The Michigan Handyman License Guide provides essential information for anyone desiring to make a living performing handyman duties in the state of Michigan. It will help you to understand licensing requirements, initial and ongoing training, and insurance necessities.
Handyman license requirements in Michigan are dependent on the type of work you will be performing, as well as the cost of each project. In general, any work with a cost of more than $600 will require you to obtain a Residential Maintenance and Alterations Contractor license. Penalties for pursuing handyman jobs with a cost above $600 without a license are harsh.
In addition, several common constructions, maintenance, or repair projects in Michigan will require licensure regardless of the project cost. This guide will help you understand what projects you can legally pursue without a license and those you must be licensed to perform.
Disclaimer: This article is not legal advice. You should consult your local regulations and a qualified attorney for legal advice.
Do You Need a License to be a Handyman in Michigan?
In Michigan, any general contracting work with a cost higher than $600 will require licensure. As long as the job remains under that cost threshold, you may remain unlicensed and accept the following types of projects:
- Sewer, septic, waterline, and sprinklers
- Pavers without mortar
- Asphalt Paving
- House moving
- Carpet and vinyl flooring
- Plaster and lath
It is important to note, that plumbing, electrical and mechanical projects always require dedicated licensure beyond the general contractor level. These jobs must be subcontracted out to the appropriate, licensed professional.
Is There a Specific Handyman License in Michigan?
There is not a dedicated handyman license in Michigan; however, any work over $600 and certain types of projects will require some form of a general contractor license.
There are three types of general contractor licenses available in Michigan. The license that most closely fits with the work being sought by a handyman is the Residential Maintenance and Alterations Contractor license.
Michigan Handyman License Requirements
In Michigan, licensing for Residential Builders and Residential Maintenance and Alterations Contractors are handled through the Bureau of Professional Licensing within the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs.
To obtain your Residential Maintenance and Alterations Contractor license you will need to follow these steps:
- Complete 60 hours of LARA-approved pre-licensure classes.
- Be financially stable and of good moral character.
- Submit your application to the state.
- Take the Residential Maintenance and Alterations Contractor exam proctored through PSI.
There are no overt insurance requirements for general contractors in Michigan; however, depending on your situation there are several types of insurance you may need or that may be prudent for you to have.
General Liability Insurance
This insurance protects you against third-party claims of injury or property damage related to your work.
Worker’s Compensation Insurance
If you intend to hire employees, Michigan law requires you to have worker’s compensation insurance. You must have this insurance if you have a single employee who works 35 hours a week or more and anytime you have three or more employees regardless of how much they work.
Commercial Liability Insurance
If you work out of a dedicated physical location, commercial liability insurance will protect your building and expensive equipment. If you lease your location, your landlord may require this type of insurance.
Use the tool below to request a free commercial insurance quote from our partners.
Michigan Handyman Licensing and Registration Fees
There are various fees associated with obtaining your Michigan handyman license. At the time of this writing, the following fees are current:
- Application fee for the Residential Maintenance and Alterations Contractor license – $195
- Tuition for the required 60-hour Pre-licensure Education – price will vary. Contact individual approved providers for pricing
- Examination Fees – $70 to $114 dependent on how many trade portions of the exam you choose to sit for
- License Renewal Fee – $150 every three years
It is important to note that although a criminal background check is not a part of the application process, you are required to show that you are of good moral character. You will be asked questions about previous criminal convictions on the application and there are instances in which licenses have been denied on these grounds. If you have past convictions, it would be prudent to check with the Bureau of Professional Licensing before beginning your 60-hour training course.
Michigan Handyman License Education Requirements and Exam
You are required to undertake 60 hours of Pre-licensure Education to get your Residential Maintenance and Alteration Contractor license. The course will include 18 hours of elective courses and 6 hours each of the following required courses:
- Business Management, Estimating, and Job Costing
- Design and Building Science
- Contracts, Liability, and Risk Management
- Marketing and Sales
- Project Management and Scheduling
- The Michigan Residential Code
- MIOSHA Construction Safety Standards
Handyman License Exam Details
Once you have completed the mandatory 60-hour pre-licensure course, you will need to sit for a licensing exam. This exam is closed book and timed. You will have 135 minutes for each section. The testing fee will be $70 for the required business law section only, $99 for the business law section plus one trade section, or $114 for the business law section plus two trade sections.
Testing for Residential Builders and Residential Maintenance and Alteration Contractors is done through PSI for the state of Michigan. You can register for an exam on their website.
There are currently eight testing sites throughout the state of Michigan:
- Two in Grand Rapids
- Two in Southfield
You can find a detailed list of testing centers, addresses, and directions on the PSI site.
LARA provides a highly detailed bulletin for candidates seeking information on testing for the Residential Maintenance and Alteration Contractor license. You can read and download that here.
Handyman Training and Certification Programs
The required pre-licensing education for a handyman in Michigan is quite thorough. You can become licensed for a variety of trade work with this centralized training.
Specific certifications or memberships, such as obtaining a home inspector certificate or joining The Association of Certified Handyman Professionals, can lend credibility to your business. It is also essential to understand fundamental business principles, which you can gain through an online training program.
Michigan Handyman License Application
You will mail the completed application and any required documents to the following address:
Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs
Bureau of Construction Codes/ Residential Builder Section
P.O. Box 30255, Lansing, MI 48909
Once your application has been approved, you are free to move forward to the Residential Builders and Alteration Contractor exam.
Handyman License Michigan FAQ
1. What Happens If I Do Not Have the Right License?
Penalties for engaging in general contracting work without the proper license in Michigan are quite severe. A first offense can be met with fines of up to $25,000 and/or a year in prison.
2. How Long Is My Michigan Handyman License Valid?
You must renew your license every three years in the state of Michigan. Renewals are due by March 31. Renewal fees are $150. Renewals are completed online at the LARA site.
Michigan also requires licensed general contractors to take part in continuing education to maintain their status. If you have had your original license for less than 6 years, you are required to take 21 hours of continuing education courses. Those who have been licensed for 6 years or more must complete 3 hours of continuing education courses. Approved courses include those also approved for prelicensure education.
3. Who Can I Contact If I Have Questions?
If you have questions about the licensing process beyond the information in this Michigan Handyman License Guide, you can contact the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, Bureau of Professional Licensing at (517) 373-8068. You may also visit their website at www.michigan.gov/bpl.