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Georgia’s contractor license requirements are fairly elaborate and to help you better understand the different rules, we have put this article together, no matter if you’re a homeowner or contractor trying to get licensed.
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Georgia Contractor’s License Board
Starting July 1, 2008, the State of Georgia has ruled that contractors, specifically both residential and general contractors, must obtain licenses that are issued by the state. This applies to contractors that have contracts with a minimum value of $2,500. These particular types of licenses can only be issued in the state by the Georgia Board of Residential and General Contractors, which was established in 2004 in order to regulate construction contractors and is under the jurisdiction of the Georgia Secretary of State.
Electrical contractors, air conditioning contractors, low voltage contractors, and utility contractors, are also required to be licensed by the Georgia Construction Industry Licensing Board. This licensing board is also under the Georgia Secretary of State.
This is why inquiries about the licenses and the application processes must be directed to the Secretary of State’s office located at 214 State Capitol, Atlanta, Georgia 30334, via phone at (844) 753-7825, or through email at http://sos.ga.gov/cgi-bin/email.asp. The Board is also receptive to complaints and those who need to lodge one may also do so through email.
How to Obtain a Contractor’s License and the Advantages of Getting One
Some of the basic requirements of the state of Georgia prior to applying for a residential or a general contractor’s license are the same. In particular, these are:
- The applicant must be 21 years old or above when or she files the application,
- Must be of good moral character, and
- Is proven to be financially capable of working on the project.
If you were on active military duty and had been honorably discharged within certain numbers of months before filing your application as a licensed contractor, the state has a different process for you to acquire one. You must first fulfill the Board’s financial requirements and submit the following forms and documents:
- DD 214
- DD 2586
- NGB Form 22
- If applicable, Form 1059
- Recommendation letter from your Commander of designated representative
- Letters issued by your training managers
You must have been in active service for at least 90 days before you can apply for your contractor’s license. In certain conditions, this can also apply to military spouses, depending on the license being applied for.
Once approved, you will need to take the exam that was especially designed for men and women returning from their service. If you pass, the Board will expedite your application so that you can get to work as soon as possible.
Applying for the Residential Contractor’s License
Residential contractors in the state of Georgia fall under two categories: the residential basic contractor and the residential-light commercial contractor. These two, while under the same general category, have different requirements and coverage in terms of the scope of work.
If you are applying for the residential basic contractor, specifically as an individual licensee, make sure that you meet the requirements listed below:
- A minimum of two years’ experience as a residential contractor or under the supervision of one. The work experience must be validated through an employment affidavit.
- Has had a significant role and responsibility in the successful completion of two or more projects that can be categorized as residential-basic. These projects must have been completed within two years before the application for the contractor license has been filed
- A net worth of $25,000 at minimum, with either a report from a CPA or a CPA reference letter proving the stated net worth.
- Proof that the applicant complies with the state’s laws in terms of the workers’ compensation insurance.
- $25,000 Georgia Contractor Bond
- General liability insurance that has a $300,000 minimum amount per occurrence.
- Signed consent form for the applicant to submit to a background check. This form is included in the application packet.
For applicants that are a qualifying agent of a company or business, their requirements aside from completing the application form are:
- Evidence that the business or company that the representative is part of has the authorization to conduct business transactions in the state of Georgia and has the certification to do so. This can be a Letter of Authority, the History Page of the company, etc.
- Proof that the applicant has been engaging in the business for at least two years, either as a residential contractor or under the employment of one, mostly under the residential basic category. He or she must also include his or her work history, with the company applying for the license where he or she is the qualifying agent for listed first. He or she must indicate when he or she started working for the company and note down “present” to note down that he or she is currently part of that company.
- List of accomplished projects under the residential basic category that was completed within two years from the filing of the application for this license. The employment/project affidavit may only be signed by you as both the applicant and contractor if the projects were completed when he or she was self-employed.
- A minimum of $300,000 general liability insurance, which should be per occurrence. You should submit your current certificate of insurance that has been signed. Make sure that the company you are representing is listed on the certificate as the one insured and that the certificate holder is the ‘State Licensing Board for Residential and General Contractors, 237 Coliseum Drive, Macon, GA 31217’.
- If applicable, proof of workers’ compensation insurance.
- List of individuals, business organizations, and other entities that the applicant will be affiliated with as a licensed contractor. This includes employees, owners, partners, directors, or other qualifying agents.
- Identity verification of the applicant. To do so, you must submit a copy of a Secure and Verifiable Document, or SVD. This can be your passport, driver’s license, or any other similar document. For immigrants, you can submit a copy of your current immigration documents that indicates either your I-94 number and SEVIS number or Alien number.
Those applying for the residential-light commercial contractor’s license have more requirements when compared to applicants of the residential basic contractor’s license. This is because residential-light commercial contractors have a broader range of the kinds of projects that they can work on. Individual applicants for this license are required to have the following:
- Either a baccalaureate degree that is related to the field, sufficient work experience under or as a general contractor, residential contractor, or something similar that the Board will consider adequate, or the combination of both. For the work experience, it must be accompanied by an employment affidavit. Educational experience must be proven via the submission of diploma, transcript, or the like and the documents must be placed in a sealed envelope.
- Either a CPA reference letter or a report from a CPA detailing the applicant’s $150,000 minimum net worth.
- Georgia Contractor Bond worth $25,000.
- Validation that Georgia’s laws regarding the workers’ compensation insurance is being followed by the applicant.
- Consent of the applicant to undergo a background check. This is accomplished by signing the authorization form found in the application packet.
- A minimum of $300,000 per occurrence general liability insurance.
Qualifying agents applying in behalf of a company or business must submit the following:
- If qualifying under the state’s Board Rule 553-3-.04(3)(c)(1) or (2), you must submit documents pertaining to your educational attainment, such as diploma, transcript of records, or certificate from an accredited academic institution, and these must be placed in a sealed envelope
- Depending on your eligibility as stated in Board Rule 553-3-.04(3)(c)(1), (2), or (3), you must provide a detailed work experience of 1 to 4 years. It should state the type of work you did and not the projects you completed. It should follow the prescribed format, wherein the first column states the dates of employment with your employer and not the dates you started and finished a project. You must also indicate your position title and starting date with your current employer, with your current work experience ending in “present”.
- Employment/project affidavit, where you can sign as both the contractor and applicant only if the projects indicated were completed when you were on a self-employed status.
- You should also submit an affidavit indicating the projects that were completed and reference from a designer, licensed architect, structural engineer, or any other reference persons. The projects that can be included in the list must be under the residential-light commercial category and were completed within 4 years from the date you applied for the license.
- The general liability insurance that is required must have a minimum coverage of $500,000 and must be per occurrence. Submit your current certificate of insurance that has been signed and indicates that the company you are representing is listed as the insured. This certificate must also indicate the following as the certificate holder: State Licensing Board for Residential and General Contractors, 237 Coliseum Drive, Macon, GA 31217.
- Proof that the company has workers’ compensation insurance.
- List of employees, directors, owners, partners, and other entities that you will be affiliated with as a licensed contractor.
- A copy of a Secure and Verifiable Document, also known as SVD. Locals can present documents such as driver’s licenses or passports, and immigrants can provide a copy of their current immigration documents that may indicate either your Alien number or I-94 number and SEVIS number.
Applicants for both the residential basic and residential-light commercial contractors’ licenses must fill out an application form upon fulfillment of the requirements. It can be done online at https://secure.sos.state.ga.us/mylicense/Login.aspx?process=app or by printing out copies of the application form that is applicable to them and these forms may be downloaded here: http://sos.ga.gov/cgi-bin/plbforms.asp?board=49.
For this application, you must pay a non-refundable fee of $200, with checks payable to the ‘State Licensing Board for Residential and General Contractors’.
Once the application has been accepted by the Board, applicants must then fill out the registration forms for the examination to be able to register with PSI, which handles the examinations, and schedule their exams. The residential contractor’s license applicants must take two exams – the Business and Law exam and licensure exam related to their specialization – and have a grade of 70% or more to pass. Detailed information about the examination can be checked here: https://candidate.psiexams.com/bulletin/display_bulletin.jsp?ro=yes&actionname=83&bulletinid=221&bulletinurl=.pdf.
The exams are an open-book type but only the following references are allowed:
For the Business and Law exam with 50 questions and 120 minutes time limit:
- Georgia-NASCLA Contractors Guide to Business, Law and Project Management, published by Georgia State Licensing Board for Residential and General Contractors, 2nd Edition
For the Residential – Basic Contractor exam that has an allowed time of 200 minutes and with 80 questions:
- Code of Federal Regulations – 29 CFR Part 1926 Selections by PSI or Code of Federal Regulations – 29 CFR Part 1926 (OSHA) with latest available amendments, published by the U.S. Government Printing Office
- International Residential Code, 2006, created by the International Code Council
- Carpentry and Building Construction, 2010 or 2016 (Student Edition), written by John L. Feirer and Mark D. Feirer and published by McGraw-Hill
- Modern Masonry – Brick, Block, Stone, written by Clois E. Kicklighter, 8th edition (2015) and published by The Goodheart-Willcox Company
- The Contractor’s Guide to Quality Concrete Construction, 2005, 3rd Edition, published by the American Concrete Institute
- International Energy Conservation Code, 2009 Edition, with Georgia Supplements and Amendment 2011, made by the International Code Council
- Pipe and Excavation Contracting, written by Dave Roberts in 2011 and published by the Craftsman Book Company
- Georgia State Amendments to the State Minimum Standard Codes, made by the Georgia Department of Community Affairs
For the Residential – Light Commercial exam, which has an allotted time of 230 minutes and consists of 90 questions:
- International Residential Code, 2006, by the International Code Council
- International Building Code, 2006, by the International Code Council
- Code of Federal Regulations – 29 CFR Part 1926 Selections by PSI, with latest available amendments or Code of Federal Regulations – 29 CFR Part 1926 (OSHA), with latest available amendments, published by the U.S. Government Printing Office
- BCSI: Guide to Good Practice for Handling, Installing, Restraining, and Bracing of Metal Plate Connected Wood Trusses, 2013 (Updated March 2015) by the Structural Building Components Association and Truss Plate Institute
- Carpentry and Building Construction, 2010 or 2016 (Student Edition), written by John L. Feirer and Mark D. Feirer, published by McGraw-Hill
- The Contractor’s Guide to Quality Concrete Construction, 2005, 3rd Edition, by the American Concrete Institute
- Georgia Accessibility Code, latest edition. This can be acquired for free in PDF format at ada.georgia.gov/georgia-accessibility-code or by requesting your copy through email at [email protected] or by calling the office of the State ADA Coordinator at 404-657-7313
- Pipe and Excavation Contracting, Dave Roberts, 2011, by the Craftsman Book Company
- Modern Masonry – Brick, Block, Stone, 8th edition (2015) written by Clois E. Kicklighter, published by The Goodheart-Willcox Company
- Technical Digest No. 9 – Handling and Erection of Steel Joists and Joist Girders, 3rd Edition, 2008, by the Steel Joint Institute
- Gypsum Construction Handbook, 7th Edition, 2014, by the United States Gypsum Company (USG)
- International Energy Conservation Code, 2009 Edition, with Georgia Supplements and Amendment 2011, by the International Code Council
- SDI Manual of Construction with Steel Deck, 2006, by the Steel Deck Institute
It is important that you provide a valid and working email addresses, as this will be primarily be used by the Board’s staff to contact you.
Applying for the General Contractor’s License
General contractors that are licensed in the state of Georgia are permitted to work on a wider variety of projects, as compared to licensed residential contractors. However, general contractors are classified under two categories: the general contractor and the general contractor-limited tier.
The requirements for the general contractor license and general contractor-limited tier license are the same. If you are applying either as an individual or as a qualifying agent for a business or company, here is a list of requirements that you must fulfill, together with your completed application form:
- Either one of the following: a graduate of a 4-year degree that the Division will find acceptable from an accredited institution and a minimum of 1 year experience as a contractor or being supervised by one, at least 4 years’ worth of experience in any field related to the construction industry (at least 2 years must be spent working for or as a general contractor and at least 1 year’s work experience should be in fields related to administration, accounting, marketing, project management, engineering, or any other roles the Division will find suitable, or the combination of working experience for or as a contractor and the completion of accredited college-level courses, which amounts to a total of 4 years (aggregate) that the Division must accept
- Your academic records, such as diploma, official transcript, or certificate from an accredited educational institution that must be placed in a sealed envelope if you are applying based on the educational requirements for this license
- 1 or more letter of recommendation from a licensed engineer or architect or anyone that the Board will find acceptable
- List of affiliations that you will have as a licensed general contractor. This includes people, businesses, entities, and other organizations
- Signed consent form that informs the board that you agree to submit yourself to a background check
- Either a CPA Report or CPA reference letter that confirms that you have a net worth of at least $150,000. This must be completely filled out and notarized
- Certificate of general liability insurance that has a minimum amount per occurrence of $500,000
- Evidence of workers’ compensation insurance
Like the residential contractor’s license application, you must pay a non-refundable fee of $200 for your general contractor license application, with the checks made payable to the ‘State Licensing Board for Residential and General Contractors’.
Applying for this license is done either by downloading the respective forms at http://sos.ga.gov/cgi-bin/plbforms.asp?board=49 or via online application at https://secure.sos.state.ga.us/mylicense/Login.aspx?process=app.
Upon approval, you must schedule your exam by filling out the registration form and submitting it to the PSI, which handles the examinations. Applicants for the general contractors’ licenses are also required to take the NASCLA exam focusing on their specialization and the Business and Law exam of the state, and these exams are also open book.
Only one reference is allowed for the Business and Law exam, and it is the 2nd edition of the Georgia-NASCLA Contractors Guide to Business, Law and Project Management, which is published by the Licensing Board.
For general contractor license applicants, which includes both general contractors and limited tier general contractors regardless whether the applicant is applying as an individual or a qualifying agent, the NASCLA exam has a time limit of 330 minutes and consists of 115 questions, with applicants required to have a score of 81 and above to pass. This exam is also an open book type and the only references allowed are:
- Construction Jobsite Management, 4th Edition, 2017, written by William R. Mincks and Hal Johnston, published by Delmar/Thomson Learning
- Contractors’ Guide to Business, Law and Project Management, Basic 12th Edition (must be either Basic 10th or 11th edition for commercial general contractor building qualifying agents and limited tier qualifying agents), crafted by the National Association of State Contractors Licensing Agencies (NASCLA)
- BCSI: Guide to Good Practice for Handling, Installing, Restraining, and Bracing of Metal Plate Connected Wood Trusses, 2013 (Updated March 2015), made by the Structural Building Components Association and Truss Plate Institute
- Construction Project Management, 2014, 4th Edition, written by Frederick Gould and Nancy Joyce, under Pearson Education, Inc. publishing as Prentice Hall,
- Training and Certification of Field Personnel for Unbonded Post-Tensioning – Level 1 Field Fundamentals, 2003, 3rd Edition, by the Post-Tensioning Institute,
- Erectors’ Manual – Standards and Guidelines for the Erection of Pre Cast Concrete Products, 1999, 2nd Edition, made by the Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute (PCI)
- Pipe and Excavation Contracting, 2011, by Dave Roberts, published by the Craftsman Book Company
- SDI (Steel Deck Institute) Manual of Construction with Steel Deck, 2006, 2nd Edition, by the Steel Deck Institute
- Gypsum Construction Handbook, 7th edition, 2014, by the United States Gypsum Company (USG), RS Means Publishing
- Technical Digest No. 9 – Handling and Erection of Steel Joists and Joist Girders, 3rd Edition, 2008, made by the Steel Joint Institute
- Placing Reinforcing Bars, Recommended Practices, 2011, 9th edition, crafted by the Concrete Reinforcing Steel Institute (must be the 2014, 9th edition for limited tier commercial building general contractor qualifying agents)
- Principles and Practices of Commercial Construction, 2014, 9th Edition, written by Cameron K. Andres and Ronald C. Smith
- Modern Masonry – Brick, Block, Stone, by Clois E. Kicklighter, 8th edition (2015) and published by The Goodheart-Willcox Company
- Carpentry and Building Construction, 2010 or 2016 (Student Edition), written by John L. Feirer and Mark D. Feirer and published by McGraw-Hill
- Code of Federal Regulations – 29 CFR Part 1926 Selections by PSI or Code of Federal Regulations – 29 CFR Part 1926 (OSHA), with latest available amendments, by the U.S. Government Printing Office
- Roofing Construction and Estimating, written by Daniel Atcheson (1995) and published by the Craftsman Book Company
- ANSI Accessible and Usable Buildings and Facilities, 2009, by the American National Standards Institute
- Green Building Fundamentals, written by Michael Montoya, 2011, 2nd edition, by Pearson Education Publishing
- The Contractor’s Guide to Quality Concrete Construction, 2005, 3rd Edition, by the American Concrete Institute
- ACI 318-11 or ACI 318-14 (2011 or 2014): Building Code Requirements for Structural Concrete and Commentary, by the American Concrete Institute
- International Building Code, 2012 or 2015 Edition by the International Code Council
Similar to applicants of residential contractors’ licenses, information about the exam and the forms that must be filled out by general contractor applicants can be found at this link: https://candidate.psiexams.com/bulletin/display_bulletin.jsp?ro=yes&actionname=83&bulletinid=221&bulletinurl=.pdf.
Those who have been approved by the PSI to take the exams must pay $106 for the NASCLA exam and $60 for the Business and Law exam. Residential contractor applicants must also pay $72 for their specialization exam. Payment can be done through credit card, cashier’s check, company check, or money order only.
Applying for the Electrical Contractor’s License
The state of Georgia also mandates that electrical contractors working in any part of the state must be licensed first. Electrical contractors are classified under two categories, which are Class 1 for restricted electrical contractors and Class 2 for unrestricted electrical contractors. Requirements for this license are:
- A minimum of 4 years of work experience under a licensed contractor, with the work focusing on contracting work. The licensee name and his or her license number must also be indicated to be considered by the Board as an acceptable primary work experience. If the license of the contractor is from out of state, note down if his or her license is equivalent to a Georgia license that is either restricted or non-restricted.
- Primary Experience Form filled out by the employer and returned to the applicant in a sealed envelope with his or her signature written across the flap to prevent tampering. The forms must mention the qualifying licensee name, license number, dates of employment with a ‘month/year’ format, every category’s range of size (such as ½ to 10 HP, 100 to 300 amps, etc.), and the average work hours performed in a week.
- 3 original reference forms that have been notarized and are written by people who know about your work, with at least one of them being a licensed electrical contractor. This should be placed in an envelope and sealed, with the signature of the reference person also on the flap to prevent tampering
- Submission to a background check by going to the police or other local law enforcement agency, or through a private background check agency itself. You must also submit a copy of either a certificate, license, or registration that proves your lawful identity in the country. Immigrants must submit copies of their qualified alien documentation.
- Non-refundable application fee of $30 that must be paid in either money order or check only. It should also be made payable to the ‘Georgia Construction Industry Licensing Board’.
The application form packet, which includes a sample application form that you can use as a guide when filling out your application form, can be found here: http://sos.ga.gov/PLB/acrobat/Forms/44%20Electrical%20EXAM%20Application.pdf.
Unlike the residential and general contractors’ examinations, the examination for the electrical contractor’s license is only held at limited times in a year. The examination dates, as well as other forms and information about the application process, are frequently updated at this website: http://sos.ga.gov/PLB/acrobat/Forms/44%20Electrical%20EXAM%20Application.pdf. The Board must first send confirmation that you are qualified before you can be allowed to take the exam.
Applying for the Low Voltage Contractor’s License
Low voltage contractors are also required to be licensed by the state. Their requirements are similar to those of the electrical contractor’s license applicants. However, applicants for the low voltage contractor’s license do not have to meet stringent requirements when it comes to work experience. They only need to list down their work history and include their present and previous employers’ name as stated in their licenses and their license numbers, making sure that they have at least a year of experience under a licensed contractor that the Board will find acceptable. They must also pay the non-refundable application fee of $30.
Exams are handled by the AMP and are scheduled around four times in a year. Unlike the exams for electrical contractors, the low voltage contractors’ examinations are not an open book type. However, they also consist of the Business and Law exam and the specialization exam. The minimum score required to pass the exam varies, since the exam questions are changed every time it is administered.
The application forms and examination schedules for the low voltage contractor’s license can be found at this link: http://sos.ga.gov/cgi-bin/plbforms.asp?board=46.
Applying for the Air Conditioning Contractor’s License
Contractors that deal with air conditioning systems must also be licensed in the state of Georgia. They can be licensed either as an individual or as an air conditioning business’ or company’s qualifying agent. This license requires the following:
- List of your employment information, starting with your current employer. The list must also include the names of the licensees and their license numbers, as well as your employment dates and short description of your duties during those periods
- Three reference forms from license holders, such as architects, inspectors, engineers, air conditioning contractors, and the like, who know your experience related to air conditioning tasks. These forms must also be signed and notarized.
- Either proof that you have completed ACT107 with a school transcript that comes from a technical or vocational school in the state or a copy of your certificate of a heat loss and gain and duct design course that has been Board-approved and comes from a provider that also has been approved by the Board. If your certificate or diploma is from an out of state school, additional documents must be submitted to show the Board that the course requirements meets their rule involving heat loss and gain and duct design. For Class 2 applicants, they must also submit evidence that they have completed a course for Manuals N&Q or Carrier Design 1, 2, 3 that has been board-approved.
- Copy of your EPA card that shows a certification of Type II or higher.
- You must submit yourself to a background check by going to either a private background check agency or the local law enforcement agency, such as the police.
- Copy of your Secure and Verifiable Document, such as passport, registration, driver’s license, etc. or the current immigration documents that states the alien number or I-94 and SEVIS numbers for immigrants.
- Payment of $30 application fee that is non-refundable and must be payable to the ‘Georgia Construction Industry Licensing Board’ in either money order or check.
The examination for this license is only held at selected dates per year. Information about the examination dates, as well as the forms related to your application, are found here: http://sos.ga.gov/PLB/acrobat/Forms/45%20Conditioned%20Air%20EXAM%20Application.pdf. Note that you can only take the examination once you receive the approval letter from the Board.
Applying for the Utility Contractor’s License
If you are applying for a utility contractor’s license, the following are the only requirements to obtain one:
- Filled out application form with the company information
- List of all the company’s officers, owners, and partners, including their complete information
- Detailed history of the company or business
- List of the company’s utility managers who will supervise over all utility works in every branch or office of the company. Make sure that each utility manager is only associated with a single utility contractor. To check the status of the utility manager, you can go here: http://verify.sos.ga.gov/verification
- Signed Safety Policy that has been completely notarized. All owners, partners, and officers must sign the policy
- Payment of $50 for the application, which is non-refundable
Utility contractors are also required to pass the exams administered by either the PSI or AMP.
Why You Should Go and Get Yourself Licensed
While acquiring a contractor’s license in the state of Georgia may seem time-consuming and a bit costly, having one has its major advantages. For one, it proves that you possess the required skills and knowledge regarding the field in order to complete the work successfully. Tax deductions are also available for licensed contractors in the state – something that unlicensed contractors will not be able to enjoy. Aside from that, you have the right to ask for higher rates, since there is proof that you know how to get the job done, because the state does not issue contractors’ licenses to just anybody; one must be able to prove his or her abilities first.
The Importance of Hiring a Licensed Contractor
The state of Georgia is quite strict when it comes to licensing contractors, so those who were able to get theirs are proven to get the job done. This is why it is important that clients only get contractors with licenses for their projects, whether it be for their residences or for large-scale ones such as commercial buildings and structures.
A major advantage of hiring a licensed contractor is that if something goes wrong, you can easily ask help from the state and even claim damages. Licensed contractors are required to have insurance coverage and bonds, as well as provide insurance for their workers, while unlicensed ones most likely do not have those.
Unlicensed contractors also do not have proof that they are knowledgeable in the field, so there is no guarantee how long their work lasts long after they finish a project. With licensed contractors, you are assured that they know how to do their job and construct buildings and structures that will last for a long time.
Contractor License Search and Lookup
If you wish to check on the licenses of contractors, whether they may be residential, general, electrical, low voltage, air conditioning, or utility contractors, the state of Georgia has an up-to-date database where you can do so. The link for this database is http://verify.sos.ga.gov/verification/.
Contractor License Classifications
The state of Georgia licenses several types of contractors, namely residential, general, electrical, low voltage, and air conditioning contractors. However, these contractors will be further classified into sub-categories, depending on the conditions that they meet for their license.
Those who hold residential contractors’ licenses are mostly limited to working on family homes and light multipurpose commercial buildings. Residential contractors do not have any limitations when it comes to the individual project size.
There are two classifications for residential contractors, and these are:
- Residential-basic contractors – are limited to building detached houses for up to two families, as well as townhouses that must not be more than 3 stories high. This also includes the construction of other accessory buildings, as well as their other structures
- Residential-light commercial contractors – have the same scope as that of residential-basic contractors, but they are also allowed to construct dwellings that fit multiple families, as well as multipurpose commercial buildings. However, they are limited to constructing buildings that should not be more than 4 stories high and less than 25,000 square feet in aggregate interior floor space, and must also be constructed using specific materials.
General contractors, on the other hand, have no limitations on what kinds of buildings or structures they can construct. They are allowed to construct both private and commercial buildings, including public, institutional, and industrial buildings, of a larger scale than residential contractors. Their only limitation lies in terms the value of a given project or contract. However, they are not allowed to do work that involves electrical, HVAC, air conditioning, plumbing, utility, or low voltage contracting.
The general contractor’s license also has two categories:
- General contractors – can bid and work on any type of construction project regardless of its value, as long as the contract is worth above $2,500.
- General contractors-limited tier – can also work on different types of projects but their contracts must not exceed $500,000.
Electrical contractors are licensed in most states and Georgia is no exception to that. Their scope of work includes the installation, alteration, maintenance, as well as repair of any kind of electrical equipment, electrical wiring device, control system, or apparatus that is connected to a structure or building. However, low voltage work is not under the scope of these contractors.
These electrical contractors also fall under two classifications:
- Class 1 restricted – electrical contractors with this license are only allowed to work on single-phase electrical installations. These installations must not be more than 400 amperes from either the service lateral or service drop. They can also work on single family dwellings that have a maximum height of 3 stories or on multiple family structures that are two stories high or less.
- Class 2 unrestricted – licensees can work on any electrical installation without limitations, including working on both residential and commercial buildings.
Low Voltage Contractor
Low voltage contractors licensed in the state of Georgia are allowed to install, repair, alter, or maintain different low voltage systems, including telecommunication systems, alarm systems, and other general systems.
There are four categories for low voltage contractors, and these are:
- Low voltage unrestricted – contractors can deal with any kind of low voltage systems
- Low voltage telecommunications – contractors are limited to working on telecommunication systems
- Low voltage alarm – contractors are only allowed to work on alarm systems
- Low voltage general – contractors are restricted to working on general systems only, specifically any system except for alarm systems and telecommunication systems
Air Conditioning Contractor
In the state of Georgia, conditioned air contractors holding valid licenses are permitted to work on air conditioning systems and equipment, including the installing, repairing, and maintenance of such systems. Their scope of work also includes the installing and servicing of electrical connections between the conditioned air equipment and electrical disconnects.
Conditioned Air Contractors are classified into two categories:
- Class I – these contractors are restricted to working on conditioned air systems that does not exceed 60,000 BTU in terms of cooling and 175,000 BTU in terms of heating
- Class II – contractors with this license do not have any restrictions when it comes to working on conditioned air systems
Licensed utility contractors in the state of Georgia are allowed to work on utility systems, including repairs, installations, alterations, and other maintenance works. These utility systems include utility systems found five feet or more below ground level, such as water supply systems, gas distribution systems, communication systems, sewage and drainage systems, and electrical distribution systems, and can be accessed by cut and cover, open cut, trenching, or any other similar methods. These contractors can also work on filtration plants, reservoirs, waste-water and water treatment facilities, and pump stations, among others.
The different contractors’ licenses issued by Georgia are valid at the state level, which means that they are generally accepted in the different cities and counties, including the large and heavily populated ones like Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Savannah, Athens, Sandy Springs, Roswell, Macon, Johns Creek, Albany, and Warner Robins. While your license may be valid in the state, you should always check with the city or county you intend to work on if they have other requirements before you can be issued a local business permit.
Atlanta follows the state’s regulations when it comes to licensing contractors. They do not issue licenses at the city level.
Augusta also requires that non-specialty trade contractors be licensed in the city. Contractors under this category are those that do lawn maintenance, cabinetry, laminate, carpet, and tile flooring, fencing, concrete work, painting, and drywall and construction framing contractors who work under the supervision of contractors with licenses issued by the state. However, they are not allowed to do any kind of construction work that requires them to obtain first construction permits.
To acquire this license, you must accomplish the following:
- Proof that the city’s requirements regarding the location of the construction work are met
- Completion of the Business Tax Return. You can print your copy to be filled out here: https://www.augustaga.gov/DocumentCenter/View/7328/2016-LICENSE-PKG?bidId=. You must also include all of the last 4 SSN numbers and affidavits of all of the listed owners or agents, the number of W-2 employees, total number of vehicles that will be used onsite, and SAVE and E-Verify affidavits.
Aside from presenting a copy of your state-issued contractor’s license, Augusta also requires the following before you can work on projects in the city:
- Business Tax Return, as well as the total number of W-2 employees, last 4 SSN numbers of all owners or agents indicated in the form, SAVE and E-Verify affidavits, and list of all the onsite vehicles
- Certificate of Liability page of your General Liability Insurance that lists ‘Augusta-Richmond County’ as the certificate holder and with a minimum coverage of $50,000 or $100,000, depending on the project
- A minimum of $15,000 Surety Bond, with the following information listed as the obligee: ‘Augusta – Richmond County’ with the address of ‘1815 Marvin Griffin Road, Augusta GA 30906’
The city of Savannah requires that contractors must be issued licenses by the state of Georgia before they can bid on and do construction projects. However, this is only applicable for construction work that the city considers as ‘major repairs.’
The City of Athens also mandates that contractors to obtain their licenses that are issued by the state of Georgia before they can do construction work in the city, since they do not issue licenses at the city level.
Contractor License Reciprocity
The contractor license reciprocity agreements between the different states allows the licensees from one state, such as the state of Georgia, to obtain contractors’ licenses from another state while skipping the requirement of passing the exams required by that state, and vice versa. This means that the licensees must only present proof that they had been issued state-level licenses and other documentary requirements to be issued the contractors’ licenses from another state.
Fortunately, Georgia has several license reciprocity agreements with other states, depending on the type of contractor license, and these are:
- General contractors and limited tier general contractors, whether licensed as an individual or as a qualifying agent, have license reciprocities with the states of Louisiana, Tennessee, and Mississippi. They may be issued commercial licenses that are classified under ‘Building Construction’ on those three states.
- Residential-basic contractors have license reciprocities with Mississippi, under the ‘residential building contractor’ category, and with South Carolina for the ‘residential builders’ contractor license.
- Residential-light commercial contractors only have a license reciprocity agreement with Mississippi, also under the category of ‘residential building contractor.’
- Electrical contractors from the states of Alabama, Louisiana, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee who pass the unrestricted electrical contractor license examinations administered by the Boards of those states can be issued electrical contractors’ licenses by the state of Georgia
- Conditioned air contractors may be issued the equivalent contractor licenses in the states of South Carolina, Louisiana, and Texas.
- Low voltage contractors may only be licensed in North Carolina under the license reciprocity agreement.
- There is no license reciprocity agreement available for utility contractors’ license holders issued by the state of Georgia.
While license reciprocities make it easier for you to acquire the same kind of license in other states, those states may also have other requirements for contractors despite the presence of the agreement. It is important that you always make sure to check the state requirements before filing your contractor license application under the license reciprocity rule of any state.