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Permits and Licenses for Residential Building Contractors

by Uneeb Khan

Whether you are looking to hire a residential building contractor or if you are an owner-builder, you should know what it takes to get the permits you need. Learn about the requirements, experience and training required, as well as what you need to know about subcontracting work.

Construction of new housing

Getting a new home is a big deal for many Americans, but the process is not as streamlined as it once was. There are several types of homes in the new construction market, including single family, multi-family, and institutional buildings.

The most obvious choice is single family, with about a third of homes on the market. Another quarter are in the pre-construction phase. Institutional buildings have higher construction costs, but are less affected by the general economic conditions. Some building contractors have an oligopoly, with a few big names doing the heavy lifting. The construction of new housing is also aided by tax and monetary policies pushed by Washington, DC, but the housing industry does not operate as a free enterprise.

The new housing construction industry is highly competitive. While many projects are undertaken at the same time, a slight increase in demand can wreak havoc on the construction industry. A shortage of skilled workers, materials and a few other items are keeping the construction industry on a tight leash.

Subcontracting work of building trades subcontractor

Using a subcontractor for your construction endeavors is a good idea, as it provides a safety net and a sense of control. However, not all subcontractors are created equal. For example, you might not be able to rely on a plumber to install your new heating system. For this reason, you’ll want to do some homework in order to get the most out of your building projects. You’ll also want to make sure that you hire a reputable contractor. A bad contractor can turn your dream house into a nightmare. Luckily, there are several tips and tricks you can use to ensure your contractor delivers a good product and a happy client.

One of the best ways to do this is to get a firm grasp on your contractor’s business plan. This can be done by identifying your company’s key players, documenting each company’s mission statement and business process, and by having an up-to-date contact list.

Requirements for obtaining required building permits

Getting a building permit is the first step in ensuring the safety of your construction project. Permits are necessary for most construction projects and are issued by the building department. You can apply for a building permit by yourself or by an agent, such as an architect or contractor.

The permit is valid for one year, but can be extended by 180 days. If you need more time, you must submit an application for an extension in writing to the Building and Safety Services Division. Applicants may submit electronic permit applications as well.

Before a building permit can be issued, a Township Zoning Permit must be obtained. If you are working outside the footprint of your proposed building, you will also need a grading permit.

Owner-builder exception to licensing for trades permit issuance

Whether you’re building a new home or remodeling an existing one, you may be eligible to use an Owner-builder exception to licensing for trades permit issuance for Residential Building Contractors. As an owner-builder, you can perform the construction of your home yourself, or you may choose to hire a licensed contractor. However, you are responsible for the work covered by your permit, and you may be financially liable for injuries sustained by an unlicensed person. Unless you are working under the supervision of a licensed contractor, you must ensure that all workers on your project have the appropriate licenses.

The scope of an owner-builder’s work is limited to residential construction of a one-family or two-family dwelling, farm outbuilding, or detached accessory building. If the total cost of the project is less than $75,000, you may also be eligible to use the Owner-builder exception for commercial construction.

Experience required

Obtaining a contractor license requires more than taking a test and hoping for the best. Luckily, some states will allow you to pass a licensing exam without any experience. For instance, Oregon has a “residential endorsement” license that is not dependent on experience. This is a good thing since it means more job opportunities for newbies.

Some states, like California, give you a credit for taking an educational course at an accredited university. You can also get credit for an apprenticeship training program. However, if you are looking to get licensed, you will probably want to get a job as a general contractor, subcontractor or roofing contractor first. If you are a contractor who is looking to get licensed, you may want to consider apprenticing or taking on small jobs that do not require a license.

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