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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Here's the short version. I've been working in a non construction related business my entire life, plugging away at something I no longer enjoy. I've been doing carpentry and tile work as a hobby for about 20 years. Mostly pro-bono work for self, family and friends. Cabinetry, tile, kitchen and bath remodels, etc. As I approach retirement age, I would really like to obtain a Residential Contractor License and spend the last 5-7 years of my working life doing something I enjoy. I am not looking to build a vast business with employees. I just want to work alone doing the things I enjoy doing. I realize I could probably do like many others in my situation and skirt the system by forgoing the licensing and possibly stay under the radar. But I prefer to join the ranks of the professionals and do this thing the right way. I want to be able to take on the jobs greater than $2500 without having to look over my shoulder or worry about getting paid with no legal recourse if I don't.

I have read over all the processes required to obtain the licensing and I think I understand what is needed. My dilemma is with the requirements for the work experience and projects completed section on the application. While I have completed many projects that fit the criteria, obviously these were done without the supervision of anyone licensed.

I still have about 3 years before I am ready to make this move. So I "think" I have time to get this in order. And I can't imagine I am the only one that has ever faced this situation.

Can anyone offer suggestions on what I can do to overcome the dilemma?
Can I simply take on a few projects and find a licensed contractor to come in and inspect and sign off? Do licensed guys do this kind of thing?

I appreciate any help you can provide.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Well, this is damn disappointing. After 1 week and 80 views, not one single professional out there has any advice to offer?
Did I reach out the wrong group for help?
 

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Go to work for a contractor to get the required hours.

You’re not licensed, so a GC couldn’t hire you as a sub.

Probably no contractor in his right mind would “sign off” on your work. No reward, but lots of liability.

You could go the “Craigslist Contractor” route. If you don’t get sued or fined, the powers that be may be more interested in helping you become legitimate than flying under the radar.


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You need to get some jobsite time first

@Dan Turner
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Go to work for a contractor to get the required hours.

You’re not licensed, so a GC couldn’t hire you as a sub.

Probably no contractor in his right mind would “sign off” on your work. No reward, but lots of liability.

You could go the “Craigslist Contractor” route. If you don’t get sued or fined, the powers that be may be more interested in helping you become legitimate than flying under the radar.


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Sounds like you are saying I need to become an employee for a while and I can't just do a few jobs for a GC because he can't legally hire me. Thanks for the input. Really appreciated.
 

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Kowboy
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My dilemma is with the requirements for the work experience and projects completed section on the application. While I have completed many projects that fit the criteria, obviously these were done without the supervision of anyone licensed.
philb:

You need to document the work you have completed.

"A minimum of 4-years’ experience in the field, which at least 2 of the years should have been with a general contractor."

Note that the law says "should have". It doesn't say "must have".

You're trying to make a case that you deserve a chance. Take it please.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
philb:

You need to document the work you have completed.

"A minimum of 4-years’ experience in the field, which at least 2 of the years should have been with a general contractor."

Note that the law says "should have". It doesn't say "must have".

You're trying to make a case that you deserve a chance. Take it please.
Kowboy,
This is great advice. I'm confident that on paper I can show adequate experience with my projects completed.
I guess worst case, I lose the $200 application fee. Worth the risk.

Thanks for the help!
 

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Here's the short version. I've been working in a non construction related business my entire life, plugging away at something I no longer enjoy. I've been doing carpentry and tile work as a hobby for about 20 years. Mostly pro-bono work for self, family and friends. Cabinetry, tile, kitchen and bath remodels, etc. As I approach retirement age, I would really like to obtain a Residential Contractor License and spend the last 5-7 years of my working life doing something I enjoy. I am not looking to build a vast business with employees. I just want to work alone doing the things I enjoy doing. I realize I could probably do like many others in my situation and skirt the system by forgoing the licensing and possibly stay under the radar. But I prefer to join the ranks of the professionals and do this thing the right way. I want to be able to take on the jobs greater than $2500 without having to look over my shoulder or worry about getting paid with no legal recourse if I don't.

I have read over all the processes required to obtain the licensing and I think I understand what is needed. My dilemma is with the requirements for the work experience and projects completed section on the application. While I have completed many projects that fit the criteria, obviously these were done without the supervision of anyone licensed.

I still have about 3 years before I am ready to make this move. So I "think" I have time to get this in order. And I can't imagine I am the only one that has ever faced this situation.

Can anyone offer suggestions on what I can do to overcome the dilemma?
Can I simply take on a few projects and find a licensed contractor to come in and inspect and sign off? Do licensed guys do this kind of thing?

I appreciate any help you can provide.
Georgia Pro Licensing has a lot of forms to fill out. I'm not sure if anything has changed since I got my ticket but not only the hours...but letters of references from client(s), engineer and a building official to validate your time spent in being active and part of the res.construction landscape.

The application plus fees is small investment ($200 or more now) and non-refundable. Whatever you submit must meet exactly the application as the State pays the reviewer to approve or decline an application. Those that are willing to risk their license by validating you to the Board are taking a risk with their livelihood...don't ask for a favor from another ticket and be wary of those tickets willing to sell you a reference. It only takes two bogus referrals to research everyone that used that license to acquire validation.

Once you get through the blender for validation, you'll need tax and bank records, Insurance cover letters and affidavits about your personal history civilly, criminally and financially.

All of that just to be qualified to take the test. Don't turn your nose up about a Open Book Test....the time vs. number of questions do NOT allow for you not to know how to find something that is either in the code books; found in the OSHA manual; steel manuals, heavy equipment specifications (especially if you take the residential and light commercial test). There's law, office work, accounting questions and a general knowledge of everything that a builder should know with regards to the business....the art of any work being performed is very much secondary. They're looking for those that have made some success in what they're doing to translate into a new role.


It's not made to keep you out of the role as a licensed contractor....after you qualify, you durn well do NOT want to risk that license. They can pull your ticket and in Georgia, the majority of the counties work by permit only....and only you or the homeowner can get the permit. You can do this...but if you have three years of decision time in working towards this goal, apply that time accordingly.

Good luck.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Georgia Pro Licensing has a lot of forms to fill out. I'm not sure if anything has changed since I got my ticket but not only the hours...but letters of references from client(s), engineer and a building official to validate your time spent in being active and part of the res.construction landscape.

The application plus fees is small investment ($200 or more now) and non-refundable. Whatever you submit must meet exactly the application as the State pays the reviewer to approve or decline an application. Those that are willing to risk their license by validating you to the Board are taking a risk with their livelihood...don't ask for a favor from another ticket and be wary of those tickets willing to sell you a reference. It only takes two bogus referrals to research everyone that used that license to acquire validation.

Once you get through the blender for validation, you'll need tax and bank records, Insurance cover letters and affidavits about your personal history civilly, criminally and financially.

All of that just to be qualified to take the test. Don't turn your nose up about a Open Book Test....the time vs. number of questions do NOT allow for you not to know how to find something that is either in the code books; found in the OSHA manual; steel manuals, heavy equipment specifications (especially if you take the residential and light commercial test). There's law, office work, accounting questions and a general knowledge of everything that a builder should know with regards to the business....the art of any work being performed is very much secondary. They're looking for those that have made some success in what they're doing to translate into a new role.


It's not made to keep you out of the role as a licensed contractor....after you qualify, you durn well do NOT want to risk that license. They can pull your ticket and in Georgia, the majority of the counties work by permit only....and only you or the homeowner can get the permit. You can do this...but if you have three years of decision time in working towards this goal, apply that time accordingly.

Good luck.
Dan,
Thanks for taking the time to respond. This is very useful information.

Getting letters of reference from clients will be easy. Getting letters from an engineer and a building official will probably be impossible since I have spent my construction time as an on the side business working directly with the homeowner. Without a license or working for a GC, I assume I can't really deal with an engineer or building official, "officially". Hopefully client letters will be sufficient. Thanks for this tip.

Some of the work I have performed has been for family. Do you feel letters from "family" clients will be accepted or looked at detrimentally?

As far as the exam is concerned, can I get your opinion on all the companies offering prep classes which include tabbed books? These are very expensive but they all boast a 90+% pass rate. In your opinion, are these legitimate or another way for someone to dig into the pockets of unknowing people like me? On the surface, this sounds like a must take class for me since construction has not been my focal career.

Thanks again for taking the time to help me navigate the path to my goal.
 

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Go to the Ga Licensing at the Secretary of State's office and use the download menu to sort through the forms as well as the submittal punch-list. There may have been changes over the years but I recall having to submit some references to meet their guidelines before qualifying to sit for the test. If they still request the reference letters....they do make the calls and check out the person submitted.

As for a building official....I would suggest that you locate the BO that rules over the building inspections and make an appointment for 15 minutes of time or less. The more rural...the more likely you can just walk in and see the BO at the front counter waiting for customers. When you meet, explain your intentions and that you're working on everything to qualify for the Licensing test, but want to know if you can borrow a retired IRC code book (the previous year) while you prepare before buying the current IRC book prior to the test. A good joe BO will probably give you his biz card to stay in touch...if you have any questions.

You may not have questions...but you can stay on the horizon with the BO by just sending a note to see if the office can share a copy of Building Code Updates and Amendments that the Dept.of Community Affairs will enact a few times a year. It's not that you need it all....as with all professions....it's not what you have in your brain, it's how quickly and accurately you can find any CURRENT answer to any question or conflict.

The BOs know the codes....they expect their builders to do the same. You'll be their best bud if you wander in and simply ask to borrow some of their code books to help get our Codes up to the speed before making the investment in IRC version for Georgia. You can probably download what you need for the amendments and updates....but you need the BO on your side for whatever length of time you need before applying for the license application to test.

There's a list of books to collect for the licensing test. Get the books. I buy 95% of my test reference books via Ebay at a huge discount for a used book....in almost all cases, simply text or library books that rarely got opened. But you don't need new....just whatever edition book in the list of references to take to the test.

The GC is the go to guy. It used to be new GC's could rely on old timers builders and good subs to help them along....that's no more for the most part. The Feds and States saw the decrease in subs and labor coming years ago and knew that it will be a tough job for the general contractor to find qualified any one to work. If you rush into this end of it without the foundation you need....you'll find out what went wrong and why YOU are the responsible party. Keeping in mind...when you sign that permit application, you are affiant to agreeing to building that permit to meet or exceed the current building codes.

MY 2018 IRC book is 990 pages thick. That book can be used along with an expert engaged by plaintiff to show you and the jury what you did wrong...the exceptions will be the other licensed contractors for HVAC, Plumbing and Electrical. Given the fact that one of the biggest sought after occupations right out high school is LAW....you and your insurance company is ground zero. With one or two major losses...it'll only be YOU. Without insurance, your license is void; your LCC is breached, your corporate veil is pierced and your wallet is raped.


It happens more than you know, but all the opposing lawyer needs is a foothold in their pursuit...and that angle can come from a dozen different directions. When you're working with, committing to or spending client funds for hundreds of thousands of dollars for new construction...there are no small law suits. Triple tier LLC protection is only as good as how it's structured...but it won't protect you from a personal encounter with a lawyer that finds fraud in anything you provided in order to materially induce a client to engage you to perform.

Just to let you know....in April 2022, I"ll be celebrating my 50th year as a builder and general contractor for residential and moderate structural commercial. I've seen too many good guys come and go with best of intentions and three times as many not so good guys that have plans that always put them out of business...because uppermost, this is a business; just as hard working as farming and with all the risk hanging above your head.
 

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Kowboy
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Some of the work I have performed has been for family. Do you feel letters from "family" clients will be accepted or looked at detrimentally?

As far as the exam is concerned, can I get your opinion on all the companies offering prep classes which include tabbed books? These are very expensive but they all boast a 90+% pass rate. In your opinion, are these legitimate or another way for someone to dig into the pockets of unknowing people like me? On the surface, this sounds like a must take class for me since construction has not been my focal career.
The circumstances of your clients are irrelevant.

I don't care how long you've been in construction, you aren't going to pass the Florida licensing exam without taking the prep class. They don't teach you construction; you're practicing how and where to look up the answers for the open book proctored examination in a timely manner. If you're serious about this, you'll spend the dough.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
The circumstances of your clients are irrelevant.

I don't care how long you've been in construction, you aren't going to pass the Florida licensing exam without taking the prep class. They don't teach you construction; you're practicing how and where to look up the answers for the open book proctored examination in a timely manner. If you're serious about this, you'll spend the dough.
Ok, that is exactly what I was thinking as well. I know what I know but I don’t know crap about what I don’t know. I will definitely need help finding those answers.
Thanks again for all your help.
 
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