Hawaii Contractor Licenses

Despite its small population, Hawaii has fairly extensive license requirements for contractors, including general contractors and specialty ones. Read on in order to get a better understanding of the requirements.

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While it’s true that the construction industry in Hawaii lost 700 jobs from April 2017 to April 2018, the General Contractors Association of Hawaii, through its president – Jay Manzano, remained positive in their outlook for the industry this year and the following years. You just have to take a look around to see that the infrastructures in the state that require improvements.

In addition, there’s a steady demand for low-cost housing. Commercial establishments like hotels require major facelifts. Of course, there’s also the Honolulu Rail Project.

Once the tide has shifted, there will be a rise in demand for skilled workers, if there isn’t one already. The industry will have difficulties finding the right workers to fill the soon-to-be demands.

You’d want to be among the first ones to take advantage of this turnaround, and this article can help. We’ll talk about Hawaii contractor licenses. Read on to know why you should get one. More importantly, read on to know where and how to get one. Of course, you’ll know the different classifications so you’ll know which classification you fall under.

Generally speaking, you need to get licensed if you’re in the business of providing contracting work in building, altering and improving residential, commercial, and public infrastructures. If the project amount is less than $1,000 and it doesn’t need a building permit, then you don’t need a license.

For more details, you can check out this FAQs document.

This article is not just for contractors. It can also benefit project owners. With the decrease in the number of licensed and skilled workers, you might be tempted to hire an unlicensed one when your project needs a licensed one. This article will convince you that you should hire a licensed Alabama contractor when the situation calls for it. More importantly, you’ll find a nifty tool that will help you verify a contractor’s license.

Importance of Hiring a Contractor with a License

How much is your project worth? It can cost anywhere from thousands to tens of thousands of dollars. Needless to say, your project costs a lot of money. Wouldn’t you want to award it to a contractor that has the right credentials for the job? In most cases, a license serves as a glowing credential.

Here are the reasons why you should hire a Hawaii contractor with a license:

  • You’ll hire someone who actually knows what he’s doing.

Not everyone can get licensing. Only qualified and experienced contractors will get one. These are the ones that actually know what they’re doing thanks to their experience in their chosen trade.

This means that there’ll be no trial and error. The job will get done and it will be done right.

  • Work will be efficient.

Most of these licensed contractors have a good system in place. Again, thanks to their experience. They run their team of workers like a well-oiled machine to help minimize problems. If a problem arises, then they already know what to do. You wouldn’t even know there was a problem unless you ask.

A contractor with a good system in place is an efficient one. There’ll be little to no mistakes. This will help avoid delays and additional expenses.

  • Certain protective measures will be in place for you.

As part of their licensing requirements, they also need to get insurance and bond. This is for their protection and more importantly, yours as well. You wouldn’t want to be on the wrong side of a liability when a worker gets injured. This is why insurance is important. You’d also want to make sure that the job will get done no matter what and a bond can help.

Basically, it can give you peace of mind.

  • You won’t experience headaches from the government.

The government is your friend, until it’s not. They have clear guidelines to follow when it comes to licensing. If you hire an unlicensed contractor when you should have hired a licensed one, the government can issue fines, penalties and even jail time.

How to Get a Contractor’s License in Hawaii and Advantages of Getting One

A project owner reading this article would be convinced by now to hire a licensed professional after knowing the benefits listed above. This leads to the clearest advantage of getting one – you will be sought after by these project owners. You basically open yourself up to the opportunity of catering to this specific market.

Here are additional advantages:

  • You will be seen as a credible professional.

No project owner will hire a professional with a questionable credibility. This is especially true in the construction industry where a lot of money will be exchanging hands. This is why it’s very important for you to build, establish and protect your credibility. Having licensing is the important first step.

Project owners will see it as a form of commitment. You’re committed to your craft. They will also see it as something that will encourage you to do a good job. This is because you’ll do anything to satisfy your customers because you wouldn’t want complaints against your license.

They also know that there’s less risk dealing with you. With the paper trail that you’ve established, they’ll see it as their own protection from you defrauding them.

  • You gain access to projects that have a higher earning potential.

It’s simple math, really. You have the potential to earn more money on a big project as compared to a small one. These big projects require a license. If you don’t have it, you won’t even be able to send a bid.

This allows you to grow your business. While some are perfectly content on staying small, nothing should stop you from growing if you want to. These big projects with a higher earning potential will be your road towards growth.

  • You will be on the good side of the government.

It’s safe to say that most people know better than to be on the bad side of the government. You wouldn’t want to be on its naughty list because your “gifts” would be penalties, fines and even jail time. At the very least, it can lead to delays which can be very expensive.

If you’re on the good side, the government will just leave you be to do what you do best.

  • You’ll have an easier time marketing your services.

It’s a challenge to market your services only for potential clients to ask for your licensing information and you don’t have it. Besides, they wouldn’t even contact you anyway because you don’t have licensing information to show.

On the other hand, the ability to market your services as a “Licensed Contractor” will help you attract potential customers. Post everywhere – from flyers to social media – that you’re a licensed contractor and you can already capture their attention. With the advent of digital marketing, marketing your services is easier than ever. Licensing can make it even easier.

  • With all other things equal, you have a distinct advantage of unlicensed ones.

Let’s say that you’re up against a contractor that has the same experience, qualifications and bid as you. The only difference is you have licensing and he has none. Who do you think the project owner will hire? It’s you, of course, and that’s your distinct advantage.

With these benefits in mind, should you head over to the licensing board to apply? Not so fast, because it’s not for everyone. Make sure to consider the following before you apply:

  • Are you required to have a license?

You don’t need a license if the project cost is below $1,000 and it doesn’t require a building permit. Take this chance to work on small handyman jobs first.

  • Are you ready for the big league?

The big league has the bigger projects with costs in the tens of thousands. With higher earning potential comes a higher risk of losses. This happens if you bid too low on a project.

This is why you have to gain bidding experience first. Start bidding on small projects and build from there. Slowly move your way towards bigger projects. By then, you’ll know the right bid.

  • Will you be able to pass the exams?

The exams are part of the application process. Simply put, you can’t pass the process if you can’t pass the exams. To be able to pass the exams, you need knowledge and experience. Build them first before applying. You can do so by starting off as a handyman and building your knowledge and experience from there.

  • Do you know what service/s do you want to provide?

One bad thing about getting licensed is it can be limiting. It can limit you as to what service/s you want to provide. This is why you have to know first what area/s you want to specialize in so you can apply licensing for them. This way, you won’t be stuck with a service that you don’t really want to provide.

If you feel that you’re ready, here’s how to get a Hawaii contractor license:

  • Determine your category and fulfill the requirements.
    • Entity – you’re a joint venture, partnership, corporation, LLP or LLC.
      • Register at the Business Registration Division.
      • Must have established a good reputation for being honest, truthful and fairness.
      • Must have insurance (liability and workers’ compensation).
      • Designate a licensed professional as a Responsible Managing Employee or RME.
    • Sole proprietor – you are the sole owner of the business.
      • Must be 18 years old or older.
      • Must have established a good reputation for being honest, truthful and fairness.
      • Must have at least 4 years of experience as a supervisor in the previous 10 years.
      • Pass the exam.
      • Must have insurance (liability and workers’ compensation).
    • RME – you are a true employee of the company and you’re qualified to represent the applicant.
      • Must be 18 years old or older.
      • Must have established a good reputation for being honest, truthful and fairness.
      • Must have at least 4 years of experience as a supervisor in the previous 10 years.
      • Pass the exam.
      • You should be under the employ of a contracting entity that has a license.
  • Complete the form.
  • Submit the form together with the $50 fee and the other requirements to the Board before the first Tuesday of the month.
  • The Board reviews all applications the following month. They will then notify you if you’re approved, disapproved or deferred.
  • For an entity, its RME would have to register for the exam at a separate testing agency, if it applies. The RME takes the exam the succeeding month. For a sole proprietor or RME, they would have to register for the exam themselves at a separate testing agency. They also have to pay the necessary exam fees so they can take the exam the succeeding month.
  • The Board will notify the successful applicant of the remaining licensure requirements.
  • Submit the said licensure requirements.
  • The Board will issue the license.

You need to either mail in the application, fee and requirements to:

Contractors License Board

DCCA, PVL Licensing Branch

P.O. Box 3469

Honolulu, HI 9680

You can also deliver it yourself at this address:

335 Merchant St., Room 301

Honolulu, HI 96813

For questions, you can contact them at 808-586-3000.

Hawaii Contractors License Board

The state has a Contractors License Board under the Professional & Vocational Licensing Department of the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs. The Board is composed of 13 members – 5 general contractors, 5 specialty contractors and 3 public.

The Board meets regularly. The date, location and agenda of the meeting are posted on this calendar.

For questions, you can contact them at 808-586-3000 or send them an email to pvl@dcca.hawaii.gov.

Hawaii Online Contractor License Search & Lookup

You can use the Professional & Vocational Licensing Search Tool here. It’s usually updated daily on weekdays except holidays. It’s normally up to date. You can use this tool to search for information on a license number and to check its validity. You can also do a search on a business or individual. If you want to check out details of a pending application, you can also do so using the Social Security Number or file number.

Hawaii Contractor License

Here are the different categories as per the laws and rules of the Board:

  • “A” General Engineering Contractor

This applies to you if your business is mainly connected to fixed works that require specialized skills and knowledge in engineering. This usually applies to government projects including flood control, drainage, irrigation, highways, railroads, tunnels and the likes.

  • “B” General Building Contractor

This applies to you if you’re a contractor that specializes in structures that are to be used for persons, animals and other movable properties that require the skills of more than 2 unrelated crafts.

  • “C” Specialty Contractor

As the name implies, this is for contractors that have special skills such as electricians, plumbers, drywalling, roofing, landscaping and the likes.

Click here for more details on these categories.

Anyone who contracts to construct, alter or improve structures must have a contractor’s license. The only exception is if the total contract price is less than $1,000 and if it doesn’t require a building permit.

Electrical Contractor License

You need a license in order to perform electrical work in the state. Here are the requirements for a Hawaii electrician contractor license:

  • You need to submit the Experience Verification form. Complete and submit one form for each licensed electrician that’s vouching for your experience.
  • Provide proof that you’ve completed the following:
    • For a journey worker electrician, you should have 5 years and at least 10,000 hours of experience wiring residential or commercial properties. You should have completed at least 240 hours of electrical academic coursework at an institution that’s approved by a University of Hawaii Community College.
    • For a supervising electrician, you need to be a licensed journey worker electrician with at least 4 years of experience.
    • For a journey worker industrial electrician, you should have 4 years and at least 8,000 hours of experience in industrial electrical work. You should have completed at least 200 hours of electrical academic coursework at an institution that’s approved by a University of Hawaii Community College.
    • For a supervising industrial electrician, you should have at least 3 years of experience working as a licensed journey worker industrial electrician or something similar to it.
    • For a journey worker specialty electrician, you should have 3 years and at least 6,000 hours of trade experience. You should have completed at least 120 hours of electrical academic coursework at an institution that’s approved by a University of Hawaii Community College.
    • For a supervising specialty electrician, you should have at least 2 years of experience working as a licensed journey worker specialty electrician or something similar.
    • For a maintenance electrician, you need a year of experience in electrical maintenance. You should have completed at least 80 hours of electrical academic coursework at an institution that’s approved by a University of Hawaii Community College. Alternatively, 2 years of trade schooling will work as long as you have at least 1,000 hours of hands-on experience in the lab.
    • Pass the Board examination.

Click here for more details and for the application form.

Please note that this license does not permit you to do contracting work as an electrician. You need a contractor’s license for that.

Hawaii Plumber Contractor License

You need a license in order to perform plumbing work in the state. Here are the requirements for a Hawaii plumber contractor license:

  • You need to submit the Experience Verification form. Complete and submit one form for each licensed electrician that’s vouching for your experience.
  • Provide proof that you’ve completed the following:
    • For a journey worker plumber, you need at least 5 years and 10,000 hours of experience in the plumbing industry. You should also comply with the Uniform Plumbing Code.
    • For a master plumber, you should be a registered as a licensed journey worker plumber for at least 2 years.
    • Pass the Board examination.

Click here for more details and the application form.

Please note that this license does not permit you to do contracting work as a plumber. You need a contractor’s license for that.

Hawaii Elevator Contractor License

Here are the different license types and their specific requirements:

  • Apprentice
    • Download and fill out this form.
    • Have a supervising elevator mechanic fill out section 2 of that form.
    • Attach $40 for the application fee and $60 for the license fee.
  • Elevator mechanic
  • You need to be at least 18 years old to apply.
  • You also need to provide your Social Security Number so that your identity can be verified.
  • Once you’re ready, download and fill out this form. Also included there is the Experience Verification form
  • Attach the $40 application fee. Note that this is non-refundable.
  • Once your application has been approved, the Board will get in touch with you the Candidate Information Bulletin that includes details about the exam. You’ll also receive a form that will allow you to register for the exam that’s scheduled quarterly.
  • If you passed the exam, you will receive a Pass Report saying that you passed along with a notice for you to pay the license fee.
  • Temporary permit

NOTE: This type of permit is only issued if there is a shortage on manpower. A temporary permit is only valid for 3 months. After 3 months, you can apply for another temporary permit for another 3 months.

  • Download and fill out this form.
  • Attach $40 for the application fee and $60 for the permit.
  • Have a union representative issue a statement in an official letterhead or send documents verifying that you’ve passed the exam by the Elevator Constructors Union or National Elevator Industry Education Program.
  • Have your employer fill out the Experience Verification form.

Hawaii Contractor License Reciprocity

Hawaii does not have a reciprocity agreement with another state. You need to comply with the state’s requirements for licensing and you need to pass the exams.

General Contractor Licenses

General building contractors, also known as general contractors, will be required to pass specific exams as soon as the value of the project that they work on starts exceeding $2,500. This includes passing the Business and Law exam as well as any specific trades that the contractor desires doing work within.

You will also have to provide a credit report and proof of worker’s compensation insurance, that covers both bodily injury and property damage too.

Renewing the license in order to ensure it stays valid is important, since they expire on September 30th every even-numbered year, and the proper application to have it renewed needs to be done by that date. You will receive the application to renew it roughly 1½ month ahead of that time.