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General Contractor
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Would you have become a contractor if your state did not require it for any of the work you do?

Even though there might be some Big Boys who WERE contractors (Hiways, Bridges, Skyscrapers, Airports, etc) in your area.

Whether yes or no..... Why?
 

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Pompass Ass
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Would you have become a contractor if your state did not require it for any of the work you do?

Even though there might be some Big Boys who WERE contractors (Hiways, Bridges, Skyscrapers, Airports, etc) in your area.

Whether yes or no..... Why?
In Florida there is no requirement to be licensed to do road work or bridges, but I know a guy who does them and he got his GC license as he said it makes him more credible.

I agree with licensing standards in Florida except the lack of a license required for rodads and bridges, just not the BS the DBPR now puts us through to get the license after we have passed the test and proven our work history.

It is kind of screwed up that a contractor can build a bridge without a license in hillsborough or pinellas county, but if he wants to do paint, Tile or drywall, he needs a license.
 

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General Contractor
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
So.... that's a "Yes" or a "No"?
 

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Certified Remodeler
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No, probably not.
As it is it offers some assurance of competence but although licensing is enforced I don't think it guarantees much of anything. Non licensed would make my job easier. Too many mixed messages when you follow state mandates.

I have been licensed for 22 years.
 

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Capra Aegagrus
Remodeler
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Would you have become a contractor if your state did not require it for any of the work you do?
I know you know what you meant by that question, but I'm not so sure. :laughing:

In PA, I don't need a license to be a contractor, so there are no licenses available (except in certain metropolitan areas). So obviously I wouldn't get one.

If for some strange reason licenses were available without being required, I'd probably get one as long as it wasn't too inconvenient or expensive. Never hurts to have a bit of extra alphabet soup tagged on to your name. :thumbsup:

OTOH, if you're talking about the literal definition of "contractor", most certainly. While I'll occasionally do work on a handshake, using that as a standard modus operandi in today's world would be business suicide.
 

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General Contractor
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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I know you know what you meant by that question, but I'm not so sure. :laughing:

In PA, I don't need a license to be a contractor, so there are no licenses available (except in certain metropolitan areas). So obviously I wouldn't get one.

If for some strange reason licenses were available without being required, I'd probably get one as long as it wasn't too inconvenient or expensive. Never hurts to have a bit of extra alphabet soup tagged on to your name. :thumbsup:

OTOH, if you're talking about the literal definition of "contractor", most certainly. While I'll occasionally do work on a handshake, using that as a standard modus operandi in today's world would be business suicide.
To clarify, I did mean a CERTIFIED or REGISTERED or OTHERWISE GOVERNMENTALLY ACCREDITED person who engages in construction.
 

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Pro
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I know you know what you meant by that question, but I'm not so sure. :laughing:

In PA, I don't need a license to be a contractor, so there are no licenses available (except in certain metropolitan areas). So obviously I wouldn't get one.

If for some strange reason licenses were available without being required, I'd probably get one as long as it wasn't too inconvenient or expensive. Never hurts to have a bit of extra alphabet soup tagged on to your name. :thumbsup:

OTOH, if you're talking about the literal definition of "contractor", most certainly. While I'll occasionally do work on a handshake, using that as a standard modus operandi in today's world would be business suicide.
You might want to do a little research on that. New law took affect July 1 2009 that anyone who does any home improvement work for more than $5,000 per year needs a license from the state. There are all kinds of new requirements regarding contracts and such.

Bill
 

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You might want to do a little research on that. New law took affect July 1 2009 that anyone who does any home improvement work for more than $5,000 per year needs a license from the state. There are all kinds of new requirements regarding contracts and such.

Bill
This is not a license. It is registration. You are right about who needs to register. I haven't seen anything on the Attorney General's site that mentions a license. The requirements are pretty basic: you have an address and minimum amount of insurance, as well as some contract wording requirments. But it is not a license. Maybe I'm being nit-picky.
 

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As far as bridge and road work and home construction, the one big difference in this situation is the over sight applied to heavy high way work. It is a lot easier for someone's home remodel to become out of hand then it is for a bridge project. I understand the point you are making but it really is comparing apples to oranges. I doubt a guy with a pick up and a wheel barrow will get the necessary insurance and bond to be able to even bid on a bridge job. But he could easily end up doing some uneducated HO's bath remodel.
 

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Service & Repairs
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Yes, I would still be an EC even if it didn't require a license.

The one thing I am learning is the value of having the license because for the most part I'm still the same electrician I was a year ago.
 

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I am in Virginia and when I started out I just wanted to build houses. I found out pretty quick that the only way around not having a license is to build for yourself (spec build). For one thing you can't get a building permit in VA if you're contracting with the public, and that connection makes having a license key.

We have 3 classes A, B, and C. Each one is based on your net worth. You need a class A to do jobs over $50K (approx). I believe for jobs below $5k you don't need a license. It's different for the trades.

Homeowners who are shafted by a Class A GC can apply to the state to cover some of their loss. There's a fund for that purpose fed by part of the license fee.

Having to get a license never put me off from being a GC. I agree with the poster who said it adds some credibility to you. Prospective customers often ask whether I have a license before they ask about insurance. Well it's been alomost 20 years now, and I am used to it.
 

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General Contractor
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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I got my GC license almost 30 years ago. And I did so not only because it was required by law, but because I was much younger then and had nothing, really, to trade on. Being young, I thought the license would, as some have said, lend me some credibility that would get me past the lack of real experience and hardly any reputation at all.

It didn't really.

What proved most valuable over the years (and through the 90's construction slump) was my reputation and a steady "word of mouth" following. Today, I don't know. I probably wouldn't bother buying a license because I became well enough known that my reputation and product carried me. But then... if I didn't have those positive points that the years have placed on my side.... I guess I might again hope that some letters behind my name would make up for whatever might be lacking, and get myself a license.

But I can assure you of one thing. I would NOT go for the GC license again. I began by paying less than $400 a year in insurance. My last bill (just for the basic insurance) was over $10,000. And I know of many local "Builder" and "Residential" (B&C) Contractors that still only pay what I began with years ago.
 

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Absolutely not. If I could do work without a GC license I certainly would. It's a huge waste of money and time. A license barely guarantees anything and it just adds to the cost of doing business. I'm starting to think that the guys that are not licensed, insured and bonded will have the last laugh in the long run, because customers are 95% driven by price.

A good handyman who has a steady stream of clients will probably do better in the long run than the guys like us that get all the insurance, and everything else.

And yes, I am licensed, bonded and insured - and it pisses me off to pay those bills.
 

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I am in Virginia and when I started out I just wanted to build houses. I found out pretty quick that the only way around not having a license is to build for yourself (spec build). For one thing you can't get a building permit in VA if you're contracting with the public, and that connection makes having a license key.

We have 3 classes A, B, and C. Each one is based on your net worth. You need a class A to do jobs over $50K (approx). I believe for jobs below $5k you don't need a license. It's different for the trades.

Homeowners who are shafted by a Class A GC can apply to the state to cover some of their loss. There's a fund for that purpose fed by part of the license fee.

Having to get a license never put me off from being a GC. I agree with the poster who said it adds some credibility to you. Prospective customers often ask whether I have a license before they ask about insurance. Well it's been alomost 20 years now, and I am used to it.
JAD,
Here are the “cliff notes” if you will with regards to your post. The titles and definitions are not listed in their entirety if you want more information with regards to contracting laws and regulations you can contact DPOR at (804) 367-8511, visit their website at www.dpor.virginia.gov, or reference the publication: Business and Project Management for Contractors – Virginia Edition.

Additionally you may not build “spec” homes or otherwise with the intention of selling them to the public upon completion of the project without a contractors license. You may build a home without a contractors license but must reside in the home for one year before you can sell the property. I would think after years of building homes you would know all this but here it is anyway:


54.1-1100 Definitions

“Class A contractors” perform or manage construction, removal, repair, or improvements when (i) the total value referred to in a single contract or project is $120,000 or more, or (ii) the total value of all such construction, removal, repair, or improvements undertaken by such person within any 12-month period is $750,000 or more.

“Class B contractors” perform or manage construction, removal, repair, or improvements when (i) the total value referred to in a single contract or project is $7500 or more, or (ii) the total value of all such construction, removal, repair, or improvements undertaken by such person within any 12-month period is $150,000 or more, but less than 750,000.

“Class C contractors” perform or manage construction, removal, repair, or improvements when (i) the total value referred to in a single contract or project is over $1000 or more, or (ii) the total value of all such construction, removal, repair, or improvements undertaken by such person within any 12-month period is less than $150,000.

The board shall require a master tradesman license as a condition of licensure for electrical, plumbing and heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems.

54.1-1106 Application for Class A license; fees; examination; issuance
A. Any person desiring to be licensed as a class A contractor shall file with the department a written application on a form prescribed by the Board. The application shall be accompanied by a fee set by the board pursuant to 54.1-201. The application shall contain the name, place of employment, and business address of the proposed designated employee; information on the knowledge, skills, abilities, and financial position of the applicant.

B. If the application is satisfactory to the Board, the proposed designated employee shall be required by Board regulations to take an oral or written examination to determine his general knowledge of contracting, including the statutory and regulatory requirements governing contractors in the Commonwealth. If the proposed designated employee successfully completes the examination and the applicant meets or exceeds the other entry criteria established by the Board regulations, a Class A contractor license shall be issued to the applicant.

54.1-1108 Application for Class B license; fees; examination; issuance
A. Any person desiring to be licensed as a class B contractor shall file with the department a written application on a form prescribed by the Board. A fee set by the board pursuant to 54.1-201 shall accompany the application. The application shall contain the name, place of employment, and business address of the proposed designated employee; information on the knowledge, skills, abilities, and financial position of the applicant; evidence of holding a current local license pursuant to local ordinances adopted to 54.1-1117.

B. If the application is satisfactory to the Board, the proposed designated employee shall be required by Board regulations to take an oral or written examination to determine his general knowledge of contracting, including the statutory and regulatory requirements governing contractors in the Commonwealth. If the proposed designated employee successfully completes the examination and the applicant meets or exceeds the other entry criteria established by the Board regulations, a Class B contractor license shall be issued to the applicant.

54.1-1108.2 Application for Class C license; fees; issuance
A. Any person desiring to be licensed as a Class C contractor shall file with the department a written application on a form prescribed by the board. A fee set by the Board pursuant to 54.1-201 shall accompany the application. The application shall contain information concerning the name, location, nature, and operation of the business, and information demonstrating that the applicant possesses the character and minimum skills to properly engage in the occupation of contracting.


B. A Class A, B, or C contractor license may be granted by the Board with any of the following classifications each requiring successful completion of additional oral or written examinations: (i) building contractor, (ii) highway/heavy contractor, (iii) electrical contractor, (iv) plumbing contractor, (v) heating, ventilation, and air conditioning contractor, and (iv) specialty contractor.

54.1-1115 Prohibited Acts

  • Any person who undertakes work without (i) any valid Virginia contractor’s license or certificate when a license or certificate is required by this chapter or (ii) the proper class of license as defined in 54.1-1100 for the work undertaken, shall be fined an amount not to exceed $500 per day for each that such person is in violation, in addition to the authorized penalties for the commission of a class 1 misdemeanor.
  • No person shall be entitled to assert the lack of licensure or certification as required by this chapter as a defense to any action at law or suit in equity if the party who seeks to recover from such person gives substantial performance within the terms of the contract in good faith and without actual knowledge that a license or certificate was required by this chapter to perform the work for which he seeks to recover payment.

54.1-1120 Recovery from Fund generally.

  • When ever any person is awarded a judgment in a court of competent jurisdiction in the Commonwealth of Virginia against any individual or entity which involves improper or dishonest conduct occurring (i) during a period when such individual or entity was a regulant and (ii) in connection with a transaction involving contracting, the claimant may file a verified claim with the director to obtain a directive ordering payment from the Fund of the amount unpaid upon judgment, subject to the following conditions.

54.1-1126 Revocation of license upon payment from Fund.
Upon payment by the director to a claimant from the Fund as provided in 54.1-1125, the Board shall immediately revoke the license of the regulant whose improper or dishonest conduct resulted in payments. Any regulant whose license is revoked shall not be eligible to apply for a license as a contractor until the contractor has repaid in full the amount paid from the Fund on his account, plus interest at the judgment rate of interest from the date of payment.

WillieT,
Yes, I would still carry a license as I feel it lends somewhat to credibility and legitimacy to have a license and any other form of accreditation that you can obtain.
 

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Designer/Contractor
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It's a moot point because here in California you need a license to work but I do think it gives one more credibility when talking with a customer. For the customer who is totally price driven, explain to them that if someone gets hurt they'll be holding the bag and maybe try this cliche on them "Good things aren't cheap and cheap things aren't good".
 

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Maker of fine kindling
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6,199 Posts
I thought I was hot chit in 85 when I got my GC license. Now I wish I could escape the eyes of the man and just do my thing without another hand in my pocket.

I used to think that having a CA license was a badge of honor. Not so much any more. I cannot figure out how some of these guys ever passed a test of any kind.

My license # is 481560. They issue numbers counting up with no recycling of dead numbers. The new #'s being issued now are reaching the 1,000,000 number. Over a half million guys have passed that test since I did, believe me when I say they all aren't that good.

I think it has just become another branch of government that needs to feed itself and has lost sight of it's roots. We all send in our $ every year but the level of enforcement against all the sins that give us decent guys a bad name is a flat joke.

No I don't think I would even renew my license if there was a crack I could slither in and hide from the long reach of the man.
 

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Palisade Point Const.
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2,276 Posts
I had no shortage of laughs at how stupid the independent contractor exemption (as close as we get to a license) process in Montana really is while getting my license. It does absolutely nothing to show if you have the knowledge and capability to actually do the work and has more to do with if you act like you have your own company. They have this list of stuff that you can do to get "points", of which you need 15 in order to get your license. Being insured is worth 6 points. However, a list of your tools and their recommended retail values is also worth 6 points. Of course, they don't actually check that you have these tools, so you can send them your wishlist and they will be happy. There also isn't a required amount of tools, so you could send them a list consisting of a $20 hammer and a $40 circ saw and they will still be happy. Having business cards is worth 1.5 points. Having a bank account in the name of the business is worth 3 points. Sending them a picture of your logo on a jobsite sign, the side of a truck or a tee-shirt is worth 1.5 points. Type up a bid with your company name on it, and that's worth 1.5, and they will accept 2 of those. Registering your business name with the state gets you 3 points as well, and only costs $20, and is required in order to get the bank account in your business name.

On the other hand, you can get 3 points for a degree from a trade school, but otherwise, they never even ask about knowledge to do the work. You could have 10 years of experience, and it counts for nothing.


Technically, all the exemption does is make it so that you can't claim workman's comp or unemployment from the homeowner or general contractor if you are working as a sub. You are only required to have the exemption if you are general contractor with employees, or if you are working as a sub, and the general contractor requires it. However, they run radio ads to make homeowners think that somehow, the exemption means that the contractor is insured, will do better work, and That it's illegal to hire them if they don't have it. The truth is that it is a little more difficult to get the exemption without insurance, but certainly not impossible, the ICE does nothing to make sure that the contractor has any idea what he is doing, and it is perfectly legal to operate as long as the contractor does not have any employees, although the homeowner takes on some liability. You could sign a contract to forgo workman's comp coverage, and it would do exactly the same thing, except that the state wouldn't get it's $125, plus the $20 to register a business name that most people do when applying for the ICE.

My dad has worked as a general contractor for a number of years, and has never been asked to show his ICE.

After all that, I guess I never really answered the question. If I wasn't required to have the ICE by some contractors that I work for, I probably wouldn't do it. I don't have employees, so I wouldn't have to have it otherwise.
 

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In Germany the license is required for everything. You must be professional and yo must belong to the special organization. You can for example paint in white without license but not in color. Without proper education you can't be a plumber or painter, you cant repai cars, TV, install....
 
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