Contractor License

Licenses individuals to perform various types of work in the construction industry.

Small Contractor Guide

The Small Contractor Guide is an overview of what it takes to become a handyman or contractor in San Francisco. Every business is different, but we provide the basic steps – along with tips, tricks and common mistakes to avoid. Explore below or download the Guide for quick reference.

Set Up Your Business

Create a plan

Create a plan that determines what type or range of handyman services you will provide.

Choose a business structure

Choose a business structure. LLCs, Corporations, and Limited Partnerships must register their structure with CA Secretary of State before registering locally.

Apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN)

Apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN), also known as a Federal Tax ID Number from the IRS. This is used to identify your business and allows you to hire employees. If you are a sole proprietor, you may be able to use your Social Security Number instead.

Register your business

Register your business with the City through the Office of the Treasurer and Tax Collector (TTX) and the Office of the Assessor-Recorder.

Note
You may choose to obtain a separate business address, or you may use your personal address for your registration. Whichever you choose, it must be a physical address, not a P.O. Box.

Choose and file a business name

File a Fictitious Business Name (FBN) Statement at the Office of the County Clerk if you will be using a name other than your given name, the names of your partners, or the officially registered name of your LLC or corporation.

Construction Services

Obtain a General Building Contractor License

Obtain a General Building Contractor License through the CA Department of Consumer Affairs, Contractors State Licensing Board (CLSB). This is required for anyone doing construction in California.

Note
For projects where the combined value of labor, materials, and all other costs on one or more contracts is less than $500, you do not need a General Contractor’s license.

Note
Most specialized work requires an additional license. Apply for any additional classifications you may need from the CSLB. (Eg. Cabinet, Millwork and Finish Carpentry, Ceramic and Mosaic Tile, or Framing and Rough Carpentry.

Purchase workers’ comp insurance

Purchase workers’ compensation insurance through an agent or broker. California employers are required by law to have workers’ compensation insurance, even if they have only one employee.

Note
If you are a roofer and don't have any employees, you are still required to carry workers’ compensation insurance.

Adopt workplace safety measures

Adopt workplace safety measures that comply with Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requirements. These include providing a workplace free of hazards, training employees to do their jobs safely, notifying government administrators about serious workplace accidents, and keeping detailed safety records.

Obtain appropriate tools and gear

General and specialized tools vary depending upon the type of services you provide, so decide which tools you need, and whether you should rent or buy.

After Opening

Solicit work

There are a number of ways to seek out work, including using the web, word-of-mouth, advertising, partnerships, etc.

Negotiate compensation

Negotiate compensation & payment plan prior to signing a contract. Consider taking a class or seeking other advice on contracts.

Building permits

Ensure all building permits are in order. As a contractor, you are ultimately responsible for advising the person or company that hired you. You may not begin working without proof that all required permits are approved.

Debris disposal

Dispose of construction and demolition debris properly. These materials must be removed from a project and properly recycled or reused.

Pay your taxes

Prepare and pay your local, state, and federal taxes. Learn more from the SF Treasurer, SF Assessor, CA Franchise Tax Board, and the IRS.