How to Obtain a General Contractor's License in North Carolina

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Obtaining a general contractor's license in North Carolina is not a simple process. The application, although straight forward and easy to obtain, is not the only step in the process of becoming licensed in this state. You have to prove your proficiency and knowledge of various skills such as masonry, building construction, electrical and plumbing to be able to pass the exams required to get a license. You also must have a knowledge of building codes, zoning requirements and other stipulations for how certain types of buildings must be constructed. Obtaining licenses such as an electrician's license, plumbing license or other special license might benefit individuals applying for certain specialty types of contractor's licenses.

  • Send a check for $15 (2010) to the NC Licensing Board for General Contractors. The address is below. They will send you a license application.

    NC Licensing Board for General Contractors

    P. O. Box 17187

    Raleigh, NC 27619

  • Go to the NC Licensing Board for General Contractors office to purchase the application for two dollars less at $13. The office is open Monday through Friday from 8 am to 5 pm.

    NC Licensing Board for General Contractors

    3739 National Drive

    Suite 225

    Raleigh, NC 27612

  • Fill out the application and select the contractor's license that you require. The information that is sent to you will also let you know about the 21 various exams and which ones you must take. You need to turn in your application before you take any exams.

  • Select the type of license you wish to obtain. Applicants can apply for a building license for all structural buildings commercial and residential, residential license for houses not including your own, highway license for roads, public utilities license for various work on facilities used to operate utilities for an area, and ppecialty licenses. Specialty licenses are broken down into unique skills such as water and sewer lines, electrical work, pool construction, insulation installation, tunneling, grading, railroad, masonry and a few others. If all you are going to do is concentrate on one of these unique skill areas, then you would want a specialty license for that skill.

  • Provide proof of finances. Licenses are broken down into levels based on the amount of working capital an individual or company has and proves financial responsibility. A limited license is for working capital of at least $17,000 with project costs not to exceed $500,000. An intermediate license is for working capital of at least $75,000 with project costs not to exceed $1,000,000. An unlimited license is for working capital of at least $150,000 with project costs having no limit. If you cannot show financial responsibility you may still get a license if you obtain a surety bond in the amount of $350,000 for limited, $1,000,000 for intermediate and $2,000,000 for unlimited (2010 amounts).

  • Mail in application along with license fee. License fees are based on the license level for which you are applying. Limited costs $75. Intermediate costs $100. Unlimited costs $125 (2010 fees).

  • Wait for your license to be approved. You will be notified by mail. All licenses expire at the end of the year and must be renewed.

  • Schedule and take the required exams. This information arrives with your approval of licenses. Contact the exam administrator PSI Examination Services by calling, registering online at their website, or mailing or faxing in the registration form. Include the identification number that you received from the state with your approval letter. The state uses your ID number to determine which exams you will take. You will receive information back from PSI at to the exact date time and location of your exam once you have contacted them. Exams are based on the type of license you are trying to obtain and focus on knowledge of that type of construction. Contact PSI Examination Services for scheduling the exam. Fee exams are $70 according to the Candidate Information Bulletin issued by the State of North Carolina Licensing Board for General Contractors and PSI. You must pass the exam to receive your license.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you want the contractor's license so that you can build your own house, stop and go no further. You do not need a license to build your own home as long as you plan on staying in it for a year. You only need a license when building homes for others, and only then if the project has a cost of over $30,000.

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  • Photo Credit house construction image by Gale Distler from Fotolia.com
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