In many parts of the U.S., a handyman is someone who handles minor repairs and renovations without needing to be fully licensed as a general contractor. This provides benefits for homeowners who want to save money on smaller projects without having to go the DIY route, and it gives you opportunities to make a living without having to go through an extensive apprenticeship.
At first glance, the laws around handyman work can seem vague and confusing in Minnesota. The state has many exceptions to licensing, and individual cities have different requirements, especially Minneapolis and Saint Paul. The purpose of this guide is to help you learn how to get a handyman license or meet equivalent requirements in Minnesota.
Knowing when and where you need a contractor license is important to avoid running into problems with your business. There are specific types of work you can and cannot perform according to Minnesota handyman license rules. This article also discusses the pros and cons of applying for a residential building contractor or remodeler license as your business expands.
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 Minnesota?
A handyman in Minnesota may need a license in some situations. Any contractor providing roofing services must be licensed. Handyman businesses that make more than $15,000 a year from residential contracting or remodeling must get a license if they perform more than one type of specialty service.
If you only provide handyman services in one specialty area, such as exclusively focusing on drywall and interior painting, you wouldn’t need a license even if you make more than $15,000 a year. You would need to obtain a Certificate of Exemption, however.
Any time work includes several specialty areas, such as small siding repairs, drywall work, tile installation, and carpeting, you need a residential remodeler license if you make over $15,000 annually. A handyman in Minnesota cannot offer plumbing or electrical services without having the appropriate journeyman or master trade license.
Is There a Specific Handyman License in Minnesota?
The state of Minnesota does not offer any specific handyman licenses. Home improvement professionals can apply for a residential building contractor license or remodeler license. Roofing businesses must have a residential roofer license or one of the other licenses.
Note that some cities in Minnesota may have different licensing requirements, such as Minneapolis and Saint Paul. In Saint Paul, businesses performing general remodeling services requires a Saint Paul Building Contractor license.
Minnesota Handyman License Requirements
If you perform more than $15,000 of work in more than one specialty, you need to obtain a residential building contractor license or a residential remodeler license. The categories of specialty services include masonry/concrete work, carpentry, interior finishing (e.g. flooring and carpeting), exterior finishing (e.g. painting and siding), drywall/interior painting, and general installation services (e.g. pools, garage doors, and fireplaces).
Apply for the residential remodeler license if your services only include work on existing homes; remodeling includes repairing, expanding, or otherwise improving home interiors and exteriors.
To be able to build a detached garage or new home, you must have a residential building contractor license. The residential building contractor license is similar to a general contractor license in other states; the license allows for remodeling and roofing activities.
It’s a good idea to check local city requirements for handyman businesses before getting started. Getting accurate information about handyman FAQs can help you avoid big problems.
The state of Minnesota requires all employers to have workers’ compensation insurance (excluding immediate family members) or meet the requirements for self-insurance. Some cities in Minnesota require residential building contractors to carry liability insurance.
Any company vehicle must have the appropriate commercial auto insurance coverage. Even if you just drive your pickup truck for work, you still need Personal Injury Protection coverage of $40,000, Liability of $30,000/$60,000/$10,000, uninsured motorist of $25,000/$50,000, and underinsured motorist insurance for $25,000/$50,000.
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Minnesota Handyman Licensing and Registration Fees
If you perform work that falls under several remodeling specialties but make less than $15,000 a year from these activities, you don’t need to obtain any contractor’s license or pay license fees. It is necessary to get a Certificate of Exemption in this situation. The certificate costs $10 the first time, and renewal is $10 (or $15 for expired certificates). The certificate expires on March 31 of each year and must be renewed annually.
Applying for a Certificate of Exemption requires first registering your business with the Office of the Minnesota Secretary of State. You need a Tax ID number, proof of employment insurance, and a certificate of compliance form for workers’ compensation insurance in Minnesota. It’s also necessary to fill out a background disclosure form with information about past criminal convictions, bankruptcy, and employment history.
If you don’t need a Certificate of Exemption or contractor’s license in Minnesota (because you only focus on one specialty area), you must register with the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry. Contractor registration doesn’t have any fees.
Handyman Training and Certification Programs
There are several certification options for handyman businesses looking to expand their services or reputation. For example, you can become a certified home inspector in Minnesota or obtain Minnesota EPA certification for technicians working with refrigerants. Companies performing HVAC-related work don’t need a state license, but they do need to submit a mechanical contractor bond of $25,000 with Minnesota DLI.
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.
Handyman License Minnesota FAQ
While there are no specific handyman license requirements in Minnesota, you need to know what to do to run your business safely. These Minnesota handyman license FAQs can help you.
1. What Happens If I Do Not Have the Right License?
There are several criminal, civil and administrative penalties in Minnesota for performing work without the appropriate license if you’re required to hold a license. For example, handling electrical or plumbing work while unlicensed is considered a misdemeanor. This can result in prison time of a maximum of 90 days and a fine of up to $1,000.
If you tell homeowners that you’re licensed or commit other types of fraud, you may face penalties in addition to the possibility of civil lawsuits. Additionally, not being correctly licensed automatically invalidates any liens for your work, meaning clients are not required to pay you for the job.
2. What If I Accidentally Make Over $15,000 as a Remodeler in Minnesota?
If your business only performs work in one remodeling specialty (except roofing, which always requires a license), there are no limits to the amount of money you can make in a year. A Certificate of Exemption is only needed if your handyman work includes two or more specialties.
If at any time in a year, you make over $15,000 from these activities, the Certificate of Exemption becomes invalid and you must obtain a residential building contractor license or remodeler license before you can continue working. There are no penalties for going beyond the $15,000 limit, however.
3. Should I Get a Residential Building Contractor or Remodeler License If I’m Not Legally Required To?
Obtaining a residential building contractor license in Minnesota comes with costs but also has advantages. On one hand, you need extensive education and apprenticeship to pass the licensing exam, along with exam fees, license fees, and ongoing training.
On the other hand, holding a residential remodeler or contractor license allows you to perform work throughout the state regardless of specific city requirements. Customers may be more likely to hire a business with this type of license. At the very least, you may want to register as a contractor with the state of Minnesota so you can legally work as a subcontractor in your specialty area.
4. Who Can I Contact If I Have Questions?
For any questions regarding handyman work and remodeling licenses, contact the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry. Send an email to [email protected] or call (651) 284-5034.
5. Does My Certificate of Exemption Apply to Cities Such as Minneapolis and Saint Paul?
Holding a Certificate of Exemption only applies to Minnesota state requirements for contractors and remodeling businesses. Individual cities can still require you to hold a remodeling contractor license to perform handyman work. For example, in Minneapolis, you must hold a residential specialty contractor license even if you only perform work in one specialty.
A handyman in some places in Minnesota can make anywhere from $50 to $85 an hour. It’s worth exploring your options. Whether you decide to stick to one specialty area or get a full-blown remodeling contractor license, there are many opportunities for businesses looking for a Minnesota handyman license.
For More License and Career Guides
To find out how to become a Handyman in another state, start here.
For information on other trades in Minnesota, click on a link below to learn more about the licensing requirements: