2013 California Construction Law Update



SB 474 – One of the most talked about new laws is not technically “new” at all, but rather, a bill that was signed into law in 2011 but with an effective date of January 1, 2013.

Beginning January 1, 2013, construction contracts which require a subcontractor to insure, indemnify, or defend a general contractor, construction manager, or other subcontractor from their: (1) active negligence or willful misconduct; (2) design defects; or (3) claims that do not arise out of the scope of work of the subcontractor, are void and unenforceable.

The new law effectively eliminates “Type I” indemnity clauses in construction contracts. Type I indemnity clauses were, prior to the enactment of the new legislation, already prohibited in residential construction contracts (except for homeowners performing home improvement projects on a single family dwelling).

Under the new law, Type I indemnity clauses are now prohibited in private commercial construction contracts, as well as public works projects, although as it applies to owners and public agencies, it only restricts owners and public entities from requiring indemnity for their “active negligence” but applies broadly to contractors, subcontractors, and material suppliers.

The new law does have a number exceptions, however. It does not apply to design professionals, has no affect on additional insured obligations, and does not apply to owner controlled insurance programs. The new law also does not affect “Type II” indemnity clauses in which a party is indemnified for their “passive,” as opposed to “active,” negligence.


AB 397 – Requires proof of worker’s compensation coverage, or proof of exemption, at the time of license renewal with the California Contractors State License Board (“CSLB”).

AB 1794 – Authorizes the California Employment Development Department to share information with the Joint Enforcement Strike Force on the Underground Economy, the CSLB, and California State Compensation Insurance Fund through January 1, 2019.

AB 2219 – Existing law, which requires roofing contractors to have workers’ compensation insurance whether or not they have any employees, and which was set to expire on January 1, 2013, has been made permanent.

AB 2237 – Requires construction managers to be licensed by the CSLB in order to provide services in connection with a home improvement contract.

School Projects

AB 1565 – Requires school districts, except for districts with an average daily attendance under 2500, to use a bidder pre-qualification process for projects receiving School Facility Program funding on all projects through January 1, 2018.

AB 1598 – Includes within the definition of “public works,” modular office systems such as portable classrooms, for purposes of prevailing wage and listing laws.

SB 1509 – Existing law, which authorizes school districts and community college districts to enter into design-build contracts, and which was set to expire on January 1, 2014, has been extended to January 1, 2020.


AB 1671 – Existing law, which prohibits the California Department of Transportation (“CalTrans”) from withholding retention, and which was set to expire on December 31, 2013, has been extended to January 1, 2020.

AB 2498 – Establishes a pilot program authorizing CalTrans to designate six projects for a construction manager/general contractor project delivery method.

Disability Access

SB 1186 – Reduction in minimum statutory damages in disability access litigation from $4,000 to $1,000 if property was certified by Certified Access Specialist (“CASp”). Owners must disclose to tenants whether property has been certified by CASp.

Green Building

AB 930 – Requires at least one member of the California Building Standards Commission be a person experienced and knowledgeable in sustainable building, design, construction, and operation.

Construction Vehicles

SB 341 – Requires vehicles, which operate at or transport materials to a construction site, and with a gross vehicle weight rating in excess of 14,000, to have an automatic audible backup alarm.

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