Getting a Contractors State License

Summary: You do not need to be licensed to build your own home. You do need to be licensed to build a house for sale or for other people. A contractor licensing class or school can help you get your contractors license.

Petty Officer G.S.

Carl,

I am 21, married and in the military. I will be getting out before too long, and have always wanted to build houses. I have a small amount of building experience and would really like to learn more so that hopefully, I will be able to have my own construction company one day.

Judging by your web site, you really know your stuff so what would be your best advice for me in pursuing a career that will also allow me to support my family? Petty Officer G. S.

Hi G.S.

Thanks!

The best way to learn the Home Building business is by building you own house. I have seen many people (men & women) finish building their own house and go on to make Home Building their career.

Guess what? That is exactly what I did.

But, let give you some advice, advice I learned the hard way.

Just as you don’t have to quit your “day” job to build your own home, you don’t have to quit your “day” job to become a Professional Home Builder. In fact, don’t attempt to start out in that business full time. It’s a very volatile business.

You can avoid the risks of being small company by keeping it part-time at first.

As you know from my books, you don’t need to be a licensed builder to build your own house (Texas does require you to pay a small registration fee), but you will need to get your home builder’s license to build for other people (called “Custom Homes”) and/or build houses for sale (called houses built for “Speculation”, or “spec homes”).

Contact the proper state licensing department directly for information. Just Google: Your state + builder license + requirement. Usually, an exam (test) is required and the state provides guidelines. The tests are not usually too difficult, and the experience required is usually minimal.

Two excellent sources on state by state licensing are:

American Contractors Exam Services.

Contractors License Reference Site

Well G. S., you will learn so much in building your first house that I think you will feel comfortable pursuing a career in home building. The learning curve is a steep one, but well worth it.

As more questions arise, and they will, feel free to send them to me.

Good luck,
Carl

And here is another question on the same topic from Dan:

I'm interested in putting modular homes as multifamily on my property. Is this something you can assist with? Acting as the General Contractor, will my state require me to be licensed? Wonderful website!

Hi Dan,

Thanks for the compliment.

I’m not sure what you mean by “Is this something you can assist with?”, but I can give you advice.

All 50 states allow an individual to build their own home or vacation home acting as their own General Contractor, with NO license. In most states and/or local municipalities you can also build up to a 4 unit (four-plex) acting as the General Contractor with NO license, IF you are going to live in one of the 4 units.

You cross the line in almost all states and/or local municipalities when you try to build FOR someone else’s use, whether it’s for sale or for rent.

Rule of thumb: If it’s for you and it’s on your property, you can be the General Contractor. If it’s on your property (or anyone else’s property) and it’s NOT for you, you have to be a licensed General Contractor or employ one.

The logic is that states and/or local municipalities feel they have a right to control things that affect the general public, and they do that through licensing.

It sounds like you are building for the general public and your state and/or local municipality may require a licensed General Contractor to be on record.

A phone call to the Building Inspection Department of your local municipality, and/or to your state licensing board should answer your question.

Good luck, sounds like an excellent idea. I hope you succeed.

Carl Heldmann