Generally speaking, the benefits of hiring a licensed contractor far outweigh the perceived benefit of acting as your own contractor and managing the project yourself. Acting as your own contractor (especially if you are not experienced in construction techniques and procedures) has cost many an unwitting applicant more in the long run than what the cost would have been had they hired a competent contractor.
On the Building Permit Application, there are two spaces to check if you are obtaining the permit as an owner-builder. One is applicable if you are acting as an employer; the other, if you are exclusively contracting with licensed contractors. The forms required by California law are the Property Owner-Builder Declaration Form (PDF) and Verification Form (PDF).
The California State License Board website is an excellent source of information regarding the legal aspects of being an owner-builder, as well as the pitfalls of hiring unlicensed contractors. We strongly recommend that a potential owner-builder take the time to peruse the requirements and information included in these links.