Welcome to General Contractors License Guide
We are a central hub for everything you need to know in order to get your general contractor license. You will find detailed license requirements for residential and commercial construction contractors, electrical contractors, and plumbers and other business requirements for building trades specific to each state. It is not as difficult as you may think to become a licensed contractor – especially if you have some experience already.
This article is broken into a few pages to make for easier reading. If you go to the next page you can find a list of licensing requirements for each of the 50 states. Simply click your state on the list and you’ll find all the information you need.
As well as teaching you specifically how to become a contractor, we also feature helpful information on marketing your services, training to pass licensing exams, obtaining necessary insurance, useful software and other resources to launch your business.
What is a Licensed Contractor?
A licensed contractor has the know-how, applied background and training necessary to get a contractor’s license. The licensed contractor is primarily responsible for the supervision of an entire construction project. This could be anything from constructing a new office building or property, a room add-on, addition of a second story, landscaping services, home improvement, or getting a job finished that requires a building permit.
This includes full supervision of the work, scheduling of the subcontractors and compliance with the building codes. To qualify to become a licensed contractor you have to have the experience and skill set needed to run everyday activities of a construction business, most notably field supervision. Or, you should be represented by another individual with the necessary know-how and experience (e.g. in conducting certified energy audits or green building design or framing), who would be your qualifying person.
Contractors are unable to get licensed without having also passing an examination that covers business management competency. Other requirements include criminal background check, plus not possessing any outstanding open contracting grievances. A licensed contractor has worker’s compensation and liability insurance for his or her employees and can get and also sign building permits.
Next page: Licensing information for each state. There’s also more information about why you should become a contractor and what to expect.
State General Contractor License Information
- District of Columbia
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
What are the Advantages of Being a Licensed Contractor?
With a license, you’ll have a significant competitive advantage in the marketplace for home improvement and other construction and renovation contracts. More and more homeowners are getting to be savvy and opt to hire licensed general contractors. Licensed contractors are subject to statutes put in place to safeguard consumers.
Being a licensed contractor means that you have met the mandatory minimum specifications for your line of work as legislated by all the states. As a licensed general contractor, you would not fix plumbing work, electrical as well as mechanical work; as these types of trades all have their own unique license requirements. Regardless, as an individual overseeing a building or rehabilitation project, you are going to want to be familiar with the specifications of multiple specialties.
The Road to Becoming a Licensed Construction Contractor
State along with local ordinances throughout the United States mandate any individual hired under contract to carry out construction at a given property must be a licensed contractor with a state. To become a licensed contractor, there are certain minimum established requirements. By means of undergoing stringent evaluation and screening, you could become a licensed contractor.
Various other criteria determine whether a construction contractor can become licensed in each state, such as having a clean background, proven financial competency, maintaining a bond against bankruptcy, having a minimum amount of experience, and typically pass both business and trade exams. The procedure often requires several months in order to complete.
Even though the exact procedure varies by state, it usually begins with completing an application. When the state approves the required forms, a notice will be sent announcing the appointment to take the state assessment. The exam will cover areas, such as Law as well as Business, based on state codes, and construction based on the Uniform Building Code. Once you successfully pass the exam, the applicant must spend the money for compulsory license fees, post a bond, secure workman’s compensation and liability insurance if needed, as well as prove minimal working capital. Each license is issued for a set timeframe (for example, two to four years depending on your state of residence) and additionally must be continuously renewed to be able to continue to operate as a Licensed Contractor.
New licensed general contractors have worked under another licensed contractor and have identified things they need to do (or what not to do!) Your experience of working for an individual who did all the wrong things and knowing you could do it better may cause you to get your contractor’s license. You could potentially create a whole new fully licensed company by mixing your own license and credentials with other licensed general contractors. You may want to recruit students in training paired along with unlicensed construction industry professionals. Commonly, all published marketing material such as business cards, newspaper advertisements and also telephone book ads have to show your contractor’s state license number.
Next page: Things you NEED to know before becoming a contractor, and tips to help you succeed.
What are the Important Things to Know about Becoming a Licensed Contractor?
You’ll have a marketing advantage with consumers who are trying to find a trustworthy business to manage critical building and renovation plans. It is not necessarily surprising, however, to learn that an unlicensed construction contractor is less pricey when compared to a licensed contractor. Unlicensed contractors possess advantages that enable them to provide the lowest prices, like not paying for licensing charges, nor obtaining a bond to protect their work, nor do they purchase liability or workers compensation insurance policies. Without these added costs, an unlicensed contractor may offer their services for a price lower than the lawfully licensed contractor.
Unlicensed contractors will try to create work-arounds to cut back costs under project costs that trigger the mandatory use of an authorized contractor in a given state. They will do so in order to get construction work, although it might mean violating the law. This is simply not good business practice. An increasing number of consumers (with the help of government agencies seeking to protect the general public from fraudulent enterprises) have begun to stay away from anyone who offers to perform construction or specialty work that doesn’t hold a contractor’s license.
Most individuals and businesses want to know they are really hiring a respected contractor licensed by the state. Thus, an additional incentive to be licensed is the opportunity to get more work. A large number of homeowner policies require that a job must be done by a licensed building contractor and supply no insurance coverage for a job done using unlicensed individuals. The client may desire to not spend as much; however when homeowners or enterprises weigh any imagined financial advantages up against the potential consequences, it stands to reason to use a licensed construction contractor.
How Licensed Contractors Operate Successfully
Upon getting your license, you should have a strategic business plan. Evolving economic conditions mean that large commercial jobs and extensive home renovations may not always become your main source of income. Experienced contractors follow the actual trends, remain flexible, and will take on small projects such as weatherization, electrical work and plumbing, and large jobs. Prosperous construction contractors do this by giving a comprehensive range of services to prospective clients.
While building contractors offer a suite of services to the general public under a registered company name, a construction contractor license does not by itself allow a contractor to perform or supervise regulated, construction-related trade work. The contractor must hire a certified supervisor in a full-time, proactive capacity. You must carry legitimate insurance coverage and obtain all of the necessary trades prior to starting a job. Contractors should just use their personal staff or that of another appropriately licensed contractor to carry out the project. Every single state calls for a contractor to register their own name and ownership, get a business license as a general contractor, in addition to a business license for any extra specialty trades (such as sign work or demolition).
To reach your goals and fully grasp long term company financial growth and revenue, you might need appropriate software solutions for construction accounting, expenditure estimates and project management software. Other necessary contractor skills involve in depth knowledge of building codes, blueprint reading, expense estimates and business development tools include sample letters, forms, guides, and processes based on best practices originated in prosperous building contractor enterprises.